By KBB.com Editors
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)
By jn on Monday, March 16, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The Juke feels substantial on the road. Comfort is good, noisier than some larger SUV's. Equipment on SL is great-- back up camera is very useful. Sport mode works great in the snow."
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Brian on Sunday, March 15, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "good gas mileage , spirited 4cyl turbo, fun to dri"
Cons: "back seat a little cramped"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought this car July 2014, I never heard of a Juke before I test drove it and fell in love with it. It is a fun spirited car with decent gas mileage . I have had it 8 months so far and I just want to go out and buy a new one with all the bells and whistles. Mine has AWD and came in handy in the winter. I also had the dealer add a sunroof.I like the way it sits up like a SUV I get compliments on it all the time. Pros. Their is lots of headroom for driver and front passenger. Very fun to drive. Cons.back seat is a little cramped. I would highly recommend this vehicle, like I said it is so much fun to drive!!! Its been very reliable so far no problems other than a driverside nozzle for the windshield washer $15.00 part"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Savaliste on Sunday, March 15, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun, small, great price, design, turbo"
Cons: "lighting, back seat space"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I got this Juke when I traded in a jeep wrangler 2 door when I had a baby I need a back seat but I didn't want to go much bigger than a jeep. The juke has a nice little turbo which I love! I don't speed or anything but it helps you go when you need to the most. I love the bucket seats they fit nice and comfortably I'm female 5'9 about 200lbs and the car fits me perfectly.. even my husband he's a little bigger and taller. My daughter fits nicely in the middle in her car seat rear facing but it doesn't fit well behind the seats rear facing you will have to scoot your front seats up too far. So the back seat doesn't have much room when you're trying to fit two teenage boys and a toddler in a car seat. The back doesn't have much lighting at all really I hate that but it's manageable since the car is in fact small. The trunk is a good size I can fit a stroller so that's good they're big. I love the unique sleek design many people do stare and are curious is to what I'm driving. It did have two recalls I got fixed this year no major issues. Only problem I have had with this car is once I left the radio on with car not running and I guess it burned through the battery or confused the smart system since it is a push start car and when I went to start it wouldn't start I had to charge the battery for 20 minutes and it worked fine and normal. I don't run the radio with the car off anymore just in case. I can go about *215 miles on a full tank. Even has a moon roof which I actually don't hardly use."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Patty on Wednesday, February 25, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Peppy, fun to drive, unique looking,front is roomy"
Cons: "turbo engine runs sluggish in very cold weather"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This peppy smaller suv has been fun to drive. I like the looks. I haven't had any problems with the car but it had 2 recall for minor issues. I used regular unleaded gas instead of premium without any problems."
8 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Catmantoo on Friday, February 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling, Appearance, Value"
Cons: "Not really any other than limited interior space."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love this car. I own a 2013 Juke S (the lowest price Juke) and it has everything I need in a car. I love the styling of the vehicle and am always getting complements. I also love the Atomic Gold color that I got, since it is very rare for this vehicle. The only thing better than the styling is how well it runs. It is super solid and very responsive. There really is nothing that I don't like about this car. It may not be for a family, due to space constraints, but there aren't many other vehicles that are as much fun to drive."
15 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By Brandi on Friday, January 30, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "fast, safe, sporty, loud speakers, comfortable,"
Cons: "passenger space,trunk space,gas mileage,lighting"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I just purchased this car 2 months ago. I have a 12 year old and a newborn(still in a rear facing car seat, of course) and a husband. There is no room in the trunk to go on a vacation for a long period of time, unless we pack light. All of my groceries do not fit in the trunk either.. It is a headache most days getting the carrier/carseat in and out of the back seat. This is not a family car. BUT on the other hand.. It is fast, loud, and drives great. I feel like we are pretty safe when I am on the road. The mileage they told me is not what I am getting. They said 32-36 mpg highway, I think I only get 200 miles per full tank.. Which makes me question.. How big is the tank?!?! It is pretty comfortable on long trips. Not enough lighting in the back of the car. Last but not least I LOVE making phone calls from my steering wheel.. :)"
5 people out of 12 found this review helpful