Nissan Juke: 1000 Mile Review

Our Nissan Juke sits in the front yard today. A friend of mine said, "It looks like an animal, ready to pounce."
Our Nissan Juke sits in the front yard today. A friend of mine said, “It looks like an animal, ready to pounce.”

Last night I dreamed my Nissan Juke was so small I could carry it with one hand. In the dream, it even had a handy carry handle.

I just passed the 1000 mile mark on my Juke, and as promised, here are my assessments of its strengths and weaknesses.

The strengths…

  • The Juke is very fun to drive. It handles crisply and obediently. One review I read called it “athletic,” and I agree.
  • Acceleration from the 1.6L in-line 4-cylinder engine with Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is aggressive, especially when the drive mode selector is set to “Sport.”
  • The all-wheel drive improves handling, and also gives it a decent measure of soft-road/off-road credibility. Off-road cred is also helped by its short wheelbase and its short nose and tail, which improve attack and departure angles.
  • Like some of the small airplanes I have flown, the Juke can feel less like getting into a car and more like putting on a car.
  • The interior is well-made and innovative. I particularly like the leather-wrapped steering wheel.
  • The climate controls and drive mode controls, which are integrated together, seem sophisticated and are fun.

The weaknesses…

  • Recommends (but doesn’t require) premium gasoline. A placard on the fuel door says, “For best performance, use premium gasoline.” I ran it almost out of a tankful of 91 octane gasoline the other day, then filled it all the way up with 87 octane, and after 90 miles or so, I haven’t notice much difference.
  • The suspension is very stiff. One result is that rough roads are noisy. On the other hand, it takes speed bumps more gracefully than my Grand Am (which the Juke replaced), which also had a stiff suspension.
  • The off-road aspect is slightly hindered by the placement of the exhaust system, which reduces center ground clearance to just seven inches.
  • It can be a bit unsettling to drive a vehicle with CVT at first – Abby says it “drives her crazy” because it doesn’t shift.
  • The all-wheel drive version’s fuel tank only holds 12 gallons, necessitated by the AWD requiring a full-sized spare tire.

The undecided…

  • While Abby and I both think it is a great-looking car, reviews on the internet either love the looks or hate them. Like all fashion, only the adjudication of history will tell if it has classic or faddish looks.
Driving the Juke is fun the way flying a small airplane is fun. Note that I have installed an Icom IC-2820H (green display) dual band amateur radio below the center control console.
Driving the Juke is fun the way flying a small airplane is fun. Note that I have installed an Icom IC-2820H (green display) dual band amateur radio below the center control console.
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