Hands on with the Nissan Juke

The Nissan Juke is one of those cars that really polarizes people.  Either you like its unusual look…. or you don’t.  Either way, the car is distinctive in its style.  It was much taller than I expected it to be.  From the photos I had seen online, I wasn’t sure if it was intending on competing against the Kia Soul, the Ford Edge or the VW Rabbit.  Standing next to it I felt like it was on par with some of the smaller SUVs such as the RAV-4.

The seats were comfortable, a molded bucket seat, but I felt like I was sitting really high.  The interior was clean without a lot of clutter.  However, I could not wrap my head around what the designers were possibly thinking with the dash instrumentation.  Every time I looked down at my gauges, I felt like I was looking at Wall-E.  The instrumentation is two large gauges, but instead of being set back into the dash, there’s this slight cover that sticks out that looked like a separate piece, but wasn’t.  Thankfully the steering wheel was adjustable, otherwise because of the Wall-E eyes, I wouldn’t have been able to see my instrumentation while driving.

Since the seats were already down in the back, I didn’t bother to put them up and see how comfortable the back seats are to sit in, but it is nice that the back seats fold flat.  Although, because of back pillar curves, when the back seats are up, I felt like there would be virtually no storage space.  You’d have to put the back seats down just to go grocery shopping!

The Juke is available in a 2 wheel drive version with a standard or automatic transmission, or an all wheel drive with a dual clutch system.  Since I can’t imagine having a 2 wheel drive vehicle in Colorado, I test drove the all wheel drive.   Unfortunately, I have not been able to discover if that meant the 2 wheel drive Juke was a 2×4 or a front wheel drive. (My salesperson didn’t know and I had nothing but issues with the Nissan site).

1st gear was extremely sluggish and I felt like it red lined easily without me pushing it very hard so I was already up to 4th gear despite me only going 45.  The turbo whine was really obnoxious and was definitely a contributing factor in quick gear changes despite a lower RPM.  The Juke had a nice turning radius and would easily pull a U-turn which is definitely a plus.  Especially as I see this really only being a car for someone who just wants to drive around town.  One of the other salesman promised me the Juke would put a huge smile on my face…. he was wrong.  It’s a cute little car and well loaded for the price, but I wasn’t very impressed with it.

Update 1-12-2011

After reading this review on Car Throttle and reviewing some of the Juke specs, I have begun to wonder if the salesperson had put the car into the economical mode.  Unfortunately, I really don’t feel like my salesperson knew much about the Juke which definitely didn’t help my test drive.  I might take a second look when I test drive the Xterra but I don’t know if changing modes will help the turbo whine or not.  I don’t know that I can drive an automobile that sounds like an RC Car when it’s revved up.

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  • JukieMcJukerson

    Whoever wrote this has no business reviewing anything for the general public. We deserve better. First of all, he doesn’t bother to put the back seats up, but he doesn’t mind commenting on how much room there is in the trunk when ther’re up…hmmmm…i wonder if he’s clairvoyant? Then, he relies totally on what salesman say and not his own research. Not even the most foolhardy car shopper would do that. He then goes on to slam the Juke’s engine performance, seemingly unaware that it has the most horsepower of any car in it’s size/price range. He even seems clueless that turbochargers make a distinctive noise, they always have and always will. From his closing lines, it’s easy to deduce that he was going to pan the little car in his review from the very beginning. This review is an EPIC FAIL. Don’t listen to a word of it.

  • Sorry to disagree with you, but as a member of the general buying public, I have every right to review a product just as you have every right to disagree with me.

    I don’t need to be clairvoyant to know from what I see that the trunk area is very small with the seats up. You can even see that from the photo I took. That space is smaller than most vehicles’ and therefore would be a concern.

    I did not rely solely on what my salesman said. I actually have been looking forward to the Juke coming out so I could see it first hand since I first heard about it months ago. Unfortunately though I didn’t remember the specifics I had read and since the Nissan site is mostly flash, had problems retrieving the information after the fact.

    As for the turbochargers, I’ve been around a lot of cars and yes, I know what a turbocharger sounds like. The Juke sounded more like a child playing with an obnoxious toy than a turbocharged engine.

    I definitely have to disagree that I went in to test drive the Juke just to pan it. It’s a car that was on my list of potential options and as I said, I was very curious to check it out. I even said that it’s very well equipped for the price. But for my driving style and my commute, I would hate to own this car.

  • MrBones

    I also disagree with you on several levels. This is a blog, therein the author can say what she likes/thinks. You don’t deserve anything. You are not entitled to anything. If you like what she has to say, then read on. If not then don’t come trolling around again.
    The car, you say has the most BHP in its class. Well who cares how much HP a car has if it’s geared by John Deere. As for the trunk, pictures speak a thousand words, and you can see that when the seats are up a VW bug has more storage space. ‘nough said.
    Turbo whine? No turbo has to whine. I’ve driven a turbo charged car for several years and it’s perfectly quiet. Not to mention Melissa has driven a turbo car, proven by her (yes HER) other posts. And if in comparison to the Evo or STI the Juke is whiny then that’s what it is.
    You say that the author of the review was out to slam the Juke, but you ignore the positive points she made, like the distinctive looks or the clean/uncluttered interior and the options vs. price.
    IMO this is a solid review. It gave both pro’s and con’s and a personal impression. You would get the same from Top Gear.