You have to wonder what is in the water at Nissan’s headquarters when you first glance at the Juke crossover. This subcompact crossover/hatchback/thing was very polarizing when it first introduced back in 2010. I was one of those people who thought the Juke was an ugly beast and wondered if Nissan was being mind-controlled by aliens. But since then, I have warmed up to the Juke and appreciated that someone was willing to take a chance on a design that stood out. Would this feeling continue if I was to ever to drive a Juke? Well, I can answer this question after spending some time with a 2015 Juke SL AWD.
The Juke’s design is no shrinking violet. The overall shape looks like a design proposal from planet X. Such details as the bug-eye daytime running lights, boomerang taillights, and flared out fenders means you will be the center of attention wherever you drive the Juke. One thing I have to give Nissan credit is giving the Juke the choice of some bold colors. The yellow paint on my tester worked very with the quirkiness of the Juke’s design.
Now being a subcompact crossover, the Juke doesn’t offer much in rear seat space. The rear windows need a sticker that says “break in case of emergency”. You are better served by folding the rear seats to increase rear cargo space from 10.5 to 35.9 cubic feet. Sitting in the front seats, you might feel somewhat cramped due to the high window sill and the low roofline. At least the seats have enough support and bolstering to keep you in place.
For power, the Juke comes with a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. For 2015, you can only get Nissan’s xTronic CVT on the standard Juke. If you want the six-speed manual that was offered for Juke, you’ll need to step up to the Nismo or Nismo RS. Front-wheel drive comes standard, while a torque vectoring all-wheel drive system is optional. The small turbo engine in the Juke is quite a hoot as power comes on early in the rev range and continues towards the middle. This engine is perfectly situated for whenever you want to leave a stoplight in the dust or need to make an avoidance maneuver. The downside is the CVT. It takes some of the fun of playing around with the turbo engine as you can’t fully work with it. Also, the CVT has the tendency to rev high and stay there if you have the Juke in Sport mode, making for a very unpleasant sound to come into the cabin. In terms of fuel economy, the Juke CVT with all-wheel drive is rated by the EPA to get 26 City/31 Highway/28 Combined. My week saw an average of 27 MPG.
As for ride and handling, the Juke shines. The suspension is tuned to provide to keep the vehicle flat while cornering. Steering had a good weight and feel for when you feel like wanting to attack the turns. For day to day driving, the suspension is a little bit too firm when driven over bumpy roads. You’ll feel a good amount of bumps in your seat. There is also a bit of wind and road noise when driven at highway speeds.
The Nissan Juke starts at $20,250 for the base S model and comes equipped with some nice features such as 17-inch alloy wheels, backup camera, keyless entry and push-button start, and Bluetooth. All-wheel drive adds $1,895 to the base price. Our test Juke SL AWD came with everything available on Juke such as a sunroof, navigation, heated leather seats, and Nissan’s around-view camera system. All this comes with an as-tested price of $28,225. That seems a little much for a subcompact crossover considering you can get a well-equipped compact crossover for the same price.
The 2015 Nissan Juke is very much a vehicle that stands out in a crowd. Aside from the shouty design, the way it handles and the zoom of the turbocharged engine can put a smile on anyone’s face. The downsides are a CVT that sucks some of the fun out of the turbo engine and price tag that makes us question whether or not the Juke is worth it.
If making a scene is what you want in a car, then you should take a careful look at the Juke.
Disclaimer: Nissan Provided the Juke, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: SL AWD
Engine: 1.6L DIG Turbocharged Four-Cylinder
Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 188 @ 5,600
Torque @ RPM: 177 @ 1,600 - 5,200
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/31/28
Curb Weight: 3,209 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan
Base Price: $26,940
As Tested Price: $28,225 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
Center Armrest - $250.00
Carpeted Floor Mats & Cargo Mats - $210.00