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2011 Nissan Juke Overview

The world's automakers have jump-started the small-car segment over the past few years, debuting such unique and trendsetting vehicles as the Nissan Cube, the Scion xB, the Kia Soul, and even the Toyota Yaris. Now comes the latest entry into the segment, the Nissan Juke, which borrows its design from the automaker's Qazana concept car, as well as stablemates such as the Nissan Rogue and Murano. In addition, the designers drew inspiration from rally cars of the 1960s and '70s, which helps explain the Juke's bug-like looks.

Running lights and turn signals, for instance, bulge out of the Juke's front fenders, and the round, rally-like headlights are integrated into the grille above the front bumper. Nissan elevated the cabin to provide drivers with a better view of the road, and gives the Juke a coupe-like appearance, with a sloped roofline, tapered windows, and a fastback-style rear end with "boomerang" taillights resembling those on the Nissan 370Z. The pronounced wheel flares were also borrowed from rally cars, according to Nissan. In addition, the automaker built the rear door handles right into the body, resulting in a sleek, sporty body.

The Juke's unique styling continues inside. The center console, inspired by a motorcycle fuel tank, displays a rounded, swooping design with a high-gloss surface. A short-throw shifter, designed for a sporty driving experience on trims with the manual transmission, sits on top of the console. The bolstered front seats on either side offer plenty of support. In the back, a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat provides flexibility for carrying passengers and cargo.

Owners will also find a number of innovations inside, including the optional Integrated Control (I-CON) driver interface system, which makes its debut on the Juke. The I-CON puts a wide range of cabin and performance controls at the driver's fingertips. It features Climate and D (Drive) modes, and displays information on a small color screen on the center console. In Climate mode, owners can adjust the cabin's temperature settings, while in D-Mode owners can choose three different throttle/transmission/steering response settings, including Normal for typical driving, Sport for a more aggressive feel, and Eco for maximum efficiency.

In addition, the I-CON system displays trip information and enables drivers to manage such settings as interior ambient lighting and door unlock sensitivity. A readout located on the instrument panel above the steering wheel displays synchronized information within easy view of the driver.

Despite its compact size, the Juke seats five passengers and comes standard with such features as premium fabric upholstery, a six-way manual driver's seat, a four-way manual passenger seat, speed-sensitive door locks, Bluetooth, an iPod interface system, and an AM/FM/CD audio system with steering-wheel-mounted controls. Optional features include leather upholstery, heated front seats, a navigation system with real-time traffic, and a rear-view monitor.

Power for the Juke comes in the form of an all-new, 1.6-liter Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) four-cylinder engine, which generates 180+ hp and 170+ lb-ft of torque. The engine features both a turbocharger and an intercooler for enhanced performance, while variable valve timing helps ensure good fuel economy and optimal low-end torque. Owners can choose from either a six-speed manual transmission or Nissan's Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) with an S-Mode for sporty driving.

In addition, owners can add Nissan's new torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system, which is available as an option. The AWD system manages torque both front-to-back and left-to-right, depending on a variety of factors, to ensure optimal handling and stability. The system can also send up to 50% of available torque to either rear wheel to help improve traction. In its standard front-wheel-drive configuration, the Juke includes additional storage spaces under the rear cargo floor.

Vehicle-speed-sensing electric power-assisted steering and antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist all come standard on the Juke. Safety features include Nissan's Advanced Air Bag System, which consists of dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags, roof-mounted curtain side-impact airbags, and seat-mounted driver and front passenger side-impact airbags, along with accompanying head restraints and sensors. The Juke rides on 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with all-season tires.


Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.

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