By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.1
Although the EPA classifies it as a compact, we're not so sure the 2014 Nissan Cube is so easily pigeonholed. Its boxy shape and versatile interior mimic a small SUV, while its low ground clearance and car-like driving experience tell us the Cube is more like a mini station wagon. One thing is for sure, the Cube's radical styling puts it in a class all its own. From its asymmetrical rear window to its swing-open rear door, the Cube aches to be different. Buyers young and old will love the Cube's sub-$20K starting price, its long list of cool features, and its numerous accessories.
If funky shapes and bold colors appeal to you, the 2014 Nissan Cube is right up your alley. Nissan excels at loading up its cars with a plethora of features for very little money, and the Cube is no exception.
KBB Expert Ratings
Other than a new color (Caspian Blue), there are no major changes to the 2014 Nissan Cube.
Driving Impressions The Cube's boxy body, small tires and anemic engine make no pretense of sporting intentions. But, despite its relative lack of performance potential, the Cube actually scoots about with little...... drama. Even on twisting back roads, the Cube displays competent road manners, although the 1.8-liter engine struggles somewhat when the road ahead angles upward. The continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is actually a better choice in such situations, providing maximum torque and fuel economy. CVTs take some getting used to, however, because they feel like you have just one gear instead of several. Once up to speed, engine drone is quite noticeable inside the cabin, as is wind noise around the pillars and side glass. Around town, the story is a happier one, as the Cube exhibits excellent maneuverability, a tight turning radius, and is a snap to parallel park.
INTERIOR DESIGN FEATURES
From its "pebble dropped in water ripple effect" headliner to its somewhat cheesy shag carpet dash mat, the Nissan Cube's interior is both clever and highly functional. That shag dash mat, for example, keeps sunglasses and cell phones from sliding off the dash better than anything we've experience to date.
SLIDING/RECLINING REAR SEAT
Rear-seat passenger comfort is often lacking in compact cars, but the Cube's sliding and reclining rear seats banish the notion of a cramped rear seat (and cranky rear-seat passengers). Move the seats forward, and the cargo area expands to hold even more stuff.
Rather than mimicking its boxy exterior, the 2014 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. 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 rising vertically like a hatchback.
A base 2014 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. The SL adds a CVT automatic transmission, Nissan Intelligent Key with push-button starter, automatic climate control, 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, and an outside temperature display.
Extras available on the 2014 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 2014 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 SFE can garner an impressive 45 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)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for a base Nissan Cube S with a manual transmission starts right around $17,500. The CVT automatic adds $1,000 to the price tag. Load up a Cube, and you can have quite a bit of substance with your style for around $23,000. At its base price, the Cube is still quite competitive, but it's not the low-cost leader in this niche of rolling boxes. That goes to the Kia Soul, which has a starting price just shy of $15,500. At $19,900, the Fiat 500L costa a bit more, but brings a turbocharged engine to the game. The larger Scion xB, meanwhile, has a base price in line with that of the Cube. Before buying, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are actually paying for the Nissan Cube. Over the long term, the Cube's resale value is expected to hold up very well, though not quite as well as the Scion xB.