KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 6/28/2011
If the high cost of gas has one silver lining, it's the proliferation of fun, cool and feature-rich small cars. No longer do frugal-minded drivers have to settle for a bare-bones subcompact - not when there are radically shaped five-passenger vehicles like the 2011 Nissan Cube from which to choose. With a price starting around $15,000, the Cube doesn't ask owners to settle for less, offering a long list of standard safety features that have helped earn it an IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) Top Safety Pick award. Its unique exterior design, highlighted by the asymmetrical rear end and iPod-like lines, help the 2011 Nissan Cube stand apart from other box-type compacts (think Scion xB), as does its long list of unusual options and accessories.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you need the practicality of a roomy small car that gets good gas mileage, but your creative side strives to own something you don't see in every driveway, the 2011 Nissan Cube is just the ticket. Unique accessories, like the shag dash pad, are both fun and functional.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're thinking you'd like all the versatility and cuteness of the Cube, but with all-wheel-drive or a more powerful engine, you might be better off looking at something like the Suzuki SX4 or Nissan Juke.
What's Significant About This Car?
For 2011, the Cube SL Preferred Package and Krom Edition gain an SD card-based navigation unit with five-inch color touchscreen, XM NavTraffic capability and USB connectivity.
While we doubt many driving enthusiasts will find the 2011 Nissan Cube much to write home about, as daily transportation it works just fine. On the highway, the Cube exhibits noticeable wind and road noise, but no worse than in most cars for this price range. The Cube's inoffensive road manners include acceptable acceleration, reasonably tight steering and a suspension that delivers a smooth ride even when encountering uneven or choppy pavement. The Cube excels in the tight and narrow confines that are the urban jungle. With its small turning radius, compact dimensions and available rear parking sensors, the Cube is one of the easiest small cars to park and maneuver.
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.
The 2011 Nissan Cube has an interior unlike any we've seen. The dash and door panels are peppered with rounded shapes, and interesting textures can be found throughout the cabin. Above the passenger's heads is a large dome light surrounded by grooved ripples radiating out across the headliner; the same effect, which mimics a pebble dropped in water, is repeated on the speaker covers. The Cube's upright sides make for a spacious interior capable of accommodating up to five people. Helping to balance the space requirements of both passengers and cargo is a sliding rear seat, which can be moved several inches fore or aft. Head and shoulder room is ample in all seating positions; the same can be said for legroom, especially in the rear seats.
Due to the angles of its body and the softened curved corners, the 2011 Nissan Cube might have more aptly been named the Nissan Die. Not quite cube-like, the Cube's rounded fenders, headlamps and taillights are more oval in design, while its door and window cut outs feature similar contoured corners.
Notable Standard Equipment
Without question the most interesting aspect of the Cube is its asymmetrical rear section that features wrap-around glass on one side and a body-color pillar on the other. Adding to the Cube's distinctiveness is a wide variety of exterior accessories, not to mention the super-stylish factory-modified Krom edition.
Standard features found on the base 2011 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 Edition offers a Rockford Fosgate audio system with subwoofer, XM Satellite Radio, SD navigation with NavTraffic, 20-color interior lighting package, Intelligent Key keyless entry and start, five-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 standalone options offered for the 2011 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, SD navigation with NavTraffic, 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 2011 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 2011 Nissan Cube starts at just over $15,000 for the base trim level, while the well-equipped SL trim starts at about $18,500 and the top-of-the-line Krom checks in at around $22,000. The Cube's base price is $1,000 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 on kbb.com. In terms of resale, the Nissan Cube is expected to hold its value well over time, with residuals slightly better than the Scion xB, and much better than the Kia Soul and Chevrolet HHR.