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CarGurus Expert ReviewThe Good
Offbeat looks, a peppy turbocharged four-banger that puts out some hefty mileage numbers, a few agile moves and available all-wheel drive all add to the 2013 Nissan Juke subcompact crossover’s appeal.The Bad
The 2013 Juke's same offbeat looks, along with less cargo area than many rivals, too many low-rent cabin materials, cramped rear seating and a bumpy ride mean this pint-size Nissan isn’t for everyone.
The CarGurus View
Suave it’s not, but the 2013 Nissan Juke offers its not-in-Kansas-anymore profile to those who need a small crossover for play more than for work. This downsized crossover works best as a commuter car with attitude (though not so much for carpooling) and toting lots of stuff? Forget about it. Take this little ute for what it is—a fun way to get from point A to point B, with a lot of looks from bystanders along the way.
At a Glance
A controversial profile and questionable practicality aside, the 2013 Nissan Juke offers some hefty driving excitement, turbocharged power and a boatload of value for those willing to stand out in the crowd. Seating is alleged for 5 in this subcompact crossover, but rear-seat passengers ought to be pretty small, and its 35.9 cubic feet of cargo area (with the rear seatbacks folded) is considerably less than that found in most rivals. On a more positive note, its 10.5 cubic feet of toting room behind the rear seats isn’t too bad, and this sporty little mini-ute offers some nifty moves that might make you forget, for a few seconds, that you’re just on your way into the office or over to the PTA meeting. Additionally, Nissan’s crimped crossover can be delivered with full-time all-wheel drive (AWD) that lets owners laugh at winter’s usual driving challenges.
Available in three trims—the base S, the midlevel SV and the top-shelf SL—Nissan’s offbeat little people-hauler, introduced for the 2011 model year, also offers an even sportier NISMO sub-trim from the Japanese automaker’s racing division. All trims, meantime, carry the same capable turbocharged inline 4-cylinder powerplant and standard continuously variable transmission (CVT), while a manual transmission is offered as an option with higher trims, but only with the standard front-wheel-drive (FWD) configuration.
A few added tweaks also make their appearance in this latest edition. First, the navigation package that’s standard in the SL and available to the SV now comes with a premium Rockford Fosgate stereo and a rear-view camera. Additionally, all trims are now eligible for the available Midnight Edition Package, boasting unique Sapphire Black mirror caps and roof-mounted rear spoiler, as well as black 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels.
Should a more traditional, not to mention a more utilitarian hatchback be desired, Chevy’s roomy Sonic, Ford’s well-wrought Fiesta and Volkswagen’s Euro-styled Golf all offer a more family-oriented 5-door experience. Other small crossovers to consider, meantime, include Kia’s stylish and practical Soul and the sensible-but-still-cute MINI Cooper Countryman.
Yeah, the Juke appeals to the more irreverent and whimsical among us, but who said the daily commute had to always be boring?
The sole engine offered in the 2013 Juke lineup is a direct-injected, variable-valve-timed (VVT) 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) turbocharged powerplant that cranks out 188 hp at 5,600 rpm and some 177 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. The brains behind this power is a standard continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that boasts an auto-manual Sport-mode feature. Additionally, both the SV and SL can be delivered with an available 6-speed manual transmission in FWD variations only. Gas mileage, meanwhile, is estimated at a pretty heady 27 mpg city/32 highway in CVT-equipped FWD trims, 25/31 in stick-shift-toting FWD editions, and 25/30 in AWD versions.
By the way, as is traditional, the available AWD system maintains power to both axles all the time, with automatic transfer of torque from the wheels that slip to the wheels that grip, even if it’s only a single wheel, via Nissan’s torque vectoring system.
Furthermore, the two higher Juke trims equipped with the standard CVT also tote Nissan’s touted Integrated Control System (I-Con) with 4 driver-selectable modes—Normal, Sport, Eco and D-Mode—that interface a number of functions from climate control to throttle response. Many reviewers find the Sport mode offers the most exciting driving experience, while others, perhaps more concerned with a blend of fuel economy and performance, claim the D-Mode works best for them. Virtually all agree that the Eco mode, while doubtless saving on the fuel budget, offers such insipid acceleration as to be all but worthless.
Testing of a FWD 2013 Juke equipped with the CVT found it galloping to 60 mph in a tolerably quick 7.3 seconds. An AWD-toting version, meantime, made the same journey in essentially the same nifty timeframe.
Reviewers note that this little crossover ute might be a tad hesitant off the line—for which they blame some frustratingly noticeable turbo lag—but virtually all declare that once it gets moving, the blown I4 gains speed quickly and smoothly, with surprisingly alert throttle response. Finally, most reviewers find the I4 to be noisy on hard acceleration, with little improvement in the noise factor even at cruising speeds.
Ride & Handling
For 2013, the Juke lineup once again offers a front independent suspension bolstered by MacPherson front struts. This is once more complemented by a torsion beam rear suspension and stabilizer bars in front and rear. Those Juke trims sporting AWD trade the torsion beam rear end for a multilink independent rear suspension, allowing added torque vectoring to the rear wheels, when needed. Suspension tuning is, according to Nissan, geared more toward the sport-minded, as opposed to the touring-oriented.
Nevertheless, most reviewers claim at least a decently comfortable ride in the latest Juke offerings, with small bumps absorbed quite nicely. Larger bumps, however, will be felt, and most reviewers find that the Juke’s ride is noticeably stiffer than that found in most rivals. All three Juke trims sport 17-inch alloy wheels and all-season tires, thus wheel size is a non-factor in ride comfort.
Handling-wise, this subcompact crossover boasts a fairly wide track that, according to reviewers, works well with the standard wheels and tires to straighten out curves and to handle twisted back roads with a confident flair, especially in those versions equipped with available AWD. Steering is described in most reviews as nicely weighted, with body lean in hard corners noted as well-controlled, adding measurably to an already heady driving experience.
Brakes, finally, are described by most reviewers as good enough for this little ute’s purposes, with tests showing the Juke coming to a stop from 60 mph in 123 feet, which is noted by reviewers to be about average for the class.
Cabin & Comfort
Entering the base Juke S trim, prospective owners should look for such standard amenities as cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, remote power door locks, power-adjustable mirrors and power windows. A trip computer, cruise control and tilt-wheel steering, of course, remain standard aboard this entry-level trim, as do steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, air conditioning and Bluetooth hands-free communications. For entertainment, this base trim offers an MP3-capable single-CD player boasting 6 speakers and auxiliary iPod interface.
The midlevel SV, meanwhile, gains standard premium cloth upholstery, a power sunroof, a leather and simulated alloy steering wheel and satellite radio over its lesser sibling.
Standard goodies in the top-shelf SL, meantime, include leather upholstery, heated front seats, a rear-view camera and automatic climate control, as well as upgraded leather and simulated alloy cabin trim accents. Audio upgrades, meanwhile, include an updated Rockford Fosgate system with 7 premium speakers, a memory card slot and USB connection, and a memory-card-based navigation system with 5-inch color touchscreen display and real-time traffic.
Options for all trims include the new-for-2013 Midnight Edition Package, featuring a Sapphire Black rear spoiler and outside mirror caps, along with black aluminum alloy 17-inch wheels, as well as the Sport Accessory Package, with upgraded wheels, stainless steel exhaust tips and rear spoiler. The Chrome Accessory Package is also available to all three trims and boasts some upgraded exterior chrome. Many of the above packaged items are additionally available in standalone form, as are splash guards and front fog/driving lights.
The available Juke NISMO sub-trim, meanwhile, offers a more aerodynamic profile and 18-inch alloy wheels mounting performance tires, with most of its further standard amenities mirroring those found in the SV trim. Optional in this more svelte species is the Rockford Fosgate audio system and navigation suite found standard in the flagship SL and optional for the midlevel SV trim. Additionally, this pizzazz-packing trim boasts standard daytime running lights.
Most reviewers find the Juke’s interior styling as innovative as its exterior. Most reviewers concede, however, that some budget-minded interior trim pieces are painfully obvious, most notably the headliner and the plethora of hard plastic. The dashboard, meanwhile, flaunts what most reviewers describe as clear, easy-to-read gauges, while climate and audio controls are noted to be well-placed and well-marked. The I-Con display is noted by reviewers to be especially informative and effective.
A decently tall profile leads most reviewers to commend forward and side visibility, though all note that thick rear roof pillars don’t help the view to each rear quarter. Additionally, reviewers warn of cramped rear quarters, not surprising in this downsized crossover, with most again somewhat disappointed at the frustratingly constricting rear passenger door openings. Finally, a number of reviews note that the smallish cargo capacity in the Juke is further compromised by the inconveniently located rack for the owner’s manual, mounted as it is on one of the rear seatbacks. This rack must be removed to utilize the Jukes full capacity, while the fold-down rear seatbacks fold flat only with the front seats hiked well forward.
Traditionally sporting admirable safety features, the 2013 version of Nissan’s cute Juke crossover ute again boasts standard 4-wheel antilock brakes with emergency braking assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, as well as the traditional traction and stability control. Front and rear head airbags again come standard, as do dual front side-mounted airbags and front head restraint whiplash protection. A remote antitheft alarm is standard across the lineup, while the flagship SL trim sports standard front fog/driving lights that are optional in the S and SV.
Again the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Juke lineup its second-best 4 stars in overall safety, with 4 stars also awarded for rollover protection. The Administration’s best 5 stars were awarded, meanwhile, for side crash worthiness, and its third-best 3 stars awarded for front impact testing.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), meantime, graces the 2013 Juke with its Top Safety Pick award, as this pint-sized crossover gained the Institute’s best score of Good in all testing criteria.
What Owners Think
Most of those with the confidence to purchase the quirky Juke crossover are overwhelmingly pleased with this little gem. However, some not-so-pleasant details have not completely escaped notice. Gas mileage, for example, is mentioned by a number of owners as not living up to expectations—or to Nissan’s claims. Additionally, the cramped rear seat space, though not totally unexpected, nevertheless draws a few negative comments from owners who didn’t foresee it as being that small. Of course, a number of owners note that the Juke’s controversial styling could be a turn-off, though it was an obvious deal-maker in the case of many, and again, a few owners are disappointed that AWD trims are burdened with a substantially smaller gas tank than FWD-equipped trims. Finally, a couple of owners are disappointed with the lack of a driver’s side door armrest, while some noticeable turbo lag on hard acceleration leaves more than a few owners cold.
On a more positive note, virtually all owners are delighted with the fact that they’re driving a, let’s say, unusually funky looking commuter car. Many owners, moreover, go on to claim satisfaction with their mileage numbers with the FWD- and CVT-toting trims, while many owners are proud to admit a thrill from this little crossover’s jaunty agility. Finally, the turbocharged I4 gets a ton of praise from owners for its surprising pick-up (after the initial turbo lag runs its course), as well as its almost flawless performance on the highway.
by Eric Tallberg
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Nissan Juke Questions
Is A Nissan Juke A Good Car For A 18yr Old?
Hi, I drive a Volkswagen beetle now and it's really small and I want something with four doors I've been driving now for 2yrs and never been in a wreck or got a ticket. So I'm wondering do you th...