Accompanied by a host of U.S.-specific details absent from its reveal in Geneva, the 2011 Nissan Juke made its American debut in New York. Smaller than the Rogue and to be offered in a variety configurations, Nissan's unconventionally styled answer to the MINI goes on sale here in the fall at a price projected to start under $20,000. Three trim levels -- S, SV and SL -- plus the choice of front or all-wheel drive and a host of optional equipment will allow buyers to create a unique variation on the theme that best suits their particular needs and tastes.
Intent on challenging convention, the Juke's distinctive bodywork definitely pushes the visual limits in ways Nissan's Senior Vice President for Design and Chief Creative Officer Shiro Nakamura, claims "will bring something different for customers -- something more emotional, energetic, more masculine." Inside, this "B-segment" crossover has a bit more traditional appearance and provides room for five with flexible seating/cargo configurations and a solid roster of standards headed by sport-bolstered bucket seats, six-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with supplemental steering wheel controls, Bluetooth and front/front-side/side-curtain airbags. Juke options include a a navigation system with XM Satellite Radio and NavTraffic capabilities, Intelligent Key Push Button Start, Rear View Monitor, power moonroof, leather upholstery and the first use of Nissan's new Integrated Control (I-CON) system that oversees settings for the automatic climate package as well as the three (Normal /Sport/Eco) drive modes that link mapping for the throttle/steering/auto transmission.
At launch, all Juke variants will be fitted with a 1.6-liter Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) turbocharged four-cylinder that will make in excess of 180 horsepower and develop more than 170 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choices will include Nissan's Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) complete with paddle-shifted "S-Mode" that simulates six virtual gear ratios or a conventional six-speed manual gearbox on the front-drive Juke 1.6 SV and 1.6 SL models. Whether we'll see other engines or a Juke Hybrid remains to be seen.
All 2011 Nissan Juke models come with a sport-tuned suspension that includes standard vehicle dynamics control/traction control systems, anti-lock brakes and 17-inch alloy wheels that mount 215/55R17 all-season tires. Opting for an all-wheel-drive version also will net a slick torque vectoring system that delivers a normal 50/50 front/rear split but can vary the rear apportionment from side to side to help reduce understeer and improve tracking through corners.