By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.7
Intent on expanding its presence in the increasingly popular compact crossover market with a vehicle that stands out from an admittedly formidable pack, Nissan created the new 2011 Juke. While over-the-top exterior styling is the most blatant tipoff to its unconventional approach, this versatile five-door hauler also packs a potent turbocharged engine and enthusiast-oriented suspension that are impressively complemented by a megaload of primo features. As its final ace in the hole, Nissan's bold attempt to win the hearts – and wallets – of young and primarily male active lifestylers, opens at a sub-$20,000 price point. In the case of the entry-level front-drive Juke S, that figure includes a standard Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Even the range-topping leather-lined and fully loaded all-wheel-drive Juke SL barely cracks the $25K mark.
Love being the center of attention and hate misplacing your ride in a crowded parking lot? The 2011 Nissan Juke could well be your personal dream machine. It's also destined to score big with anyone seeking a high-content transport module that delivers a world-class combination of fun and affordability.
Those who lean towards more traditional styling or would prefer to sacrifice a bit of performance for an added measure of economy could well find a more compatible runningmate in Juke alternatives like the Kia Soul, Mazda3, Scion xB, Suzuki SX4 and Toyota Matrix. The upcoming MINI Cooper Countryman also figures to be a prime potential rival.
The 2011 Nissan Juke's in-your-face combination of avant-garde styling, high-intensity powertrain and a sport-tuned suspension coupled with its very attractive price-to-packaging ratio add unexpected dimension – and desirability – to what, at its core, remains an extremely practical compact crossover.
Driving Impressions Based on a modified version of Nissan's highly-respected B-platform that also underpins the Cube and LEAF models, the 2011 Nissan Juke is an exercise in confident control. Although some may...rightfully ding the ride for being a tad harsh over rough pavement, body roll is impressively curtailed and its decently-sorted electric power steering, wider front/rear track dimensions and healthy wheel/tire fitment help ensure the Juke feel equally at home whether zipping through the twisties or cruising down a freeway. Opting for the sophisticated "intelligent" all-wheel drive package that includes class-exclusive rear torque-vectoring capability also trades the base torsion-beam rear axle for a multi-link design that further enhances the Juke's already impressive cornering prowess. However, stability/traction control and antilock disc brakes are standard across the lineup. Finally, its slightly elevated driving position, generously proportioned side mirrors and good driver sightlines make the Juke easy to maneuver in all but the tightest confines.
I-CON (Advanced-Integrated Control) system interface
Standard on the Juke SV and SL, Nissan's slick I-CON interface/display toggles between "Climate" and "D-mode," each with its own specific graphics. In the former, I-CON commands all heat/air functions while the latter features Normal/Sport/Eco settings that appropriately revise the electronic mapping for throttle response, transmission shifts and steering feel.
Intelligent AWD with Torque Vectoring
Available on all three Juke trim levels, Nissan's Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system can create up to a 50/50 front/rear power split and also distribute torque from side to side on the rear axle to improve handling and reduce understeer when cornering.
Despite a dearth of soft-touch secondary surfaces, the 2011 Nissan Juke's relatively spacious and well-finished cabin is loaded with visual flair and welcome functionality. A thick-rimmed three-spoke multifunction steering wheel and well-bolstered front buckets team well with its driver-friendly dash layout and legible main gauge cluster. The high-rise center console design ideally positions the Juke's shift lever and is contoured like a motorcycle gas tank to serve as an effective leg support. Scaled to accommodate average-sized adults, the 60/40 rear seat folds flat to bump cargo space from 10.5 to 35.9 cubic feet. Front-drive models also offer a hidden stow space under the cargo floor.Exterior
A blatant love-it-or-hate-it proposition, the Juke's sheetmetal defiantly blazes a visual trail where other competitors arguably – and perhaps prudently – fear to tread. Up front, prominent low-mount headlamps and bulgy running/marker units that sit atop boldly arched fenders give it a decidedly not-of-this-world face. In profile, the Juke's muscular side contouring, fall-away roofline and wedge-shaped greenhouse create a genuinely interesting look that resolves into a Murano-meets-Volvo C30 tail treatment capped with a decently sized single-piece hatch. Rounding out the mix on all three Juke trim levels (S/SL/SV) are 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 215/55 V-rated all-season tires.
Every 2011 Nissan Juke variant comes packed with desirable features. Beyond first-rate powertrain/suspension/vehicle dynamics elements shared with its SV/SL kin, even the base "S-spec" nets Nissan's Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) plus power windows/lock/mirrors, air conditioning, six-speaker audio, iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, cruise control, keyless remote entry, a multifunction steering wheel, trip computer, vehicle security/immobilizer systems and front/front-side/side-curtain airbags. The SV adds premium upholstery cloth, a power moonroof, automatic climate control, I-CON multifunction controller, subscription-based XM Satellite Radio, a USB port and privacy glass, while SL trim includes the Navigation Package, leather upholstery, heated front seats, the RearView Monitor system, fog lamps, and auto on/off headlights.
Nissan's decision to develop three definitive variations on the Juke theme keeps the formal extras list on each to a minimum. The sole choice for Juke S buyers consists of front-drive or all-wheel drive. At SV level, that list expands to include swapping its standard six-speed manual transmission for the CVT and adding the Navigation Package that brings an SD card-based navigation system with 5.0-inch color LCD screen, a speaker upgrade with Rockford Fosgate subwoofers and USB connectivity. The fully-loaded SL limits its configuration alternatives to front/AWD and/or 6M/CVT transmissions.
All versions of the 2011 Nissan Juke are fitted with the automaker's new 1.6-liter "DIG" (Direct Injection Gasoline) in-line four-cylinder that boasts the holy trinity of modern engine tech – direct fuel injection, turbocharging/intercooling and variable camshaft timing (here on both the intake and exhaust side) to deliver an impressive mix of performance and economy. Generating a stout 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque from 2,000-5,200 revs, it matches well with the CVT (which includes S-mode that serves up six "virtual" gears) and the six-speed manual gearbox, and can comfortably handle the added weight of the all-wheel-drive system. A manual-equipped front-drive Juke can sprint to 60 mph in around seven seconds, while the CVT and AWD each add about a half tick each to that baseline figure.
1.6-liter turbocharged/intercooled in-line four
188 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @ 2000-5200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/31 mpg (FWD manual), 27/32 mpg (FWD CVT), 25/30 mpg (AWD CVT)
By Nick on Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, Good MPG, sound system, storage"
Cons: "nav screen hard to read"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought this as a change from my jeep wrangler (that I still miss, dearly) but this is a great car. I have the AWD and get between 26 and 31mpg depending on the driving conditions. Speaking of driving conditions, the sport mode is quite handy for maneuvering through traffic."
13 people out of 26 found this review helpful
By FROGGI on Monday, July 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "YOU FEEL LIKE DIVING A RACING CAR IN A SUV"
Cons: "BACK CABIN NEEDS A BIT MORE SPACE"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I JUST PURCHASED THIS CAR AND I AM IN LOVE OF IT. THE PERFORMANCE IS AMAZING AND SPEED IS AWESOME. I LIKE THE IDEA THAT YOU CAN CHOSE THE WAY YOU WANT YOU CAR TO RESPOND TO YOUR DRIVE. YOU CAN CHOOSE A NORMAL DRIVE, SPORT DRIVE LIKE A RACING CAR OR ECO MODE FOR SAVING MORE GAS IN THE CITY. GPS IS TOUCH SCREEN AND VERY FAST AND RESPONSIVE. PASSENGERS ROOM IN THE BACK IS NOT AS BIG AS I WOULD WISH BUT IT IS CONFORTABLE FOR PEOPLE I WOULD SAY LESS THAT 6'. AT THE DEALER WERE VERY FRIENDLY. YOU WONT REGRET BUYING A CAR LIKE THIS IF U ARE LOOKING FOR A GOOD PERFORMANCE AND YOU WOULD LIKE TO VARY YOU DRIVE AND THE GOOD THING. YOU CAN MANAGE THE CAR INSTEAD OF THE CAR MANAGING YOU. HEHE"
15 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By UnityYogi on Friday, June 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "sporty, fun, quick--NICE exterior"
Cons: "too tight, head rest/shoulder belt bad"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Traded a Nissan Murano for the Juke after falling in love with it at the state fair. However, interior wise--it could be uncomfortable to drive on road trips, really cramped. The head rest and seat belts just didn't provide enough comfort. Most troubling and why I'm really trading it in, is that tt has a horrible blind spot, passenger rear. It's a fun car though, really sporty and I think probably more for those who don't drive alot or a younger group."
15 people out of 26 found this review helpful
By Poo on Tuesday, June 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Had trouble with this vehicle after I had owned it 1 year. Started having problems and after 3 years; turbo goes out and costs me a pile of money. Would not recommend a Nissan Juke!"
5 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Antecoco on Saturday, June 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "sport looks nice, rides smooth, singles only."
Cons: "NOT comfort in the back seat ."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Looks and Rides well, designed for single or couple only, comfortable driver seat, back seats no room, very uncomfortable when open the door, and I am 5.1!!!, taller people have a hard time, A/C very noisy, good only for the front, passenger seated in the back cook themselves, love the red color, but It is not for Petite people, I am 5'2" had a Subaru Forester for 11 years, Love it, but want to try a Nissan, the dealer customer service is excellent, and i bought it. Big mistake. I have a 54 lbs dog,no room for her at all."
9 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By raywells on Thursday, May 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 350overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "handles great - expecially in bad weather"
Cons: "may be too small for some"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"While it may not be the car for someone who needs a large backseat or cargo space, it's absolutely perfect for me. It has plenty of pick-up, good turning radius and AWD options. My husband and I took it up north during a snow storm and,while other cars were stuck on the hills, our little JUKE just kept on going. It's the most fun-to-drive car I've ever had."
19 people out of 31 found this review helpful