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2011 Nissan Cube Overview

Love it or hate it, the 2011 Nissan Cube sure won’t be mistaken for anything but what it is. This odd-looking, five-door, five-passenger compact hatchback wagon has been roaming the U.S. for some three years now and shows just what an up-ended refrigerator on wheels can accomplish. Available in four trims, the base 1.8, 1.8 S, 1.8 SL, and the top-of-the- line 1.8 S Krom Edition, this uniquely styled wagon offers plenty of passenger room, decent cargo space (58 cubic feet with the rear seats folded), an efficient yet almost potent four-cylinder engine, responsive continuously variable transmission (CVT) and a surprisingly plush ride. Unique touches, including a shag-topped dashboard and twenty different shades of interior lighting, complement a fair number of standard gadgets and gizmos. Alas, handling is not a strong point for the Cube, nor will it endear itself to those who like to travel in the fast lane, not to mention the fact that its seats have been described by a couple of reviewers as tolerable only for midrange journeys. Meantime, only Scion’s xB, the original wheeled refrigerator, matches the Cube’s unique look, but a number of other competitors, including the Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit and the Kia Soul might appeal a bit more to the traditionalists of the driving world. Finally, the Cube is offered in front-wheel-drive configuration only.

Only one engine, a 1.8-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4), is available to the 2011 Cube. Two transmissions, however, including a standard 6-speed manual transmission in the base 1.8 and 1.8 S and a silky CVT that’s standard in the 1.8 SL and 1.8 S Krom Edition, each allow this spunky engine to put out 122 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque. The CVT can also be dropped into the 1.8 S as an available option. Gas mileage with the I4 is an EPA-estimated 20/30 mpg for the stick-shift trims and 27/31 for those trims equipped with the CVT, not bad for a wheeled appliance.

Although not bursting at the seams with standard features, the 2011 Cube sports enough doodads to keep driver and passengers content, if not enthralled. The base 1.8 trim level, for example, boasts such standard appearance features and creature comforts as 15-inch steel wheels, cloth upholstery, front bucket seats, reclining and sliding rear seats, remote power door locks, power windows and mirrors, tilt-wheel steering, simulated alloy dash trim and air conditioning. Entertainment, meanwhile, is provided by a single-CD player with auxiliary MP3 capability and two speakers. To this, the 1.8 S trim adds standard premium cloth upholstery, steering-wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls, and the single-CD player with integrated MP3 player and six speakers.

Moving to the upper-midlevel Cube 1.8 SL, meantime, gains standard 16-inch alloy wheels, rear vent ducts, automatic climate control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Finally, the top-shelf 1.8 S Krom Edition, as befits its elevated status, boasts a standard chrome grille, rear spoiler, rear-view camera and simulated alloy trim on the center console, dashboard and shifter knob. Additionally, this flagship Cube trim carries a set of seven Rockford Fosgate speakers, including a subwoofer, as well as a memory-card-based navigation system with voice directions and real-time traffic updates.

The Interior Design Package, with carpeted floormats, a shag dash topper and front door bungees, is optional across the lineup, while such goodies as 15- and 16-inch wheel upgrades, an Aerodynamic Kit Package, and an Exterior Accent Package are available to the 1.8 S trim and above. The 1.8 SL, meantime, is also eligible for the SL Preferred Package with push-button ignition, Nissan’s Intelligent Key system, a rear-view camera, and Rockford Fosgate speakers.

The 2011 Cube may look a little odd, but safety-wise, it’s as solid as they come. Four-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), as well as traction and stability control, are standard for this nifty hatchback, as are front side-mounted airbags, front and rear head airbags and front head-restraint whiplash protection. All trims sport a remote antitheft alarm, while the 1.8 SL and 1.8 S Krom Edition also come equipped with dusk-sensing headlights. The 1.8 SL trim gains front fog/driving lights with the optional SL Preferred Package.

The 2010/2011 Cubes' unique design seems to generate a love-it/hate-it mentality among owners. In any case, owners find too few front armrests and lots of wind noise, especially on the highway, to be worthy of negative comment, while long-haul seat comfort also comes in for a share of owner criticism. Additionally, this hatchback presents a somewhat lofty stance that owners say helps visibility but leads, as well, to some occasionally disconcerting steering and body-lean issues in sharp corners. However, this squared-away Nissan draws more yeas than nays from owners, mainly for its roomy cabin, smooth and quiet CVT, convenient maneuverability in tight places and laudably pleasant ride.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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