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2016 Nissan Juke Overview
In a world where many mass-market cars seem virtually indistinguishable from each other (aside from their badges and a handful of styling cues), you have to give the Nissan Juke credit for being one of the most unique vehicles currently on the road. It has notable shortcomings--and love-it-or-hate-it styling--but at least it’s proudly different and continues to look a bit like a futuristic concept car even five years after it was introduced. A growing number of competitors now includes the Honda HR-V, Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X and Mazda CX-3, but the Juke is an entirely different machine even from its fellow compact SUVs. It’s more performance- and driving-oriented than an SUV, and more utility-oriented than a car, so it’s almost in a category of its own--and Nissan probably wanted it that way.
Changes for the 2016 Nissan Juke include added Siri Eyes Free control for iPhones, and factory options include premium paint, an SV Technology Package, and an SV Cold Weather Package. For those who want to add a personal touch to an already distinct automobile, Nissan also offers the Juke Color studio program, allowing customers to individually color their Juke’s wheels, rear spoiler, door handles, sills, headlight trim, and fascia trim. The 2016 Juke comes in five trims: the S, SV, SL, NISMO, and NISMO RS.
Compared to other pint-sized SUVs on the market, the Nissan Juke remains far and away the top dog in terms of performance. While most of its competitors make do with somewhere around 140 hp, the Nissan Juke gets 188 hp from its 1.6-liter turbocharged and direct-injected 4. That power will push the Juke from 0 to 60 mph in a respectable 7 seconds, and all versions are available in either front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). AWD versions get independent rear suspension and FWD Jukes get a somewhat antiquated torsion beam rear end. The range-topping NISMO RS, meanwhile, gets a tweaked version of the I4 that’s good for 215 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. The regular NISMO does have the same engine as the rest of the Juke range, but adds alloy wheels, stiffer suspension, and sport seats. A 6-speed manual is available, but unfortunately only with FWD. Most buyers will therefore end up with a continuously variable transmission (CVT)--FWD Jukes with a CVT can get fuel economy of 28 mpg city/34 highway.
While the Juke is geared more towards fun driving than its competition, it does sit up high like an SUV, so don’t expect it to handle like a GTI. Its steering has been praised for being quick and responsive, however, and SV and SL trims equipped with Nissan’s I-CON adjustable steering and transmission response system come with three driving modes (Eco, Normal, and Sport) that adjust the steering's sharpness. The Juke is also available with torque-vectoring AWD, although any kind of off-roading other than traversing some leaves or a muddy driveway probably isn’t a great idea.
If the Juke sacrifices handling for the sake of its SUV attributes, it also sacrifices practicality in order to take on some of the characteristics of a smaller sporty hatchback. With the rear seats in their normal position, rear cargo space is a fairly dismal 10.5 cubic feet, and even folding the rear seats down only brings cargo space to 35.9 cubic feet total. By comparison, a normal hatchback like a Mazda 3 has about 45 cubic feet. But even so, the Juke does have a certain charm going for it. Passengers access the rear seats by neat hidden exterior door handles, and the contrast stitching, door trim, and swoopy center console make the interior seem like a cool place to be. Some of the switchgear might feel cheap, but, after all, the Juke is a cheap car.
Most modern cars are considered quite safe, and while the Nissan Juke isn’t dangerous by any means, it still doesn’t have a stellar crash test record. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave it a Poor rating on the front overlap test (although it did receive a Good rating in every other test) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave it 3 out of 5 stars for the frontal crash test and 4 out of 5 stars overall. Standard safety features for the 2016 Juke include the usual 6 airbags and stability and traction control, and standard on the Juke SL and optional on the SV is the Around View monitoring system with Moving Object Detection.
It’s hard to put the Nissan Juke into any single category, but the best way to look at it is as a sort of jacked-up sport hatchback; and even though the design is half a decade old, the Juke still looks like it could be a car from 2025.
Andrew Newton first got into cars through vintage racing a Formula Vee. After receiving history degrees, he followed his passion for cars and became a contributor for sites like Sports Car Digest, BoldRide.com and JamesEdition.com in addition to serving as Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. Andrew currently covers the collector car market full time as Auction Editor for Hagerty Classic Car Insurance.
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