2010 Nissan Cube Review
SEE ALSO: Nissan Specs, Prices and Comparisons
HEELS ON WHEELS: 2009 NISSAN CUBE REVIEW
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE CUBE VEHICLE
New for 2009 is the 5-passenger Nissan Cube – another funky mobile creation wanting a piece of the square auto pie. You certainly won't be injuring yourself on any of these rounded-off exterior corners. I'm sure the Cube has taken its fair share of comments from consumers and reporters alike for its asymmetrical approach to vehicle construction. But success with the Scion xB and Honda Element proves there is a market for all auto shapes and sizes.
I drove a 2009 Nissan Cube with the SL trim. All Cubes feature the 122-horsepower 1.8-liter DOCH 16-valve 4-cylinder engine. The automatic Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) is optional on the S trim and standard on the SL and Krom (a 6-speed manual transmission is available for the SL and Krom only). My Cube SL had several optional packages, such as the $1,600 Preferred Package (remote keyless entry, push-button start, Bluetooth, rear sonar system); a $230 Interior Design Package (carpets and a shag dash); a $100 Vehicle Alarm Sensor; and a $490 Interior Illumination Package (a 20-color accent lighting system plus stainless steel kick plates). Total vehicle price came to $19,930.
What's nice about the Cube is that if you went all out and selected a fully loaded Krom trim (all the above plus a unique body design; a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; lot of interior lights; a Rockford Fosgate audio system) you'd still only reach a low $20k. The Cube also has a hinged rear tailgate for easy in-and-out access.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: Standard interior attributes on any Cube include air conditioning (with in-cabin microfilter); CD audio system with auxiliary jack; power windows and door locks. The S trim adds cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls; two more audio speakers; and interior lights and pockets. The SL has an automatic headlight system and better audio options; the Krom's extras are outlined above. I think lefties will really appreciate the driver cup holder embedded to the left in the dash. Look up and observe the rippling ceiling. Unfortunately the second-row seats did not fold and tumble forward to create much needed additional cargo space. The rear hinged tailgate that opens like a door and the wrap-around windows almost make up for this.
Reliability & Safety Factor: Standard safety features include six standard airbags in the Cube, which include roof-mounted bags. It has Zone Body Construction, which are front and rear crumple zones and high-strength steel side-door guard beams. Also included are Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH), Anti-lock Braking System, Vehicle Dynamic Control, Traction Control System, Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Available is Nissan's Vehicle Security System and the Rear Sonar System.
Cost Issues: If you don't find the look all that attractive on the Cube, you might find the price. Base price starts at $13,990; the S trim at $14,690; the SL at $16,790 and the Krom $19,370. Maybe you could opt out for the Rear Sonar System in the $1,600 Preferred Package and save a little (the windows and size don't make this feature a necessity).
Activity & Performance Ability: The seats and windows are almost comically oversized, which gives you a sense of roominess. Nissan's automatic Xtronic CVT or the Continuous Variable Transmission takes some getting used to. I first experienced this type of transaxle on the Jeep Patriot. It doesn’t' shift from gear-to-gear with all the traditional jerking and loud whining, signifying a change in gears. Instead, these gears are layered into one another for a smoother transition. Nevertheless the 1.8-liter engine was as peppy as expected for an engine of this size and the Vehicle Dynamic Control gave the car a higher sense of gravity and grip.
The Green Concern: The Cube has bigger engine number than the MINI Cooper and garners the same gas mileage at 29-mpg; plus, you'll have more room for your passengers in the Cube. It is pronounced a Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV).
FINAL PARTING WORDS
While you don't have as many options to personalize the Cube as you do with the Scion xB, the Cube is about $3-5k cheaper to own and beats the xB's average gas consumption of 24-mpg. The hinged door is a real plus but the lack of cargo space could give you second thoughts.
©2009 Katrina Ramser