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.