2009 Nissan cube Review
By James Tate of MSN Autos
Although it may seem just another entry into the exploding “box car” segment, the 2009 Nissan cube could actually be the originator.
Entering its third generation, the extreme-styled cube has been sold in Japan since 1998. Now, Nissan has finally deemed it ready for U.S. consumption.
The cube infuses a much needed dose of eccentricity into the style-conscious youth market at a time when the competition is growing more conventional.
The not-so-stripped-down base 1.8 comes standard with all the key desirables, such as power accessories, CD player with aux input for a portable audio player such as an iPod, keyless entry, 15-inch wheels and a multitude of safety features. Though stepping up to the S nets only a few minor additions, including upgraded cloth and cruise control, the SL strikes the best balance of great features with 16-inch alloy wheels, standard continuously variable transmission, and an upgraded stereo with iPod connectivity, along with additional conveniences. The SL Preferred package is the only available factory option for the cube. It packs in numerous techno-conveniences, including parking sonar and intelligent key.
Think of the top-line Krōm (pronounced chrome) model as a prepackaged custom cube. With features including aggressive front and rear fascias, unique 16-inch alloy wheels, a Rockford Fosgate subwoofer, multicolor interior illumination and a host of interior accents, the Krōm enhances the cube’s expressive and youthful spirit.
Under the Hood
Buyers have their choice of two transmissions: a 6-speed manual that is standard on the base and S trims, or an Xtronic CVT that is optional on the S and standard on the SL and Krōm versions. Either choice nets miserly gas mileage, estimated to be just short of the 27 mpg city/33 mpg highway achieved by the less vertical Versa. All models come standard with traction control and Nissan’s stability control (VDC).
Thanks to a tall profile and vertical walls, the aptly named cube packs in heaps of space relative to its diminutive size. The plentiful headroom and legroom could accommodate a Yeti, aided by a sliding and reclining rear seat — a unique feature in this class. Around back, a large refrigerator-like rear door conveniently opens away from the curb to reveal a disappointingly shallow 11.4 cubic feet of storage space. Drop the 60/40 split folding rear seats, and space improves significantly to 58.1 cubic feet, although the bi-level arrangement can transform packing into a game of Tetris. While the cube does not have dozens of storage nooks sprinkled throughout, it does offer some innovative solutions, such as extra-high cupholders in the front dash and bungee straps on the doors.
On the Road
Although both transmission choices maximize use of the buzzy 4-cylinder engine almost flawlessly, the CVT truly shines. Most CVTs promise to maximize acceleration by holding the engine at peak power output, but this is one of the few that deliver, and it seems perfectly matched to the cube experience.
Overall, the driving experience is a relative side note. The cube is something you enjoy while driving, not for the drive itself.
Right for You?
James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side asSenior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate isusually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.