Nissan Juke Road Test

First Drive
Nissan Juke
A funky-looking quasi-SUV derived from the small Nissan Versa.
Overview
The funky-looking Juke is a quasi-SUV derived from the small Nissan Versa. It's got the raised ride height and optional all-wheel drive of an SUV but the steeply raked rear quarter of a hatchback. Our testers all enjoyed driving it but had some doubts about its usefulness, largely because of the very tight rear seats and the trifling cargo space behind them. Nimble handling and a punchy turbocharged powertrain make it fun and agile. Fuel economy isn't bad for an all-wheel-drive vehicle but the need for premium fuel is a downer. As in many other sporty cars, the cabin is noisy, the sharp handling comes with a stiff ride, and the styling hampers rear visibility.

Notable changes: A rear-view monitor is standard for 2015. NISMO models come with various suspension and styling upgrades, and the NISMO RS gets 215 hp. Infotainment systems get a boost for 2016 with available Siri Eyes Free.

Impressions
Ride comfort and noise: A stiff, choppy ride accompanied by lots of road noise undermines what would otherwise be a completely enjoyable driving experience. Even on a smooth highway, the ride stays nervous and busy. A fair mount of wind noise and a booming engine hum also creeps in.

Handling: Bombing around town or out in the country, the Juke feels agile and sporty. It corners eagerly, with little body lean and good grip. The steering feels responsive and very quick, though purists may want a trifle more road feel. A modest 37-foot turning circle helps in parking maneuvers. At our track the Juke proved stable and secure when pushed to the limits. It posted a high speed through our avoidance maneuver and instilled lots of driver confidence while doing so.

Powertrain: Turbocharging helps endow the small, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with a hefty 188 hp, which delivers power smoothly throughout the rev range. We chalked up 24 mpg overall -- not impressive for a small car, but not bad for an all-wheel drive vehicle. Annoyingly, it requires premium gas. The continuously variable transmission makes the most of the small engine's power output. It has a Sport mode that simulates six manual-shift points, but we found we could accelerate faster in Normal mode. The all-wheel-drive system works transparently. (Opting for front-wheel drive would save about $1,850.)

CR's Take
Highs: Handling, powertrain.

Lows: Ride, noise, rear visibility, rear seat, small cargo area, non-telescope wheel, premium fuel, IIHS small overlap crash-test results.

Below average New Car Reliability Prediction

Based on the latest survey, we expect reliability of new models will be 11% below average

Warranty

All cars come with basic warranty coverage, also known as a bumper-to-bumper warranty. This protects consumers against unexpected problems with non-wear items. Powertrain warranty protects against engine and transmission troubles. Rust through, or corrosion warranty, covers rust to non-damaged components. Roadside aid provides on-location assistance in case of a breakdown and may include limited towing services.

Extended warranties provide peace of mind. Owners of models known to have worse-than-average predicted reliability can mitigate risks with an extended warranty. Generally, we recommend buying a model with better-than-average reliability and skipping this expensive add on. If you do buy an extended warranty, it is key to read the small print to understand what is covered and where you can bring the car for repairs.

Basic (years/miles)
3/36000

Powertrain (years/miles)
5/60000

Rust through (years/miles)
5/unlimited

Roadside aid (years/miles)
5/60000