2012 Juke New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Juke is a small, five-seat crossover with distinctive, fun styling, sharp performance and decent cargo space. Those who appreciate unique design and don't mind standing out should love it. It's a great car for running errands around town, hauling boxes, jumping in and out, parking in tight places.
The Juke was introduced as a 2011 model, so the 2012 Juke is unchanged. The Juke is built on Nissan's global B platform, proven with familiar cars like the Versa hatchback and sedan.
The 2012 Nissan Juke is offered in three trim levels, with front- or all-wheel drive, and it's available with high-end features like a Rockford-Fosgate powered subwoofer and navigation with XM traffic reporting.
The name Juke is supposed to suggest flitting around town, as a boxer might juke around the ring, and the Nissan Juke does just that. Juke's styling is aggressively quirky. It's built on a short, 96-inch wheelbase, making it agile for juking around town.
Juke's steering is responsive, and it sticks nicely to pavement on winding roads. Yet its short wheelbase, suspension tuning and relatively large 17-inch wheels combine for a ride the calls out every undulation. It's not sharp or harsh so much as bouncy. When you're driving the Juke over bumps you're fully aware you're in a tight little car.
Juke's 1.6-liter turbocharged direct-injection engine generates a lot of power for its diminutive size, giving it peppy performance. The engine delivers 188 horsepower, 177 pound-feet of torque and brisk acceleration.
The continuously variable transmission, or CVT, is one of the best examples of this technology to date. It can be used like an automatic, shifted into Drive and forgotten, or shifted manually with six speed ranges that sharpen performance. A 6-speed manual gearbox is available for models with front-wheel drive. The manual transmission wrings out the quickest acceleration and best fuel economy, but we found it also emphasizes torque steer and the raucous quality of the engine.
All-wheel drive (AWD) gives the Juke all-season capability though it reduces fuel economy slightly. Juke AWD only comes with the CVT.
Fuel economy ratings for all Jukes are lower than those of the competition. The Juke gets an EPA-estimated 27/32 mpg City/Highway with front-wheel drive and the CVT or 25/31 mpg with the manual transmission. With all-wheel drive, Juke is rated 25/30 mpg. Premium gasoline is recommended.
The Juke seats five, though there isn't much legroom in the back seats. The rear seat is split 60/40 and folds flat. And that's the best configuration: using the Juke as a two-seater with a lot of cargo space.
We found the front seats comfortable while driving about. The fabric is sporty in the Juke SV, while the leather in the Juke SL is impressive. The center console design is inspired by a motorcycle gas tank, and its hard plastic trim is painted a glossy silver or deep metallic red. It's distinctive, and cool.
The Juke competes in one of the fastest growing chunks of the new vehicle market. Juke front-wheel-drive models go head to head with the Kia Soul, while Juke AWD squares off with the Suzuki SX4, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. The stylish Juke can also be compared with the more expensive Mini Cooper Countryman ALL4.
The 2012 Nissan Juke is available in eight variants, with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive and a 6-speed manual or CVT automatic. All Jukes are powered by a 188-horspepower, 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
Juke S ($19,770) comes with the CVT, cloth upholstery, air conditioning, power windows, power locks and mirrors, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels and a six-speaker stereo with single CD, XM satellite radio hardware, auxiliary input jack and Bluetooth connectivity. The Juke S AWD ($21,430) adds the all-wheel drive system, which comes with the CVT in all trim levels.
Juke SV ($21,080) and SV AWD ($23,230) upgrade with a more plush fabric upholstery, power moonroof, rear privacy glass, automatic temperature control, proximity key with pushbutton ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the integrated control (I-CON) system with Sport, Normal and Eco modes for programming engine, transmission and steering response. The front-drive SV comes with the 6-speed manual, though the CVT ($500) is available. The optional navigation package ($800) includes a five-inch screen, upgraded speakers with a powered subwoofer and a USB connection.
Juke SL ($23,400) and SL AWD ($25,550) include the navigation package, and include leather upholstery, heated front seats, a rearview camera and foglights. The front-drive SL comes with the manual or CVT ($500). Options include a Chrome Package ($540), Interior Illumination Package ($490) and a Sport Package ($1,310), which adds a rear spoiler, stainless steel exhaust finisher and Gunmetal wheels.
Safety equipment on all Jukes includes front-impact airbags, front passenger side-impact airbags, full cabin head protection curtains, Nissan's Vehicle Dynamic Control, or stability control, antilock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), and a tire-pressure monitor. The rearview camera is available only on the SL.