2014 Nissan Juke Walk Around

The Nissan Juke is a functional, practical package in a compact vehicle that stands out in the crowd for its styling, heavy on the humps. It couldn't be called pretty, but it definitely turns heads. Women especially think it's cute, in an ugly duckling sort of way; in fact, it's become a chick's car, call it the Miata of SUV's. But there's nothing girlish about the Midnight Edition, which looks plenty macho with its 17-inch black Wheels, black spoiler and dark tinted glass.

The design shouts originality. Raked windshield, high beltline, broad shoulders, roundish nose, low bugeye headlamps inspired by rally lights, with round foglights in the air dam. Amber running lights and turn signals are slapped onto big-arched fenders, a brilliant effect whether you like it or not. Rarely have turns signals so shaped the look of a car.

High ground clearance hints at Monster truck. Aggressively edged fender flares hang over standard big 17-inch wheels that still don't fill the wheel arches. The 18-inch wheels with summer tires on our Nismo did, though; its black paint swallowed the gap.

There's a family resemblance to the Nissan Murano and Infiniti FX, and even the Infiniti G sedan. The taillights borrow their boomerang shape from the Nissan 370Z sports car. The vertical door handles hide in the pillars, so it looks like a two-door.

The available Midnight Edition, black everything including dramatic spoked wheels, makes it look really hot. It looks beautiful in metallic charcoal brown, with gold specs in the paint catching the sun. There's also a nice metallic blue, and four different shades of gray. The optional Gunmetal finish wheels emphasize the somber effect, while the optional chrome package counteracts it.


The Juke offers more comfort and space than its compact exterior suggests. The seats are just right in the standard rugged fabric, and marvelous in the Nismo's perforated cloth (with suede door trim and steering wheel). The fabric looks best in dark charcoal, and the leather is terrific in rich brown. There's good bolstering to keep the driver's body in place, although the suspension allows upper body sway.

Overall, it's a nice driver's cabin. The gearshift is high and the seat is high, making the car feel bigger in the world, and enabling the driver to see over the tops of the big round fenders with their bugeye turn signals. There's more good visibility in the mirror, as the rear glass looks small from the outside, but it fills the rearview mirror.

Naturally there isn't much legroom in the rear seat, only 32.1 inches. The Juke is a 5-seater, but three people in the back seat will be squeezed in every direction but up, and maybe that too. So the Juke works great for one or two people, with the 60/40 seats folded flat and the rear doors to access stuff. With the seats up, there is 10.5 cubic feet of cargo space in the hatch, comparable to a fairly small trunk.

However there's 35.9 cubic feet of cargo space with the 60/40 rear seat folded flat, which it does with one touch. That's more than the Nissan Versa hatchback, but quite a bit less than the Kia Soul (50.4 cubic feet) and way less than the Honda Fit (57.3). Closer to the Mini Countryman (41.3).

Front-wheel-drive Jukes have a couple more cubic feet of storage in a bin under the load floor. On the awd Juke, the space is used by suspension and drive bits.

Disappointingly, the door panels and dash covering are hard, scratchy and hollow-sounding. The trim is hard glossy plastic, painted silver or candy-apple red; it looks great and has been well-received.

The gauges have clear black faces with white lettering and red needles, with brushed aluminum-like rings around the speedometer and tach. In the Nismo, the tack turns red at 6000 rpm, which in our opinion is just stupid. Trip info is digitally displayed in a little window between them, but to scroll through the items you have to reach around behind the steering wheel to a small dial, and that's quite distracting–some will stick their arm through the steering wheel to reach it. It's been that way for four model years, and we think Nissan should fix it. Some cars have info scroll on the steering wheel.

The center stack is beautifully big and wide, squarish with rounded corners. At the top sits the audio system or the 5-inch navigation screen. The buttons, knobs and dials are all easy to use, including climate control on base models, or the I-CON (for integrated controls) system on all other Juke models. I-CON is like a central command, with different display colors and functions, depending on the mode it's in. A screen shows useless information, from g forces to eco scorecards.

The shape of the center console was inspired by a motorcycle gas tank. It's lovely and adds contour and color to the car's interior. The console is a shapely tube, painted rich and glossy in candy-apple or silver. Sharing the space between the seats, there's an E-brake lever, two cupholders, a coin holder and a stash bin.

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