Auto Review: The Juke is jumping

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Thu., Jul. 7, 2011
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

There are a lot of expressions we use to describe the cars in our lives, such as sporty, luxurious, frugal, dependable, or even “a complete heap.” While these descriptions are apt, when it comes to vehicle classification in the marketplace, it’s getting quite difficult to pigeonhole some vehicles because manufacturers are regularly mixing multiple styles and genres into one new vehicle. The Nissan Juke is a perfect example, for the company calls it a Sport Cross, which in my world is short for Sport Crossover Utility Vehicle. Loosely based on the Versa platform, the Juke feels like a tall sports car and is so loaded with interesting features that it really defies any conventional attempts to categorize it. In looks and versatility (and even its name), the Juke is truly a unique vehicle that I think a lot of prospective buyers will find intriguing.

The Juke has a futuristic aura about it, and everywhere you look there’s state-of-the-art engineering. The engine is a 1.6-liter Intercooled Turbocharged Direct-Injection Inline Four with 188 horsepower, which is impressive output from such a comparatively small powerplant. Either front-wheel or all-wheel-drive (AWD) models are available, and there’s a choice between a six-speed manual gearbox or a CVT (Continuously Variable) transmission on front-drive units, while the CVT is standard on AWD models.

We tested an SL AWD and the AWD system is a very sophisticated torque-vectoring design that allows you to pick between 2WD, torque-vectoring AWD and locked AWD. This makes the Juke and an excellent all-weather vehicle and very sure-footed no matter if the road is bone-dry or icy.

A system called I-CON (for I Control) lets you select drive modes, which include Normal, Sport and Economy settings to tailor engine and transmission response to your liking. The vehicle’s tight 99.6-inch wheelbase make it a joy to whip through traffic and on tight trails, and acceleration is spritely once the turbocharger gets spooled up. The suspension is firm and the brakes are good, so all in all, the sport aspect of this crossover is very well represented.

Inside, the Juke offers a cozy environment, with all the latest technology including some very innovative (yet logically designed) climate controls and an attractive, informative instrument display. A navigation system is standard with the SL trim level, as is an excellent audio system with a Rockford Fosgate-powered subwoofer.

Workmanship is solid, with a good mix of materials that wouldn’t be out of place in a much more expensive car. If there’s any real weak point to the Juke, it has to do with its compact size and sporty styling, as interior room is lacking compared to some other compact crossovers out there. The rear seat and cargo area in particular can be tight when the need arises to haul people and goods, but such is the price of being a highly-athletic compact.

The 2011 Nissan Juke SL AWD CVT is EPA-rated 25 MPG city/30 highways and has a base price of $24,550. With options, our sticker came to $27,180. www.nissanusa.com

 

 


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