2009 Nissan cube SL Review


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2009 Nissan cube SL

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THE AUTO PAGE
By
JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS – 2009 Nissan cube SL


Model: Nissan cube SL
Engine: 1.8-liter I4
Horsepower/Torque: 122 hp @ 5,200 rpm/127 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission: Xtronic CVT
Wheelbase: 99.6 in.
Length/Width/Height: 156.7 x 66.7 x 65.0 in.
Tires: P195/55R16
Cargo volume: 11.4/58.1 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)
Fuel economy: TBD/24.2 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 13.2 gal.
Sticker: $15,690 (base SL)

The Bottom Line: The cube’s quirky design disguises some nice features. The car is easy to drive and has lots of interior room for its small exterior size. Like the other “box” cars (Scion xB, Kia Soul), you have to get past the styling before you can appreciate its good features.

“Box cars” are all the rage these days. First it was the Scion xB, now in its second generation. Now Kia’s Soul and Nissan’s cube have joined the party.

Box cars are efficient transporters. They’ll carry four passengers in relative comfort as well as a good amount of cargo. Don’t look for outstanding power, but expect economy.

Nissan’s cube (the name is in lower case) has what may be described as the quirkiest styling. Like its competitors, it’s basically not-beautiful (I can’t get the nerve to say it’s ugly). With aerodynamic faring in the front and rear fascias, it doesn’t have seams to break up the lines. The asymmetric design of the rear door is unique and adds to the charm.


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I surveyed everyone who stopped to look at the car and found the type of responses Nissan is probably looking for in its marketing. For example, young people seemed to like it more than older people, males more than females. In fact, females of all ages disliked it almost universally. The olive drab color didn’t help.

However, like the BMW Z4 and Pontiac Aztek, you can’t see the outside from the inside, so styling doesn’t affect how you feel about driving the cube. In fact, once you’re behind the wheel, the cube is a pleasant car to drive. The 122 horsepower engine is plenty for a car that only weighs 2,884 pounds. Acceleration isn’t neck-snapping, but it does enable the cube to get out of its own way. The engine is noisy when provoked, but sounds like a normal four when you’re under way.

The cube is a very good city car. It is maneuverable in traffic and easy to park. While I wouldn’t love it on a long trip, it does hold its own on Interstates. Handling is good. The cube isn’t a sports car, but it also isn’t a car that you have to back off or brake heavily every time there’s a sharp bend in the road.

I liked the visibility from inside. All the windows are large and the rear-door asymmetry is on the driver’s side, so there’s no blind spot there. The windows are rounded at the corners.

The audio system was a love-hate affair as well. The radio didn’t pull in my favorite Philadelphia stations (about 60 miles away), but the iPod connection was easy and that part of the audio worked like a charm.


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An advantage to box cars is their carrying capacity. We hauled flowers and pots back from the nursery and tree trimmings out to the compost center. The rear seat backs fold to give a flat surface and there’s a well that carries taller objects.

As with most Nissan/Infiniti vehicles, there’s a keyless entry and pushbutton start/stop. The door pulls have bottoms so there’s a good place to keep the keys. There’s also a small cubby under the start/stop button, which is probably designed for the keys but is perfect for a cell phone. In addition, the instruments are blue and white and easy on the eyes. There is a pair of ginormous sun visors which are great, but they’re so far away they’re hard to use.

I have to admit that I’m among the group of people who wasn’t turned off by the cube’s styling. I liked the way the cube drove and rode, and was impressed by its utility.

2009 The Auto Page Syndicate

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