By Bob Nagy
KBB Expert Rating: 7.0
Every now and again, an automobile company will create something never before seen, taking the risk that their invention will go down in history as either a modern classic or an utter disaster. It takes guts to build a car like the 2012 Nissan Juke, a radical little crossover that is part CUV, part sports car and part ultramodern rolling art. Actually, creating a radical-looking car isn't all that hard. But, making one that is also highly functional, fast and affordable, well that's a really neat trick. The 5-door Nissan Juke has all the attributes of small wagon, with a big rear hatch, folding rear seats and level cargo floor. But, the 2012 Nissan Juke also has a turbocharged engine with variable throttle settings and an enthusiast-oriented sport suspension that allows it to behave far more radically than a Honda CR-V or Hyundai Tucson. Filled with cool visual design elements, the Juke definitely has a youthful audience as its target market, but as Nissan has learned from the Juke's unexpectedly brisk sales, people of all ages who appreciate clever design are drawn to this car. With prices ranging from around $20,000 to $27,000 fully loaded, the 2012 Nissan Juke fits easily into most budgets, which makes it even easier to fit one into most driveways.
If you're looking for a vehicle that performs like a racy little coupe, can tackle snow and dirt trails when asked and starts around $20K, the 2012 Nissan Juke CUV has you covered. The Juke's off-beat good looks and long list of electronic audio and communications options should help seal the deal.
Beyond its unconventional styling, the 2012 Nissan Juke crossover may not hold much appeal to those who require a big back seat and copious cargo space. If you want something stylish, fuel efficient and roomy, the Kia Sportage makes an excellent alternative, as does the MINI Cooper Countryman.
Fresh from its debut last year, Nissan has made no changes to the 2012 Juke crossover.
Driving Impressions Drawing its highly regarded B-platform that spawned the Cube Wagon and LEAF electric vehicle, Nissan once again makes the most of its engineering ingenuity by delivering a compact crossover that...performs like a low-slung pocket rocket. The 2012 Nissan Juke crossover's taut suspension is adept in minimizing body roll and lean, with only a minimal trade-off in the areas of ride comfort. The electric assist power steering feels pretty spot on, although we'd still prefer a hydraulic setup in a car like this. The Juke's big standard wheels and tires combined with its wide front and rear track also aid in stability, but those same tires do create a fair bit of road noise, which is too easily transmitted into the Juke's cabin area. When equipped with Nissan's "intelligent" all-wheel-drive package, the Juke gains a torque-vectoring setup and a CVT transmission usually found only in much more expensive vehicles. The system is able to route power front to rear as well as side to side at the rear axle. AWD Jukes also ditch the base car's torsion beam rear axle in favor of more desirable independent rear suspension. The Nissan Juke's raised driving position, oversized side mirrors and good driver sightlines make it easy to maneuver in all but the tightest confines, while the impressive list of standard safety and stability-control programs add an extra piece of mind.
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.
If you're into cutting-edge interior styling, the 2012 Nissan Juke crossover is the poster child for the compact CUV segment. From its molded plastic center console that mimics a motorcycle's fuel tank to the multifunction ventilation controls that, with a push of a button, change to become the Sport/Normal/Eco mode throttle controls, the Juke's interior is a visual smorgasbord. Soft-touch materials are present where needed, although the lack of a center armrest is a serious oversight. The thick-rimmed 3-spoke steering wheel not only feels great in your hands, it is packed with redundant controls for the audio, cruise and Bluetooth system. The Juke's firm front bucket seats offer good lower back and thigh support, and look particularly inviting when covered in leather. And, while rear-seat accommodations are a bit snug, two adults can fit back there if the front seats are not fully retracted. Don't look for much in the way of cargo space because with only 10.5 cubic feet, there isn't much. Of course, if the ride includes just you and one other person, the 60/40 split-folding rear seats can be laid flat to create 35 cubic feet of space, more than enough to fit all of your toys. Our one gripe with the Juke's layout pertains to the USB port at the front of the center console. When connected, an iPod or similar device sits on a shallow-edge shelf where it can easily slide off during a sharp turn and is clearly visible to prying eyes. The glove box would be a more suitable spot.
The 2012 Nissan Juke crossover is a vehicle you either instantly fall in love with or run screaming from as fast as you can. From its big-eyed bumper-mounted headlights to the elongate clear plastic turn-signal/parking lights that run the length of the fender tops, the Juke appears otherworldly. Move to the side, and a roofline that squats low as it moves rearward is accented by color-keyed integrated rear door handles giving the 5-door Juke a coupe-like appearance. If there is one unoriginal portion to the 2012 Juke, it's the rear tail lenses that bear more than a passing resemblance to the taillights of the Volvo XC60 and Ford Focus. A single-piece hatch with electronic release opens to reveal the Juke's rather tiny cargo hold. In a nod to fans of large wheels, Nissan equips all three trims (S, SL, and SV) with 17-inch alloy wheels and V-rated all-season tires.
Every 2012 Nissan Juke crossover 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 CVT automatic transmission plus power windows/lock/mirrors, air conditioning, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 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, the 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, foglights, 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 2012 Juke S crossover buyers consists of front- or all-wheel drive. At SV level, that list expands to include swapping its standard 6-speed manual transmission for the CVT and adding the Navigation Package that brings an SD-card based navi 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 6MT/CVT transmissions.
All versions of the 2012 Nissan Juke CUV are fitted with the automaker's new 1.6-liter "DIG" (Direct Injection Gasoline) inline 4-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 automatic (which includes S-mode that serves up six "virtual" gears) and the 6-speed manual gearbox, and can comfortably handle the added weight of the all-wheel-drive (AWD) 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 to that baseline figure.
1.6-liter turbocharged/intercooled in-line 4
188 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-5,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/31 mpg (FWD, manual), 27/32 mpg (FWD, CVT), 25/30 mpg (AWD, CVT)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on the 2012 Nissan Juke crossover starts around $21,000 for an entry-level "S" model with the SV beginning closer to $22,000 and the top-line Juke SL opening right around $24,000. A CVT in the SV/SL adds another $500, the SV-only Navigation Package commands $800 and all-wheel drive on any trim level bumps the bottom line by $1,500. To make your best deal, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price at kbb.com that shows the typical transaction price paid for the Juke in your area. While more conventional, but less-powerful and in many cases less well-equipped rivals like the Kia Soul Sport, Scion xB, Suzuki SX4 Sportback, Toyota Matrix XRS Sport and Mazda3 – or even Nissan's own Cube – can be had for less, only the pricier Mazdaspeed3 comes close to rivaling the performance of any Juke variant. The Juke's distinctive exterior styling remains a bit of a long-term wild card here, but historically Nissan vehicles have done a reasonable job of holding their comparative value over time. We suspect the SV will fare best in that particular arena.
By highway honey (TN) on Wednesday, November 20, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, great acceleration, awesome stereo"
Cons: "2nd cupholder in console under armrest."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Went from a Camry to this car because I needed something sportier and able to fit in my small garage of my new house. Love the looks. All the comments I've read says it doesn't have an arm rest, but it DOES! It's just narrow. The only con I have is that the second cup holder in console is hidden by the armrest. Love the push button ignition and the keyless entry. The back-up monitor is so cool because it shows incriments of 5 feet away from an object. This car is awesome!"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By nugget (FL) on Wednesday, October 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,856overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "stylish with lots of upgrade options"
Cons: "see my complete review for details"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I bought my 2013 Juke SL loaded in Oct 2012, so I have had it for a year, and I am not all that happy with it. It has style, I will give Nissan that, but interior design has some issues. No arm rest in the middle, which I know you can buy after but you'd give up what little center console space you have. The arm rests on the door are fabric with tiny holes so every time you or your passenger opens the door, it sloughs off any dry skin you may have. It looks dull and faded compared to the rest of the black leather interior. I feel like I am getting DNA samples. I am very neat and clean, no kids, and this bugs me for the $27K I spent. You can't put down the backseat on the passenger side without taking the headrest off so it clears the front seat even with the front being moved forward a little. If your short and have to move the seat up a little (which is a pump not electric even though I have every option available), good luck trying to wedge your hand between the door arm rest and your seat. Gas mileage - avg 26 mpg, not great considering I drove a V6 Ford Escape that got that and was more functional."
12 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Docmac (WA) on Sunday, September 29, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "On-Off AWD. Game changing decision over Subaru"
Cons: "No ash tray, poor stock tires/driving lights"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I read all the reviews prior to purchase, and agree with most: Fuel capacity: Too small of a fuel cell, needs at least a 15 gallon tank. MPG (SL,AWD) about 23-28. No big road test yet, and this with premium fuel. I expected a bit better. No ash tray. We are non-smokers, but the change holder is missing. Buy: The plastic 3M bra for it, Weather tech floor liners, swap out driving lights. The stock driving lights are useless. The steering is very light. Almost too good. You do not have a "feel" for the road. Not complaining, it's just different. Goodyear stock tires are okay at best. This car on stock tires WILL hydroplane. Tried it, and this car will float. I figured with AWD it would be heavy enough at 55 MPH, nope. Get better tires for it ASAP. Lastly I would recommend those plastic sheet covers (like for cell phones) that prevent scratching of the touch screen. Nissan should have done this I feel. We got the all-bells and whistles model, every option, and it has a manual drivers seat. This car is electric everything, but a seat. Nissan needs to correct that. Driving is fun, it is what it is, turbo 1.6. It is not a 370Z, it is a 4WD Sentra that looks like a frog. The wife likes it, and that's what counts."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By trishlovesjukie (PA) on Saturday, September 14, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "awd gas mileage fun to drive"
Cons: "poor quality carpet"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Ive had my car about 5 months now...am a visiting nurse and spend a lot of time in the car. I love this car!! Its zippy..fun to drive and I feel safe. I haven't had to tackle the pa winter roads yet but im expecting it to be fine. I have the awd option and don't plan on calling off! I was looking for a small suv that's sporty and I found one!"
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By JC16 (VA) on Friday, August 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 271overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Price, Awesome functions, Gas mileage, Fun t"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I had two RAV4s, one pilot, one highlander, one focus and one benz. This time around, I wanted something smaller, fuel efficient, AND AWD. I wasn't even considering Juke at first, but someone mentioned it and I looked it up. It looked funky, but I liked MPG... So I went to the car dealership. I test drove it and FELL IN LOVE WITH IT. It's small, but has turbo engine. It got an awesome kick to it. I bought SL AWD full op. It has everything I ever need. It's such a fun car to drive. Usually I put it on ECO mode and drive around. So far I've been having 30 MPG local which is GREAT. Everyone compliments my car and wants to drive it whenever they can lol. Handling is awesome, GPA is so easy to use, THEIR SPEAK SYSTEM IS SO UNREAL. Cargo is small, but I knew it when I bought it and didn't care much for it. Backseat was more roomy than I thought. It's very comfortable to drive :)"
19 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By topdunn (AL) on Tuesday, August 27, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,750overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfort features, stereo, crazy fun, distictinve"
Cons: "poor lighting inside, no a2dp, terrible voice comm"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car is more fun than I deserve. So cool. Everything about it suits a commuter like me lookig for a fun comfortable distinctive ride. It has 2 minor issues 1)Bluetooth Voice dial is awful and it wont bluetooth stream from my ipod/phone 2)Its interior lighting is pretty bad. All things considered, if thats all Nissan missed, its pretty much a home run. Great car."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful