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Nissan Juke is no joke

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The Nissan Juke is one quirky-looking vehicle. It reminds me of a sawed-off shotgun and left me wondering what the heck happened to the back end of the car?

Pretty easy to assume that I'm no fan of the Juke's look. However, the Juke is no joke. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed test driving the 2013 Nissan Juke and even got used to the odd appearance. Yet it was the performance than really won me over. The Juke is one very fun vehicle to drive.

This tiny crossover or four-door hatchback (whichever term you prefer) measures nearly two feet shorter than the Nissan Rogue, which was the Nissan's smallest entry until the Juke arrived. Besides the smallish rear end, the Juke features a grille that extends to the width of the car, some very hefty fender flares, and stacked front lights.

Obviously Nissan is not afraid to take a few chances. The Juke joins the Cube and Quest minivan as examples of Nissan's design team making a bold statement. The Juke platform is the same one used by the Nissan Versa subcompact and the Cube wagon.

But enough about appearance. The Juke is one lively crossover that offers sporty handling and has available all-wheel drive. It corners skillfully and provides a smooth ride at high freeway speeds or just cruising around town in moderate traffic.

All Juke trim models, with the exception of the Nismo, feature a turbocharged, 1.6-liter inline-4 engine that produces 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. That might not sound like much, but it's plenty. The estimated 0-60 mph in 7.3 seconds actually sounds high to me; the Juke seems faster than that due to its quick acceleration.

The Juke Nismo, which debuted in 2013, is equipped with nearly same engine, but has 197 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.

Two other aspects to really admire about the Juke are gas mileage and price. The Juke gets between 27-31 mph, so a tank of gas can go a long way. The vehicle also is priced inexpensively, ranging between $18,990 and $25,990. The Nismo model driven here went for $22,990.

Appealing to the young driver who wants performance and good gas mileage at a low price, Nissan has done a great job of positioning the Juke amongst its competitors. It definitely has a higher fun factor than other small hatchbacks such as the Kia Soul, Mitsubishi Outback Sport, Chevrolet Sonic, and Scion xB.

Due to its funky size, note that the Juke does have other negatives. Its sloping roof line offers insufficient head room for rear passengers, so tall people might not enjoy a ride in the back seat. And the cargo space is small, although putting the seats down creates 36 cubic feet.

2013 Nissan Juke

  • Performance: 1.6-liter, inline-4 engine, 188 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 27-32 mpg
  • Price: $18,990 to $25,990
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/100,000 miles; corrosion 5years/60,000

The cabin has a lot of hard plastic, but the Juke does feature a smartly done dashboard with large knobs that is easy to master.

No doubt the Juke probable attracts some car buyers, simply due to its peculiar look. It one isn't bothered by its appearance, the Juke is worth considering as a small crossover.

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Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at skiweidel@gmail.com
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.



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