Nissan Juke

2016 Nissan Juke

The subcompact Nissan Juke is a sporty small car that tells people you stand out from the crowd. Its an outsider among small crossovers, with different priorities; in other words quirky. It was 2014 Car of the Year in Latvia, hows that for quirky?

Other crossovers like the Honda HR-V, Chevrolet Trax, Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade, and Mazda CX-3 are mainstream. But the Juke sells well with its attitude. Its competition might be seen more in the three-door Hyundai Veloster, or even the Kia Soul. Or if you want a Mazda MX-5 but need a hatchback, you might look at a Juke.

The Juke is a genre-bender. Nissan calls it a bold urban sport cross. It does mix city crossover with adventure, performance, and out-there design. The cabin is small and the ride stiff, like a sports car.

The base engine is a 188-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, with a continuously variable (CVT) transmission standard, and 6-speed manual available.

Juke is front-wheel drive with available all-wheel drive, not to make it an offroad vehicle but to give it better handling and traction onroad. But all-wheel drive means you can drive it on the beach or in snow, for sports or camping.

Then theres the Nismo RS with 215 horsepower, a formidable contender in the hot hatch field.

All models past the base Juke S come standard with driving modes, Nissans I-CON control system. The driver selects the steering, throttle and transmission response, its level of aggression. Economy or performance, driver choice.

At full-on economy, the Juke gets 28/32 miles per gallon City/Highway, and 30 mpg Combined with front-wheel drive. Interestingly, the 6-speed manual gets 34 mpg Highway, metal gears gripping, not belts slipping. Subtract 2 mpg for all-wheel drive, but its worth it, unless you live in the South and just drive back and forth to work.

The Juke doesnt score so well in the small front overlap test, so dont hit a telephone pole. The IIHS gives the Juke top Good ratings in every test except that one, where it got the worst rating of Poor. If youre going to crash a Juke, its best to be T-boned; the NHTSA gave Juke five stars for side-impact crashworthiness. Down to three stars in the frontal crash test, and four stars for rollover resistance.

For 2016, Juke gets available Siri Eyes Free control of iPhones.

2015 Nissan Juke

The Nissan Juke gets a revised front and rear appearance and added features for the 2015 model year. When the quirky Juke subcompact sport-utility was introduced for 2011, it had little competition in North America.

Four years later, however, this refreshed 2015 Juke faces competition from several interesting new entries, including the Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3. All are small crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) derived from subcompact cars.

Juke comes standard with front-wheel drive but offers the option of all-wheel drive (AWD).

With quirky styling, good performance and decent cargo space, the Juke is nearly as practical as it is fun to drive. The name Juke suggests flitting around town, as a boxer might juke around the ring, and thats just what it does: The Nissan Juke is a great car for running errands, hauling small stuff, jumping in and out and parking in tight places. With responsive steering, it hugs twisty roads, though with its short wheelbase and big 17-inch wheels, you do feel the bumps.

Nissan calls the Juke a sport cross, meaning a blend of sports car and crossover utility vehicle. Built on the Nissan Versa platform, Juke is seven inches shorter and three inches wider than the Versa hatchback. Its polarizing, mutant-insect appearance isnt for everyone, but its a hit with buyers who appreciate unusual, eye-catching design in a convenient runabout.

That appearance hasnt changed much until now, but for 2015 Nissan Juke gets new front and rear fascias with Nissans V-Motion grille, projector-beam headlamps and LED front accent lamps complimented in back by revised (Nissan 370Z-like) boomerang taillamps with LED accents. The 2015 Juke also gets LED turn signal repeaters on its outside mirrors, a host of new features, and three new colors (Super Black, Solar Yellow and Cosmic Blue).

Newly standard for 2015 are a RearView Monitor camera, Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Start, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System and Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant, while NissanConnect with Navigation and Mobile Apps and an Around View Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection are newly available.

The second-generation 1.6-liter 16-valve DOHC Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) turbocharged aluminum four-cylinder still makes the same 188 horsepower and 177 pound feet of torque, but with improved fuel efficiency and responsiveness along with lower emissions for 2015.

The new Juke Color Studio program enables buyers to choose custom colors for the front and rear fascia, headlamps, side sills, door handles, mirror caps, rear roof spoiler, and the 17-inch alloy wheels along with select interior pieces including the heater vents. With eight available colors from which to choose, you can match the colors of your favorite sports teams or create your own personalized look.

A performance-oriented Nismo model with a more aggressive exterior, stiffer suspension on 18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, red-stitched synthetic suede interior trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob was added in mid-2013. And that was followed in spring 2014 by a higher-performance Nismo RS, elevating the model count to five: Juke S, Juke SV, Juke SL, Juke Nismo, Juke Nismo RS. All offer a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.

Most models come with Nissans 6-step Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) with Manual Mode and D-step Logic Control, which simulates shifts to make it feel like a conventional automatic. Nismo models offer a choice of a 6-speed manual with front-wheel drive or a NISMO-tuned Xtronic CVT with all-wheel drive. The torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system divides torque up to 50/50 front-to-rear and can split the rear portion side-to-side to enhance cornering stability.

Juke can seat five, though we dont think many adults will want to ride in the rear-center seat for long. Its more comfortable for four. The comfortable front seats are covered in sporty fabric in the Juke SV, leather in the Juke SL, or synthetic suede in Juke Nismo. The distinctive center console is designed to look like a motorcycle gas tank with its hard plastic trim painted glossy silver or metallic red. Folded flat, the standard 60/40 rear seat provides good cargo space behind the front seat.

Fuel economy for the Juke CVT FWD is an EPA-estimated 28/32 mpg City/Highway, or 30 mpg Combined (up one mpg from 2014) and 26/31/28 mpg for Juke CVT AWD. The more powerful 2015 Juke Nismo RS is rated at 215 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque (or 211 hp and 184 lb-ft with AWD), down slightly from 2014. The slightly larger but lighter 1.4-liter turbocharged Chevrolet Trax is similarly rated at 26/34/29 mpg with its 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, 24/31/27 mpg with AWD.

Jukes CVT is a good one. It can be used like an automatic, shifted into Drive and forgotten, or (unlike some) shifted manually through its six speed ranges. The 6-speed manual available on front-wheel drive Juke Nismo models is more fun, especially on the Nismo RS, but power-on torque steer can be annoying.

2014 Nissan Juke

The compact economy crossover all-wheel-drive segment consists of the Nissan Juke. It used to include the pioneering Suzuki SX-4, but Suzuki has left the country and took the SX-4 with them. Take out the word economy and you could add the Mini Countryman that's the same size as the Juke. Maybe the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, but it's larger. There are others that might be considered, from the Honda Fit to Ford Fiesta to Kia Soul, but they're not all-wheel-drive crossovers. They're competitors for the base Juke with front-wheel drive.

Juke has fun styling, sharp performance, and decent cargo space. It's fun car to drive, in a jaunty, engaging way. The name Juke suggests flitting around town, as a boxer might juke around the ring, and it does just that. It uses a 1.6-liter turbocharged direct-injection engine that makes 188 horsepower with 177 pound-feet of torque, and provides quick acceleration around town. It's a great car for running errands, hauling small stuff, jumping in and out, and parking in tight places. It hugs winding roads with its responsive steering. But with its short wheelbase and big 17-inch wheels, you feel the bumps.

Nissan calls the Juke a sport cross, as in crossover between an SUV and sports car. It's built on the Versa platform, but for the sake of sport it's 7 inches shorter and 3 inches wider than the Versa hatchback. It's popular with folks who like eye-catching design. It's been described as looking like an Australian jumping spider, and it's been called the Lady Gaga of compact crossovers.

It hasn't changed much in its three years, although in late 2013 the racy Nismo model was added, bringing action to those sport cross words. The Nismo offers 100 tweaks, including ECU re-mapping that increases the horsepower and torque a bit, a 10 percent stiffer suspension, and a cool presence with hot-looking 18-inch alloy wheels, a spoiler and more. Inside, there's synthetic suede trim with red stitching, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with shift knob.

The Juke is offered in four trim levels counting the Nismo, with either front- or all-wheel drive, and a 5-speed manual transmission or 6-step CVT. The all-wheel-drive system divides the torque 50-50 front/rear, and can move the torque between left and right wheels to meet traction demands.

The Juke seats five, but don't count on more than four for actually going anywhere. The standard rear seat is a fold-flat 60/40, so there's good cargo space behind the front seat, the easiest way to use Juke.

The comfortable front seats are covered with a sporty fabric in the SV and impressive leather in the SL, with classy synthetic suede trim in the Nismo. The center console design is inspired by a motorcycle gas tank, and its hard plastic trim is painted a glossy silver or deep metallic red. It's distinctive and way cool. Center armrest, however, is optional.

The fuel mileage with front-wheel drive and CVT is rated at 27 city/ 32 highway, and with all-wheel drive it's 2 mpg less. In 390 miles of driving with an all-wheel-drive Nismo, including freeway, around-town and a couple of spirited backroads runs with frequent full throttle, we averaged 25.8 mpg. The bad news is that premium gasoline is recommended.

The continuously variable transmission, or CVT, is a good one. It can be used like an automatic, shifted into Drive and forgotten, or shifted manually with six speed ranges. However, in the awd Nismo at least, the CVT isn't sporty enough, because it does too much on its own. A 6-speed manual gearbox is available for models with front-wheel drive. The manual transmission wrings out the quickest acceleration and is the most fun for this car, but the front-wheel drive transmits torque steer and allows understeer. What the Juke needs is all-wheel drive with a manual transmission. Then we'd agree with Nissan and call it a sport cross.


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