Nissan's Juke is an edgy small sport utility vehicle designed to capture a youth-oriented market, and offers some update modifications for 2015.
The latest Nissan Juke hatchback is offered in five grade levels, each available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive: S, SV, SL, NISMO and JUKE NISMO RS.
A fresh front end look combines new projector beam headlights and LED front Signature accent lamps. The side rearview mirrors add standard integrated LED turn signal repeaters, and the rear fascia features a more aggressive shape to match the revised boomerang taillights with LED accents.
A bright metallic exterior has turn signal assemblies that sit like a glass bubble on top of the ridged fenders. Light assembly bubbles are at the rear, too. This bubble design also has been incorporated into the Leaf, Nissan's all-electric car.
New standard features include Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Start, RearView Monitor and NissanConnect with Mobile Apps - including a 5.0-inch color display, USB connection port for iPod interface. Three new exterior colors are offered for 2015 - Super Black and "hard-to-ignore" Solar Yellow and Cosmic Blue. JUKE is now available in a choice of nine exterior colors.
Open and close latches are placed vertically and at the top of the two rear door frames.
Overall, the look is of a small vehicle with buggy eyes.
The bubble design supposedly helps with aerodynamics, letting air flow up and past exterior mirrors, thus improving fuel economy. If so, fuel savings are negligible.
But the design allows Nissan publicists to claim the Juke leans more towards a sports car than an SUV. Some in the automotive media refer to the Juke as a crossover or a hatchback and that is OK as it is a combination unibody car made to work like a sport utility. Technically, a hatchback is a car that replaces the trunk with a rear liftgate opening to a storage compartment. Cars usually have ground clearances of five to five-and-a-half inches. The Juke's is 6.6 inches. It is that raised suspension which makes this vehicle eligible for modest off-roading. Try that with a hatchback with a five to a five-and-a-half inch ground clearance.
The bubble design has become Nissan's design signature, such as Jeep's waterfall grille or Cadillac's thin, long and vertical taillight assemblies.
Juke owners can choose their own unique colorful interiors. Nissan's color studio lets buyers choose from an assemblage of colorful packages and accessories. The company promise is "100 percent original, 100 percent you." Color studio accessories vary in price.
In a recently tested 2015 Juke SL, sparkling red metallic trim was placed on the console and doors, which matched the tight red stitching of the black leather seats.
Although it shares edgy design elements with the Leaf, the Juke has more seating and cargo space. Three adults can sit fairly comfortably in front buckets or the rear split and fold rear bench seat.
When the rear splits are folded, they fold flat to evenly meet the floor of the dedicated cargo area. This is an engineering feat matched by some hatchback and sport utility competitors but not many. Usually there is a lean to the "flattened" rear split seats or there is an inch or two of height difference between them and the cargo area.
Storage behind the upright rear split bench seat is 10.5 cubic inches, which is the norm for a small crossover/SUV. When that rear seat gets flattened, cargo space expands to 36 cubic feet. Competitors such as Kia's Soul and Scion's xB have much more storage space. They are upright boxy vehicles.
Contributing to the unimpressive Juke's storage figure is the sloping rear roof which cuts into interior cargo space. Rear sightlines also are poor. Another drawback to the Juke is recommended usage of premium fuel. Perhaps the use of premium fuel, which allows the engine to operate more efficiently, pays off. During a test week in a 3,026-pound, all-wheel-drive Juke, fuel usage averaged 30.5 miles per gallon. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the tested Juke SL at 26 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. Jukes have a 13.2-gallon fuel tank.
Built on Nissan's proven global B-platform, the non-Nismo models achieve admirable fuel economy from a 1.6-liter, 16-valve, direct injection turbo, four-cylinder gasoline engine with 188 horsepower for three (S, SV, SL) Juke models. In the tested model, the engine was mated to a continuously variable transmission, although a six-speed manual is available. The Nismo RS four-cylinder develops 215 horsepower.
Since the tested model was an SL, it came with Nissan's Integrated Control System. This means owners can choose between three modes of driving. They are Sport, Normal and Eco. Readouts on torque are provided for each mode. In Sport mode, the Juke has been tested racing from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 7.3 to 7.9 seconds.
Disc brakes front and rear can bring the Juke to a stop from 60 mph in a distance of 122 to 125 feet, which is average for a subcompact. Rotors measure 11.7 inches in front and 11.5 inches in the rear.
Prices range from $21,075 for an entry front-wheel-drive S model to $30,020 for a Nismo RS all-wheel-drive sportster. In between are the $22,300 SV and $25,240 SL models. Delivery is an additional $825 for all models.
The tested SL was equipped with AWD instead of FWD, which raised the asking price to $26,040. Standard power equipment included a moonroof, windows (express up and down driver), door locks, exterior mirrors and remote entry. The SL has a button to push on the dashboard to start or stop this vehicle. Although they move by power, the exterior mirrors fold inward manually. There are fog lights in front plus rear privacy glass.
Also standard on the SL are a navigation system with a five-inch color touch screen, a Rockford Fosgate sound system which adds a subwoofer to the six-speakers serving AM, FM and Sirius XM satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, streaming audio via Bluetooth, compact disc and MP3 players, iPod and auxiliary input jacks. There are floor mats front and rear. The storage area is carpeted.
Niceties include cruise control, air conditioning, cupholders, storage bins, clock, instrumentation information panels, intermittent wipers, rear defroster, rear privacy glass and halogen headlamps with automatic on-off feature.
The ride during the test week was somewhat rough and noise from engine and outside traffic was no stranger to the cabin. The Juke's suspension system relies on MacPherson struts in front and multilinks in the rear. Stabilizer bars are front and rear.
Safety includes a four-wheel antilock braking system, electronic brake distribution, stability and traction controls, seatbelts for five with headrests for four, airbags in front, sides in front and overhead for two rows, tire pressure monitors, and a camera monitoring activity on the sides and the rear.
Warranty coverage is three years or 36,000 miles with 24-hour roadside assistance, and five years or 60,000 miles on the powertrain.
The Juke was designed originally for a European market and was introduced to United States buyers in 2010 as a 2011 product. Built on Nissan's global B (Versa) platform, the 2015 Juke basically has the same measurements, capacities and weights of the introductory 2011 product.
: SL all-wheel-drive model of 2015 Nissan Juke
four-door, five-passenger subcompact crossover vehicle
1.6-liter, 188-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder
42.1 inches front, 32.1 inches rearCargo
: 10.5 cubic feet rear seats up, 35.9 cubic feet seats folded flatP215 tires, alloy wheels:
vented discs, 11.7-inch front, 11.5-inch rear
struts front, multi-links rear, stabilizer bars
premium unleaded gasoline recommendedWarranty:
three years or 36,000 miles with 24-hour roadside assistance, five years or 60,000 miles powertrain