Fun to drive, funky to look at, and functional to live with, the 2011 Nissan Juke is by no means everyone’s cup of tea. The Juke is downright dazzling from some angles, and the acquired taste that is its front end will immediately send some potential buyers into a tizzy while making others dizzy. Truly memorable vehicles are the ones not everyone had a penchant for, the sort of vehicle so unperfect for certain people that it’s completely perfect for others.
GoodCarBadCar.net’s already been clear on the Nissan Juke’s driving manners: they’re terrific. But the nimble Juke isn’t just a sporty alternative to the Rogue and other small SUVs and crossovers, it’s a high-value answer to an often surprisingly expensive equation. Priced from $18,960, the Juke is a quick and light-on-its-feet substitute for the increasingly boring flock of staid and pervasive small car-based cute-utes clogging North American highways.
To the Nissan Juke’s credit, it’s small, really a whole lot smaller than you expect it’ll be. This comes with demerits, the obvious one being a somewhat claustrophobic rear seat. Fortunately, the Juke’s corners are easily sighted, its quick steering helps position it smartly on twisty roads, and you won’t feel like you’re forced into driving a school bus just because you desire an elevated seating position. Many will find that, despite idiosyncrasies, the Juke is the closest thing to a phantasmagoric automotive experience.
Engines: 188 horsepower; 177 lb-ft of torque from a 1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder
Base USD/CAD Price: $18,960 / $19,998
City Fuel Economy: 24-27 miles per gallon
Torque Vectoring: Nissan’s fantabulous torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system continuously monitors vehicle speed, the speed of the wheels, lateral g forces, yaw rate, your selected gear, and the steering angle in order to perfectly distribute torque to the front or rear axle, and even the appropriate corner. 50% of the Juke’s available torque can be sent to one individual rear corner.
Sales Stats: It’s early days, but in the first recorded month of Nissan Juke sales, Nissan Canada found 83 buyers and Nissan USA an astounding 2103. The Juke is intended to be a niche player beneath the Nissan Rogue, a sidebar to the Nissan Sentra. If October 2010 was anything to go by, the Juke could have more mass market appeal than previously thought.