KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
It is a good time to be an entry-level car buyer. In the not-too-distant past, saving money on your new-car purchase meant settling for subpar comfort, safety and style. Those days are now long gone, and if you need proof, just look at the 2010 Nissan Cube. Despite a starting price under $15,000, the Cube offers a host of advanced safety features (it's a top safety pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), a roomy five-passenger interior, an impressive standard equipment list and a bevy of high-end options and accessories. Maybe the most striking aspect of the Nissan Cube is its design. Blocky car design is nothing new, but risky features like an asymmetrical rear end, modern iPod-like lines and an intense attention to details help the Cube stand apart from the other slickly-styled economy wagons out there.
You'll Like This Car If...
You'll like the Nissan Cube if you need modestly priced transportation but also have a keen eye for design. At this price it's hard to find a more stylish, if somewhat polarizing, design than the Nissan Cube. Fashion-conscious buyers will also like the wide variety of accessories available for the Cube.
You May Not Like This Car If...
You may not like the Nissan Cube if maximum fuel economy is your top concern. Other entry-level cars - for example, the Honda Fit and Kia Soul - deliver better economy at a similar price. Also, the Cube's blocky asymmetrical shape may not suit everyone's taste.
What's New for 2010
New standard features on the Cube S include an iPod interface, MP3-CD playback ability and two additional speakers (six total). The S and SL trims gain Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio control, while the Krom edition receives Nissan's Intelligent Key with push button ignition and a 4.3-inch color monitor with USB connectivity and the RearView Monitor backup camera.
The 2010 Nissan Cube's road manners could best be described as inoffensive. There is acceptable power when accelerating, the steering is reasonably light and responsive and the suspension delivers a supple ride even over broken stretches of pavement. Driving enthusiasts won't find much to get excited about, but as daily transportation the Cube works great. At freeway speeds, wind noise is noticeable, but no worse than one would expect of a car in the Cube's price range. Minor quibbles aside, the Nissan Cube excels at providing a pleasant ride, especially within the narrow confines of an urban environment where its tight turning radius, compact dimensions and optional rear parking sensors make the Cube maneuverable and easy to park.
Making a strong impression with your looks is good, but doing so without spending a fortune is great. Love it or hate it, the Nissan Cube provides an undoubtedly eye-catching design at a price almost any car buyer can afford.
With only a cursory glance one might overlook the unique form of the Cube's headliner. Even though a flat headliner would have been perfectly acceptable, Nissan's designers decided to simulate the ripples created by dropping a pebble in water. The result is an interesting conversation piece and an indicator of Nissan's commendable attention to detail.
Inside, the Cube's designers clearly put efforts into creating a unique and stylish space. Rounded shapes, interesting textures and a headliner and speaker covers that recall the ripples caused by dropping a pebble in a lake create a cabin that exudes high fashion. Aesthetics aside, the five-passenger Cube makes the most of its compact exterior dimension with an impressively roomy interior. Head and shoulder room is ample in all seating positions. Leg room is good too, especially in the rear seats, which recline and slide several inches fore and aft, helping balance the space requirements of passengers and cargo.
In terms of exterior design, the 2010 Nissan Cube both embodies and defies the implications of its name. Its shape is generally cube-like, most notably when viewed in profile. Yet, the angles of its body are softened with curved corners, round fenders and head and tail lights that look like elongated ovals. The most interesting feature is an asymmetrical rear section that features wrap-around glass on one side and a body-color pillar on the other. Buyers looking to enhance the Cube's visual impact can choose from a host of exterior accessories or opt for the super-stylish factory-modified Krom edition.
Notable Standard Equipment
Standard features found on the base 2010 Nissan Cube include a two-speaker audio system with auxiliary input, air conditioning, power locks with remote entry, a six-speed manual transmission and 15-inch steel wheels. The S trim adds a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, an iPod interface, steering-wheel audio controls, body color mirrors and cruise control. SL models get automatic climate control, automatic headlights and 16-inch alloy wheels. The Krom trim offers a Rockford Fosgate audio system with subwoofer, 20-color interior lighting package, Intelligent Key keyless entry and start, 4.3-inch color monitor with RearView Monitor and a body kit with rear spoiler. Standard safety features include stability and traction controls, anti-lock brakes with brake assist and six airbags.
Notable Optional Equipment
There are a few stand alone options offered for the Nissan Cube, such as the 20-color interior accent lighting and the Interior Designer Package. Most other options require buyers to move up to the next-higher trim level to add equipment. The exception is the Preferred Package, offered for the SL trim, that adds a six-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system, RearView monitor, XM Satellite radio, keyless entry and engine start and fog lights. Small businesses might appreciate the special-order Cargo option, offered for the base Cube, which deletes the rear seats, armrests, cup holders and seatbelts, transforming the Cube into an efficient delivery vehicle.
Under the Hood
There is one engine offered for the 2010 Nissan Cube, a 1.8-liter four cylinder rated at 122 horsepower. Power is acceptable for a small, inexpensive and fuel-efficient car, but those who value rapid acceleration may be disappointed by the Cube's performance. On base and S trims, a six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is optional on the S Trim and standard on SL and Krom trims. The CVT does a good job in maximizing the engine's output and actually offers better fuel economy than the manual transmission, but some buyers may be put off by the way the engine seems to race under hard acceleration.
1.8-liter in-line 4
122 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
127 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/31 (CVT), 25/30 (manual)
Pricing for the 2010 Nissan Cube starts at just over $14,500 for the base trim level, while the well-equipped SL trim starts at about $18,000 and the top-of-the-line Krom checks in at around $21,000. The Cube's base price is slightly higher than the Kia Soul's but nearly $1,700 cheaper than the Scion xB's. To compare the actual transaction prices that consumers are paying for the Nissan Cube, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price. In terms of resale, the Nissan Cube is expected to hold its value well over time. However, while its residuals will not be as strong as those of the Scion xB, the Nissan Cube is expected to hold its value better than the Soul.