By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
What exactly is the Nissan Cube? Part mini-wagon but with a taller profile like a crossover SUV, you'd also be correct if you just called this category-defying compact vehicle exactly what its nomenclature suggests: a box on wheels. And it's a relatively inexpensive one at that, good news for the younger drivers whom this car attracts. With a starting price around $17,500, the 2013 Nissan Cube boasts big style for the money. Because of its shape, the Cube offers lots of versatility, too. Beneath that funky sheet metal is a flexible 5-passenger interior with a surprising amount of space. The Cube isn't as sprightly as the Kia Soul or as fuel efficient as the Mini Cooper Hardtop, but offers its own sense of style at a budget-friendly price.
If your eyes are among those that dig this car's looks, you may not even need another excuse to head to the Nissan dealership. Should further incentive be required, your peepers – and bank account – will appreciate the Cube's low price and easy driving manners.
Visual appeal (or lack thereof) aside, the Nissan Cube is not a highway warrior or a road carver. If you endure a long commute or crave a speedy vehicle that's good at cornering, consider stepping up to the Hyundai Elantra GT, Nissan Juke, Ford Fiesta, or Mini Cooper Clubman.
Only minor changes are in store for the 2013 Nissan Cube, including Sapphire Slate exterior color replacing Golden Ginger and the addition of "PUREDRIVE" badging on all models that signifies Nissan's wider efforts to improve fuel efficiency. The 1.8 base grade is no longer available, and neither is the Cargo Version Package. Also waving goodbye is the Indigo Limited Edition model.
Driving Impressions With its squat and square styling the Cube makes no pretensions of driving exhilaration, so its lack thereof shouldn't come as a surprise. Not that we expect the Cube's buyers...to be itching to carve mountain roads. More likely, they'll be using the Cube to scoot around the city. With just 122 horsepower, the Cube requires some patience getting up to speed on freeways. At higher speeds, the engine drones and the cabin is filled with wind noise, the latter issue an aerodynamic compromise inherent in a vehicle shaped like, well, a cube. At much slower speeds, we appreciated the Cube's tight turning radius that made parking a snap. Cube models with an automatic transmission use a continuously variable version (CVT). CVTs take some getting used to because they feel like you have just one gear instead of several.
INTERIOR DESIGN FEATURES
Is a big tuft of shag carpet in the middle of the dash a bit kitschy? Well yes, but it's a conversation starter and can even be useful. We found that big soft spot a good one to set sunglasses and other items that all too easily scamper about in cars.
SLIDING/RECLINING REAR SEAT
Nissan dubs the inside of its Cube a "lounge," and helps bolster that proposition with the inclusion of rear seats that slide and recline. This allows greater passenger comfort, not to mention flexible cargo room when it's time to haul the dorm-room furnishings.
Rather than mimicking its boxy exterior, the 2013 Cube's cabin is ripe with waves, circles and undulations. The entire dash slinks to and fro, and the air vents are elongated orbs. Take a gander above at the high ceiling, and you'll notice a headliner with a rippling pattern emanating outward from the center dome light, akin to ripples created after a stone plunges into a lake. The seats are spacious, though not exactly supple. The steering wheel tilts but does not telescope. Rear cargo room is limited but can be expanded to over 58 cubic feet with the 60/40-split rear seats folded. Nooks and crannies abound to hold drinks and devices.Exterior
The Cube joins the small cast of other boxy compact vehicles such as Scion xB and Kia Soul, but still manages to stand out from them. Whereas those rivals have taut, angular lines, the Cube's symmetry is softened with rounded edges. And then there are the windows, big orbs of glass that make the Cube look like it jumped to life from a cartoon. The rear-left window especially stands out, as it gives the appearance of wrapping around the corner of the car. Rounded lights front and back complete the square-meets-circle motif. The Cube's rear door swings out toward the left instead of raising vertically like a hatchback.
A base 2013 Nissan Cube S model includes power door locks, windows and mirrors, cruise control, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD player with an auxiliary input, folding rear seats, and a security system. In addition to six airbags, safety features include anti-lock brakes, brake-assist technology and traction-control systems.
Extras available on the 2013 Cube include a Preferred Package that bundles a navigation system with 5-inch touch screen, rearview monitor, and premium Rockford Fosgate speaker system with subwoofer. Individual options include an ambient lighting kit for the interior and aerodynamic enhancements for the exterior. And of course, we can't leave out the interior design kit that includes that dash-mounted tuft of shag carpet. On base S models, a CVT automatic transmission can be had in place of the 6-speed manual.
The 2013 Nissan Cube is powered by a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes a just-adequate 122 horsepower. Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual in base models or a CVT automatic that's standard in SL trim and optional for the S. All Cubes are front-wheel drive. The Cube's highway ratings of 31 mpg with a manual transmission and 30 with the CVT are good but not jaw-dropping. By comparison, a Subaru Impreza reaches up to 36 mpg, a Mini Cooper rates 37 mpg, and a Ford Fiesta can garner the magical 40 mpg.
122 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
127 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/31 mpg (automatic), 25/30 mpg (manual)
By Dan on Thursday, October 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 54,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Perfect reliabilty, suggest upgrading suspension"
Cons: "Careful in wind. a Little light. Get snow tires."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought my 2009 Nissan cube for a all season and then now, a summer only ride. i never thought I'd own one seeing that they were only in Japan for decades. Once I found out they were coming here for a bit, I rushed out to get one. It comes with power everything. Mine is a 6 speed. wonderful transmission. Clutch is long, but you only need like 2 " of it. Tons of room for what seems to be a tiny machine. Great in the rain because water doesnt get in the car due to the flat side. People in the back seat will love the STADIUM SEATING!!! Love the waving from other cube owners. It is definitely the "I want a unique car person" car. Its a little tricky in the wind just like any mini van, truck or other tall vehicle. This is why I had it lowered to reduce the wheel gap and hieght. Handles AWESOME now. I push 30 MPG out of it with the nicely synchromesh 6 speed. I don't need the clucth after 1st gear just like the old Datsun 280ZX. The only changes to the car are: -Side window visors (for rainy hot days-keep the AC off) -Rear roof spoiler -Front air dam -Sub woofer -cold air intake -Upgraded springs Its a blast to drive. Not powerful, but responsive. I would never recommend the CVT for anyone that loves a manual shift car. No issues at all. Still has the original brakes at 54,000 miles. Perfect car so far. Next we'll add a Nissan Juke! :-)"
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Lisa on Tuesday, September 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "roomy interior, good gas mileage, easy handling"
Cons: "could have a little more get up and go power"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love my Cube! I think I will get a newer one too when I am ready to get a new car. It handles great, gas is great, interior is bigger than it looks on the outside...really I have no complaints at all. I get looks everywhere I go cus it is so funky. Love it!"
13 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By kj002 on Tuesday, June 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, cute inside, cup holders, comfy seat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I actually really love this vehicle. I purchased it after I totaled by Kia Soul 2011. My favorite feature of the entire car is the extra cup holder that is on the left side of the steering wheel. I know that sounds ridiculous, to have that feature be my favorite, but really it is great! Its such a nice option as well as many of the cup holders in the car. I love the futuristic look inside the car. I have an automatic and its not exactly a powerful car but I get actually great milage. I live in Seattle, so it is perfect for hills and stop and go traffic. The seats are great and feel like sofa cushion. I also love that the back seat can tilt back if you need! I have fit so much in my Cube! If you think this car looks small from the outside just wait and see how big it is inside. I've stuffed my car full of fencing materials from Home Depot, large boxes, a mattress, dog crates, everything-you name it! Personally, I think this car is almost as ugly as a PT Crusier, but its so ugly its cute! I get stopped by people all the time, wanting to know what it looks like inside and etc. A lot of the things I like about it are the asthetics, but I think that is because the car fits my mileage and driving needs! I would def tell people to take a second look at the car!"
29 people out of 39 found this review helpful
By B on Friday, March 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 43,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Cons: "I do miss the sunglass holder.."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I love my cube. I am not in the 'profile' that this car was aimed at. I would actually have preferred a small wagon- a Sentra sized wagon would have been perfect for me. The size will fool you- you cant believe what fits in it. I have 3 big dogs who fit w/ crates. I travel 4 times a year, 2 hours away, to purchase the dogs raw food. It all fits with room to spare in the cube, at 30+ mpg..I used to take a pickup because I couldn't fit it all in my Sentra, and used twice the gas"
14 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By livingbrown on Monday, December 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun car, Head turner, reliable, great sound system"
Cons: "strange air pressure when rear windows are down"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought my Cube brand new and paid way less then I would have for another vehicle with the same options. The car has headroom to spare! Lots of get up and go for such a fuel efficient engine. Seats are large in the front captains chairs and I easily fit 3 across the back seat! Love the back up camera and bluetooth hands-free phone feature, as well as the great Rockford Fosgate sound system that came installed when I bought it. Lets me plug in my iphone or ipad straight into the dash and pulls my playlist into the stereo so I can use controls on my steering wheel to change songs, as well as having a aux jack for any other device! Have had the vehicle over 2 1/2 years and have never had to do anything except the standard maintenance. Great in snow, never gotten stuck! Huge wrap around windows make for next to no blind spots and just look cool! Love the accents on the interior roof and in all the cup holders as well as the speaker covers! Only beef is that when the rear windows are open at speeds above 30mph, the car makes a noise, which I think is caused by the ripple effect on the ceiling, that hurts the drivers ears...but no other passengers are effected by it...weird. Otherwise great car for a great price!!"
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Nick on Monday, October 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This thing is awesome! It's the roomiest compact out there. Among it's closest related cars, the Kia and the Scion, it is the slowest and most fuel efficient. I was concerned whether it could travel at high speeds but I've had it over 90 without a problem. I get about 30mpg all the time whether I'm on the highway or in the city (it's not exactly aero-dynamic). It's loaded with options and very easy to drive. My kids can stand up in the back seat while they get in but if I want more trunk space I can slide the rear seat forward an entire foot leaving them legroom like any compact but a huge cargo area. It did very well on ice when I traveled. The seat jacks way up giving very good visibility. I drove it 25 miles on a pretty rough dirt road through the mountains and it performed well. I can fit a bicycle inside it with the seats laid down."
19 people out of 20 found this review helpful