2009 Cube New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Cube is a new entry to the U.S., a small crossover SUV sporting a boxy, whimsical body design housing a practical cabin. Small on the outside, it's easy to maneuver, easy to park, and it's EPA-rated at 30 miles per gallon Highway. Yet it's big on the inside. It seats five people, with miles of headroom and acres of cargo space.
Nissan refers to the Cube as a mobile hub, instead of a car, because it is meant as an affordable, moveable gathering place for young people, their friends, and their music. Its back seat reclines for comfort or can be deleted for van-like cargo space. Nissan markets its cube in fashionable lower case, like iPhone and smart fortwo.
The Cube is a newcomer to the U.S. market, but it has been on sale for 10 years in Japan, and this version is actually the third generation of this product. The Cube predates the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Scion xB, Kia Soul, Toyota Yaris, and Honda Fit, all of which Nissan counts as the Cube's direct competitors. The Cube is built on the same Nissan B platform as the Versa, a roomy subcompact that also competes with those cars.
The Nissan Cube is powered by a 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine, the same engine that powers the Nissan Versa in this market. Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual transmission or the Nissan-built Xtronic continuously variable transmission, or CVT.
We found the Cube perky in the big city and able to keep up with the traffic on the highway. Easy to park, it can make a U-turn in the tiniest of spaces. It made us smile, it's cute, it holds a lot of people and cargo, it's zippy, and it can be easily customized with accessories.
The Cube is the latest addition to an increasingly crowded segment of cute little cars aimed at younger drivers, but it can certainly be appreciated by older drivers who need a second car as a runabout or weekender, or those in between who are looking to downsize their car payment and fuel bills.
Nissan says its designers had in mind a bulldog wearing sunglasses when they were working on the Cube. Whereas most four-door cars have four visible pillars to hold up the roof, the Cube's deliberately asymmetrical design has only three visible pillars, the fourth one at the right rear covered by dark glass. That feature plus the concave, rounded corners on each of the four side windows, short windows in the front doors and longer windows in the rear give the Cube a unique appearance.
The 2009 Nissan Cube comes in a choice of four models: Cube ($13,990), Cube S ($14,690), Cube SL ($16,790), and Cube Krom ($19,630).
The Cube comes standard with manual air conditioning, cruise control, a multi-function steering wheel, power windows, power mirrors and locks, an AM/FM/CD sound system with AUX plug and four speakers. Cube and Cube S come with a six-speed manual or optional CVT ($1000).
The Cube S upgrades from the base model with premium grade fabric, body-colored outside mirrors, cruise control, and a cargo area cover, among other features.
The Cube SL comes standard with the CVT, 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, auto on/off headlights, automatic temperature control A/C, the interface system for the Apple iPod, and six speakers.
The Cube Krom includes an exclusive integrated body design, 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a sporty interior treatment, Rockford Fosgate subwoofer, and the Xtronic CVT.
Options include XM satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, an iPod interface system, and an intelligent key system with starter button. More than 40 accessory items are available from the factory or installed at the Nissan dealership, everything from plush pile carpet to bungee cords for storage to a navigation system and an interior illumination system that offers a choice of 20 colors or a display mode that changes colors continuously.
Safety equipment standard on all models includes six front, side and curtain air bags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, yaw control.