By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 8.4
When it debuted five years ago, the Nissan Juke was ahead of its time – a subcompact- crossover SUV with sporty ambitions and high style that stood out in a sea of larger, blander SUVs. Nowadays the subcompact-crossover SUV segment is booming with fresh arrivals like the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, Chevy Trax, Fiat 500X and the Jeep Renegade. But to its credit, the Juke continues to zig where others zag. Nissan's smallest crossover SUV still looks like nothing else on the road with style you'll love or hate, and it prioritizes sporty performance over passenger- and cargo-carrying utility. The 2016 Juke offers a lot of fun for around $21,000, and is even available in souped-up Nismo RS form that packs 215 horsepower.
If you want a small SUV with zippy performance, wild looks and a price that even a student could afford, put the Juke on your shopping list. The availability of all-wheel drive (AWD) across the line is another plus, as is a manual transmission for driving purists.
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Apple-compatible Siri Eyes Free functionality is now standard, and two new "Stinger Edition by Color Studio" models join the line with even more over-the-top color schemes.
With its standard turbocharged engine, tight suspension and quick steering, Nissan’s Juke feels less like a traditional SUV and more like a zippy hatchback. This all adds up...
... to a crossover SUV that's fun to drive on twisty roads and city streets. It's less suited for miles and miles of highway use, so if you need an Interstate traveler you might opt some something bigger, quieter and less twitchy. Thanks to its small engine and low weight, the Juke gets good fuel economy. Front-wheel-drive (FWD) models use a solid rear axle and have notable torque steer under acceleration, but opt for the torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive (AWD) system and you'll get an independent rear suspension and no torque steer. Juke Nismo and Juke Nismo RS models offer a 6-speed manual transmission and limited-slip differential on FWD models, while top-line Nismo RS models get more power and improved handling.
I-CON (INTEGRATED CONTROL) SYSTEM INTERFACE
The I-CON display, standard on all but base models, allows the driver to toggle functions in an unexpected and impressive way. With the ability to seamlessly switch its button readout, the same display is used for climate control and "D-mode" adaptive throttle settings. It looks pretty cool, too.
INTELLIGENT AWD WITH TORQUE VECTORING
While Nissan's Intelligent All-Wheel Drive is good for enhanced traction in foul weather, it's just as good for improving handling on dry pavement, and should be a must-get for those looking for the ultimate in cornering from their compact SUV.
The 2016 Nissan Juke's 5-passenger interior is nearly as wild as its exterior. The molded plastic center console mimics a motorcycle’s fuel tank, and the multifunction ventilation controls change to become the Sport/Normal/Eco mode with just the push of a button on models with the nifty I-CON system. It's a lot of fun for the driver and front passenger, but rear-seat passengers will be cramped. Instead, fold down those rear seats to expand the paltry 10.5 cubic feet of cargo space to 35.9 cubic feet, more than enough room for several shopping bags. The steering wheel tilts but doesn't telescope.
For better or worse, the 2016 Nissan Juke looks like nothing else on the road. Try to describe it, and you're bound to bring up an animal descriptor. Is it a frog? An insect? Whatever, a lot of people think it's downright cool. The front end is an outrageous affair with streaking headlight housings, while its rear is nipped and tucked. From the side, the roofline squats as it moves rearward, accented by color-keyed, integrated rear-door handles that give the 5-door Juke a coupe-like appearance. Nismo variants can sport an aerodynamic body kit, while top-line RS versions boast red brake calipers.
The 2016 Nissan Juke is available in five trims: S, SV, SL, Nismo and Nismo RS. The least expensive Juke S still comes nicely equipped with push-button start, rearview camera, AM/FM/CD/USB audio system with 5-inch color display and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, Siri Eyes Free compatibility, continuously variable transmission (CVT) and expected amenities like air conditioning and power windows. For roughly $2,000 more, we recommend the Nissan Juke SV trim, which adds the nifty I-CON climate/drive-setting controls, power moonroof, premium cloth seating, rear privacy glass, leather-wrapped steering wheel and automatic climate control.
Climbing to the SL trim adds leather seating, larger 5.8-inch display with navigation and voice recognition, a pounding Rockford Fosgate audio system, heated front seats, automatic headlights and Nissan's impressive AroundView bird's-eye rearview monitor. The Juke Nismo gets sport tuning for better handling, 18-inch wheels, a unique front grille and synthetic suede seat trim, while the top-line Juke Nismo RS packs a more powerful engine, Recaro front bucket seats and Nismo-specific exhaust and brakes. Cold Weather and Tech packages are available for SV models. The "Color Studio" program for SV variants allows the choice of vibrant color schemes.
Two engines are available for the 2016 Nissan Juke. The standard-issue engine is a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 188 horsepower; it's in all Juke models except the Nismo RS. The top-line Juke Nismo RS gets a more powerful version of the same engine, offering 215 horsepower with the manual transmission and front-wheel drive (FWD), or 211 with the automatic transmission and all-wheel drive (AWD). In standard Jukes, the CVT automatic includes an S-mode that serves up six "virtual" gears, simulating gear changes; seven in the Juke Nismo, and eight in the Juke RS. The Juke is quite fuel-efficient, but Nissan recommends feeding it pricier premium unleaded gasoline.
1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
188 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-5,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/32 mpg (FWD, automatic), 26/31 mpg (AWD, automatic)
1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Nismo RS)
215 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (FWD, manual)
211 horsepower @ 2,000 (AWD, automatic)
210 lb-ft of torque @ 3,600-4,800 rpm (FWD, manual)
184 lb-ft of torque @ 2,400-6,000 rpm (AWD, automatic)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/31 mpg (FWD, manual), 25/29 mpg (AWD, automatic)
The 2016 Nissan Juke has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $21,000, a tempting price for a spry, turbocharged crossover SUV with egregious style. That climbs to around $31,000 for an AWD Juke RS. Newer rivals such as the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Chevy Trax and Fiat 500X are in line with the Juke, while a bare-bones Jeep Renegade undercuts the Nissan, and the more premium Mini Countryman starts around $2,500 more. The Kia Soul is another great alternative that has stylish looks, more space and a starting price $4,000 less than the Juke. The larger Subaru Crosstrek starts slightly higher but packs more room and versatility. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their Juke. The Nissan Juke's residual value is expected to be quite strong, and its 5-Year Cost to Own figure lower than most.