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William Maley

Review: 2015 Nissan Juke SL AWD

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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.

 


2015 Nissan Juke SL AWD 11


The interior doesn’t continue the Juke’s exuberant exterior aside from the motorcycle gas tank where the transmission selector is located. That’s ok because I would feel Nissan would be going a bit too far in terms of design. Instead, Nissan stuck with a simple interior layout with a smooth dashboard and a large center stack. There is a pleasant mix of soft-touch plastics and red trim pieces that give Juke a personality. Standard on the SL was a five-inch touchscreen with NissanConnect. The screen is slightly small to read quickly at a glance. But I will give Nissan some credit for making the system easy to navigate around. Underneath is a simple climate control system with a color screen. But if you press the D-Mode button right above the climate control system, it changes the system into a control panel to choose different driving modes and providing trip computer information. It is a clever solution to providing key information and changing the behavior of how the Juke drives.

 

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.

 


2015 Nissan Juke SL AWD 8


 

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

 

 

Year: 2015
Make: Nissan
Model: Juke
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)

 

Options:
Center Armrest - $250.00
Carpeted Floor Mats & Cargo Mats - $210.00


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      Horsepower @ RPM: 187 @ 6,000
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      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/30/26
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    • By William Maley
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      The Grand Touring tester featured power adjustments for both front seats. The seats will feel a bit too firm for some passengers, but I found them to be just right. It would have been awesome if Mazda provided ventilation for the front seats to bolster their premium ambitions. The CX-5’s back seat offers a decent amount of headroom for those under six-feet. Legroom is somewhat lacking when put against the competition. I found that my knees were almost touching the back side of the front seat. Cargo space is right in the middle with 30.9 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 59.6 when folded.
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      A seven-inch touchscreen featuring the Mazda Connect infotainment system and a rotary knob controller is standard on all CX-5s. Grand Touring models get navigation as standard, while the Touring gets it as an option. Mazda Connect is a mixed bag. The interface is beginning to look somewhat old due to the use of dark colors and a dull screen. Also, trying to figure out which parts of the system are touch-enabled becomes quite tedious as there is no way to tell except through trial and error. There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility, but I’m hoping the 2019 model will get it.
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      The EPA says the 2018 Mazda CX-5 AWD will return 24 City/30 Highway/26 Combined, while the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan AWD returns 21 City/27 Highway/23 Combined. Both models returned high fuel economy averages; the CX-5 return 28.5 while the Tiguan got 27.3 mpg during my week-long test. Both models were driven on mix of 60 percent city and 40 percent highway.
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      Value
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      The script flips however when you put the 2018 CX-5 Grand Touring under the microscope. The AWD version begins at $30,945 and with a few options such as the Soul Red paint and Premium package, the vehicle seen here comes to $34,685. But you can get into the Tiguan SEL AWD that adds adaptive cruise control, power liftgate, and navigation for only $2,295 less than our as-tested CX-5. While the CX-5 does offer more of a premium interior, the larger interior and slightly better infotainment system give the Tiguan a slight edge.
      Verdict
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      Disclaimer: Mazda and Volkswagen Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Mazda
      Model: CX-5
      Trim: Grand Touring AWD
      Engine: 2.5L DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 187 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 186 @4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/30/26
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
      Base Price: $30,945
      As Tested Price: $34,685 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Package - $1,395.00
      Soul Red Crystal Paint - $595.00
      Illuminated Door Sill Plates - $400.00
      Retractable Cover Cover - $250.00
      Rear Bumper Guard - $125.00
      Year: 2018
      Make: Volkswagen
      Model: Tiguan
      Trim: SE 4Motion
      Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged 16-Valve DOHC TSI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 4,400
      Torque @ RPM: 221 @ 1,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/27/23
      Curb Weight: 3,858 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Puebla, Mexico
      Base Price: $30,230
      As Tested Price: $31,575 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Habanero Orange Metallic - $295.00
      Front Fog Lights - $150.00
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      Toyota has installed the latest version of their Entune infotainment system in the 2018 Camry. The new version comes with an updated look that retains the ease of use that we have liked on the older systems. Performance is about average for the class as it takes only a few milliseconds to get to the various functions. I do like the array of physical buttons that provide an easy way to move around the system. There is still no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. But considering the 2019 Avalon does have Apple CarPlay, we hope the Camry will get it as well.
      XSE models get a heads-up display as standard. However, I found the display to be more of a hindrance as the image was blurry. I think this is a problem with Toyota as I experienced the same issue in the LC 500 coupe I drove late last year.
      For its polarizing character, you might be expecting the Camry XSE to have either a turbo-four or V6 under the hood. While a 3.5L V6 is available, this XSE featured the standard 2.5L four-cylinder engine producing 206 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. It was a bit disappointing to find this engine under the hood considering the vehicle’s character. Around town, the Camry doesn’t feel as fast as the Hyundai Sonata due to most of the power being available only at higher rpms. On the highway or needing to make a pass, the four-cylinder comes alive with enough shove to get you moving at a decent clip. Disappointingly, Toyota forgot to quiet down the engine during acceleration as there is a fair amount of buzz coming inside the cabin. But the engine quiets down to a murmur when cruising. The new eight-speed transmission pairs well with the engine, delivering unobtrusive and quick shifts.
      Fuel economy figures for the 2.5 are 28 City/39 Highway/32 Combined. My average for the week landed around 32.6 mpg in mixed driving.
      The Camry is the latest Toyota model to move on to the TGNA modular platform and it makes the model somewhat fun to pilot. On a curvy stretch of road, the XSE feels well-mannered as there isn’t excessive body motion and the steering proving a direct and well-weighted feel. Despite its sporting nature, the XSE’s ride is well-controlled with only a few bumps making their way inside. One disappointment is the large amount road and wind noise that comes inside when driving on the freeway. 
      The Camry XSE sits as the flagship trim with a starting price of $29,150 for the four-cylinder and $35,100 for the V6. With a number of options, the as-tested price of this XSE comes to $35,333. That is quite the poor value considering for a few hundred dollars more, you can get into a loaded an Accord Touring complete with a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder producing 252 horsepower. For a couple thousand dollars less, the Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T and Kia Optima SX offer similar driving dynamics and more luxury touches.
      Toyota knew it had to take a big gamble with the new Camry considering the growing demand for crossovers. In certain respects, Toyota has done it. The Camry is not a wallflower in terms of its looks and handling. Additionally, the interior blends a distinctive design with ease of use. But there are some problems that put the Camry in a tough spot. The four-cylinder engine needs a bit more low-end punch for around-town driving. Some more sound deadening would go a long way in making the Camry a good long-distance cruiser. The biggest issue is the value argument as other sedans offer much more equipment for similar or less money than the Camry. Toyota is likely banking on the name equity of model to justify the higher price. This would be ok if we weren’t in a time where more and more buyers are moving to crossovers and utility vehicles. The 2018 Toyota Camry is a much better car from the one it replaces, but the high price tag may be its downfall.
      Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Camry, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Camry
      Trim: XSE
      Engine: 2.5L Twin-Cam, 16-Valve Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 206 @ 6,600
      Torque @ RPM: 186 @ 5,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/39/32
      Curb Weight: 3,395 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, KY
      Base Price: $29,000
      As Tested Price: $35,355 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Audio Package - $1,800.00
      Driver Assist Package - $1,675.00
      Panoramic Sunroof - $1,045.00
      Special Color - $395.00
      Illuminated Door Sill Enhancements - $299.00
      Carpet/Trunk Mat Set - $224.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Many automotive journalists have been flummoxed by the popularity of the Toyota Camry. The model trails the pack in a number of key areas such as design, handling, and performance. But I know the reason why the Camry is beloved by many; it is a no hassle midsize sedan that will go the distance. 
      But there is a change that endangers many midsize sedans. Buyers who previously brought sedans are now trending towards crossovers and SUVs as they offer a number of traits such as a higher ride height and a large area for people and stuff. Automakers find themselves in a difficult spot as to whether they should drop their sedans to focus on utility vehicles, or put more effort into making them more appealing. Toyota has chosen the latter option with the 2018 Camry. Let’s see if they made the right call.
      Previous Camrys have tended to play it safe with their exterior designs. The new model drops the safe attitude and goes for something very extroverted. For the XSE, this includes a different front end with a smaller lower grille and large cutouts in the bumper. The side profile shows off a pronounced character line and a set of 19-inch machined-finish alloy wheels. Move the back to find a faux diffuser and a set of quad tailpipes. I actually prefer the look of the XSE to the other Camry models as it loses out on the gaping maw that is the lower grille.
      Compared to the jumbled-together look of the previous Camry’s interior, the new model features a flowing and modern design. The unique shape of the center stack and contrasting trim pieces for the passenger really help the model stand out. Controls are laid out in a very logical fashion and have easy-to-read text. Material quality is very impressive with exposed stitching, metal trim, and a lot of soft-touch plastic. 
      The XSE features leather seats with eight-way power adjustments for driver and passenger. I found the seats to be on the firm side and provide decent support on short trips. But on longer trips, my lower back started to ache. I couldn’t tell if I design of the seat just didn’t work with my back or if I had too much lumbar. On paper, the Camry has the smallest amount of rear legroom. But in reality, I found that I had more than enough to feel comfortable. Taller passengers will need to duck as headroom is quite tight due to the optional sunroof.
      Toyota has installed the latest version of their Entune infotainment system in the 2018 Camry. The new version comes with an updated look that retains the ease of use that we have liked on the older systems. Performance is about average for the class as it takes only a few milliseconds to get to the various functions. I do like the array of physical buttons that provide an easy way to move around the system. There is still no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. But considering the 2019 Avalon does have Apple CarPlay, we hope the Camry will get it as well.
      XSE models get a heads-up display as standard. However, I found the display to be more of a hindrance as the image was blurry. I think this is a problem with Toyota as I experienced the same issue in the LC 500 coupe I drove late last year.
      For its polarizing character, you might be expecting the Camry XSE to have either a turbo-four or V6 under the hood. While a 3.5L V6 is available, this XSE featured the standard 2.5L four-cylinder engine producing 206 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. It was a bit disappointing to find this engine under the hood considering the vehicle’s character. Around town, the Camry doesn’t feel as fast as the Hyundai Sonata due to most of the power being available only at higher rpms. On the highway or needing to make a pass, the four-cylinder comes alive with enough shove to get you moving at a decent clip. Disappointingly, Toyota forgot to quiet down the engine during acceleration as there is a fair amount of buzz coming inside the cabin. But the engine quiets down to a murmur when cruising. The new eight-speed transmission pairs well with the engine, delivering unobtrusive and quick shifts.
      Fuel economy figures for the 2.5 are 28 City/39 Highway/32 Combined. My average for the week landed around 32.6 mpg in mixed driving.
      The Camry is the latest Toyota model to move on to the TGNA modular platform and it makes the model somewhat fun to pilot. On a curvy stretch of road, the XSE feels well-mannered as there isn’t excessive body motion and the steering proving a direct and well-weighted feel. Despite its sporting nature, the XSE’s ride is well-controlled with only a few bumps making their way inside. One disappointment is the large amount road and wind noise that comes inside when driving on the freeway. 
      The Camry XSE sits as the flagship trim with a starting price of $29,150 for the four-cylinder and $35,100 for the V6. With a number of options, the as-tested price of this XSE comes to $35,333. That is quite the poor value considering for a few hundred dollars more, you can get into a loaded an Accord Touring complete with a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder producing 252 horsepower. For a couple thousand dollars less, the Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T and Kia Optima SX offer similar driving dynamics and more luxury touches.
      Toyota knew it had to take a big gamble with the new Camry considering the growing demand for crossovers. In certain respects, Toyota has done it. The Camry is not a wallflower in terms of its looks and handling. Additionally, the interior blends a distinctive design with ease of use. But there are some problems that put the Camry in a tough spot. The four-cylinder engine needs a bit more low-end punch for around-town driving. Some more sound deadening would go a long way in making the Camry a good long-distance cruiser. The biggest issue is the value argument as other sedans offer much more equipment for similar or less money than the Camry. Toyota is likely banking on the name equity of model to justify the higher price. This would be ok if we weren’t in a time where more and more buyers are moving to crossovers and utility vehicles. The 2018 Toyota Camry is a much better car from the one it replaces, but the high price tag may be its downfall.
      Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Camry, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Camry
      Trim: XSE
      Engine: 2.5L Twin-Cam, 16-Valve Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 206 @ 6,600
      Torque @ RPM: 186 @ 5,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/39/32
      Curb Weight: 3,395 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, KY
      Base Price: $29,000
      As Tested Price: $35,355 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Audio Package - $1,800.00
      Driver Assist Package - $1,675.00
      Panoramic Sunroof - $1,045.00
      Special Color - $395.00
      Illuminated Door Sill Enhancements - $299.00
      Carpet/Trunk Mat Set - $224.00
    • By William Maley
      “Despite the positives, the Ioniq finds itself between a rock and hard place.”
      That was how I closed my review of the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq SEL earlier this year. Despite me finding a lot to like about this hybrid, I found myself struggling as determining whether it was better or worse than the Toyota Prius. A few weeks ago, another Ioniq arrived in my driveway for a weeklong evaluation. This particular variant is the base Blue model, which is positioned as the mileage champ in the Ioniq lineup. Maybe this model could sway me in one direction or the other.
      EPA figures stand at 57 City/59 Highway/58 Combined, up 2/5/3 when compared to the Ioniq SEL I drove last year. My average for the week was an impressive 62 mpg - a huge increase over the 45 mpg in the last Ioniq I drove. Why the massive difference in average fuel economy? It comes down to the weather. The Blue was driven in a week where the average temperature was around 80 degrees, whereas the SEL was driven in conditions where it was below freezing. The warmer temps allowed the vehicle to rely more on electric power only. I would estimate that 30 to 40 percent of the miles driven in the Ioniq was just on electric only. The powertrain is unchanged in the Blue. There’s a 1.6L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder engine, a 32 kW electric motor, and a Lithium-ion Polymer battery that produces a total output of 139 horsepower. This is paired with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. I had no issues with keeping up with traffic as the powertrain delivered decent acceleration. The dual-clutch delivered smooth and quick shifts. Handling is a strong point to the Ioniq as it delivers little body roll and responds quickly to steering inputs. Ride quality could be better as the Ioniq does let in more jolts than the Kia Niro or Toyota Prius. Another area the Ioniq doesn’t fare so well in us noise isolation. There is a fair amount of tire roar that comes inside at speeds above 50 mph.  Telling the Ioniq Blue apart from the other models is quite easy. The front end has a plain black grille and vents in the bumper where the LED foglights would reside. 15-inch wheels with aero wheel covers come standard. Aside from some missing features such as power adjustments for the driver’s seat, the interior of the Ioniq Blue is the same as the SEL. That means a simple and clean dash design, a set of front seats that become a bit uncomfortable during long trips, and a tight back seat for tall passengers. For being a base model, the Blue comes well equipped. There is a proximity key, push-button start, 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility; Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, and automatic headlights. How much? The Blue begins at $22,220, and my tester came to an as-tested price of $23,210 with destination and optional floor mats. As my week with the Ioniq Blue came to a close, I came to the realization that I liked it slightly more than the Prius. A lot of it comes down to the Ioniq offering better performance while returning just as impressive fuel economy figures as the Prius I drove back in 2016. The high amount of features for a low price also favors the Ioniq. I still do think the Ioniq is in a bit of tough spot due to the large appetite for crossovers. This is evident when you compare the sales of the Ioniq to its sister model, the Kia Niro. Through the end of July, the Niro outsold the Ioniq by 6,716 units. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Ioniq, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Ioniq
      Trim: Blue
      Engine: 1.6L GDI Atkinson-Cycle Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor, Lithium-ion Polymer Battery Pack
      Driveline: Six-Speed Dual-Clutch Transmission, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 104 @ 5,700 (Gas); 43 @ 0 (Electric); 139 (Total)
      Torque @ RPM: 109 @ 4,000 (Gas); 125 @ 0 (Electric)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 57/59/58
      Curb Weight: 2,996 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea
      Base Price: $22,200
      As Tested Price: $23,210 (Includes $885.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00
       

      View full article
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