Five-Point Inspection: 2015 Nissan Juke

Luke Vandezande
by Luke Vandezande

The Juke is a hit in Europe with a limited, but loyal and enthusiastic following in North America. Even Nissan admits that its success came as a surprise.

But now the Juke is part of what’s become one of the fastest growing segments: sub-compact crossovers. Unlike more mature parts of the market, America’s smallest crossovers aren’t competing with one another in as direct a manner as, say the Civic and Corolla or the Camry and Accord do.

Nissan’s sub-compact crossover is vastly different than the Chevrolet Trax, yet they’re still technically competitors. Newcomers like the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 will be here soon too, so what is Nissan bringing to the table?

I’ve never really liked how the Juke looks. To me it seems like a frog on wheels with hideous headlights and an undesirable body shape. Thankfully for Nissan, my opinion doesn’t count for much because I’m not lining up to buy one. Evidently there are quite a few people who disagree with me on that point, because the car is a hit.

This year, Nissan will sell you an even crazier looking Juke through something it calls the Color Studio. Basically it’s possible to order one finished in neon paint colors with front and rear bumper accents, special trim on the headlights, side mirror caps and more.

There are plenty of people who complain about the Lexus spindle grille and I think it’s gorgeous. Who’s to say what’s hot and not?

One thing was true from day one with the Juke and it hasn’t changed: it’s a lot of fun to drive. The steering wheel offers plenty of feedback, especially when you consider that it sits at crossover height.

But it’s the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes it even more endearing. The engine makes 188 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque in base form with more potent versions available in the NISMO and NISMO RS models.

Nissan used to offer a manual in the base front-wheel drive model, but now the only way to get a stick is with the most expensive NISMO and NISMO RS performance version. For 2015, the base car still uses a front-wheel drive layout, but it comes with a CVT. Models mated to a continuously variable transmission are available with both front- and all-wheel drive.

In its sport mode and equipped with the CVT, the Juke will actually simulate a downshift when it senses an upcoming corner so that you can exit with access to most of the power its little engine will squeeze out.

The Juke doesn’t offer loads of space by any means, but with 10.5 cubic feet in the rear with all the seats up, it’s enough for a large grocery run. If you lower the second row, that area increases to almost 36 cubic feet.

Speaking of the second row, space is limited. Again, that’s nothing new for the Juke, but it’s worth bearing in mind if you’re thinking about buying one and driving around with multiple passengers. The second row will do for short trips, but it’s not an ideal space for adults on longer drives.

For reference, the Trax offers 18.7 cubic feet with all its seats standing or 48.8 with the second row lowered.

At a starting price of $21,075 including delivery, you would get a front-wheel drive model with 17-inch alloy wheels and Bluetooth cell phone connectivity. That’s roughly the same price as you would pay for a Chevrolet Trax and probably pretty close to where the HR-V and CX-3 will start once they arrive.

With the Juke you wind up sacrificing storage space in the name of driving fun, but it really is that much more entertaining. Ask yourself one question: do you need the extra capacity? If so, there are better options. But if not, this thing is a hoot to drive that you probably won’t regret.

Interested in purchasing a Nissan Juke? Then head over to our New Car Buying Page, where you can see the whole Juke line up and pricing.

Luke Vandezande
Luke Vandezande

Luke is an energetic automotive journalist who spends his time covering industry news and crawling the internet for the latest breaking story. When he isn't in the office, Luke can be found obsessively browsing used car listings, drinking scotch at his favorite bar and dreaming of what to drive next, though the list grows a lot faster than his bank account. He's always on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="">Twitter</A> looking for a good car conversation. Find Luke on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="">Twitter</A> and <A title="Luke on Google+" href="">Google+</A>.

More by Luke Vandezande

Join the conversation
2 of 3 comments
  • Tik B Lang Tik B Lang on Feb 18, 2015

    I'm done with Nissan. My next car will be at least 2 liter turbo, RWD mate with 6MT and "two" inches longer wheelbase. (and rear passenger leg room). "CVT is a Jooke"!!

  • Dmack Dmack on Mar 11, 2015

    The Juke styling grows on you. Gas mileage is so-so. Driving experience? Not a sports car. absolute blast to drive. Set the "Sport" mode, manual shift the CVT and off you go. Decent cornering, will remind you it's a crossover but not to the level you feel out of control. Have had mine 9 months now.