The Nissan Cube may be new to the U.S. market, but the miniature box shaped people mover has been on sale in Japan for over a decade. For 2009 Nissan has redesigned the Cube and decided that they can compete with other space conscious small cars like the Scion xB and the new Kia Soul . Our car came with a 122 HP 1.8 Liter four cylinder engine connected to a fuel efficient Xtronic CVT, continuously variable transmission.
Our $22,780 Cube Mobile Device came complete with the optional Ginormous Kit that adds some bulging bodywork and a healthy dose of personality to Nissan’s boxcar. The interior was equally as interesting with a few carbon fiber trim pieces and a piece of funky looking shag carpet smack dab in the middle of the dash. The only thing better than the spacious interior of our Cube was the way it drove. The Cube was softly sprung and extremely comfortable. The 2009 Cube is all new for the U.S. and it might take some getting used to for domestic consumers, however one quick fix for any hesitant new car buyer would be a test drive.
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The Nissan Cube is different from anything that you have ever seen on four wheels before. While driving out on public streets, the comments from passers by ranged from curiosity to protests. That could be partly due to our test vehicle’s factory aero upgrade appropriately entitled, “Ginormous Kit” which made our Caribbean Blue Cube stick out like a sore thumb no matter where it went.
The absolutely audacious factory body kit consists of aridiculously oversized front bumper spoiler complete with bulging winglets on either side that give the Cube a solid appearance, a set of lower hanging side skirts that trick the eye into thinking that the Cube’s chassis is riding closer to the ground and the obligatory larger rear wing; all of which works well when combined with our car’s 16 inch rims.
Unique to the Cube is a wraparound rear window that creates a large glass surface connecting the back with the rear passenger side pane. This is a clear example of Nissan’s well thought out practical design; the fifth door is hinged to open towards the passenger side of the vehicle. This layout makes loading cargo into the rear of the vehicle much easier when parallel parked at the curb.
Despite our reaction to the completely different design, the Cube has an attractive face made up of a pair of unique headlamps tied together by a reflective checkerboard like grill. The Cube’s taillight cluster is just as easy on the eyes as the front end, the two brake lights are joined by a large red bar that stretches across the back of the vehicle with the word “Cube” written in the middle. Like we said before, the Nissan Cube is an all new take on the boxcar segment, unlike anything that you have ever seen before.
The interior of the Nissan Cube features some nice touches, but the first thing that you will notice when behind the wheel is just how spacious the cabin is, despite the compact exterior, the box shape makes the most of the available breathing room to create a wide open cockpit. Starting off, the light up “Cube” on the doorsill welcomes you into the vehicle and the gauges continue the glowing bright blue theme. What was interesting to see inside the Cube was an all new steering wheel, the unit is different than the traditional Nissan multifunctional offering, it featured a much more slender shape and matched the rest of the beige interior perfectly.
The Cube is also filled with creature comforts, like a multi sized cup holder next to steering wheel, so no matter whether the driver has a small coffee from Starbucks or a Big Gulp from 7-11 they won’t have to reach far in order to quench their thirst. On the opposite side of the dash, the designers added in a neat little shelf that acts like a sort of table in front of the passenger riding shotgun. Just to the right of that is the standard issue AM/FM/XM radio that is ready to swallow CDs and play MP3s through an AUX input.
The Cube also features a few eye catching touches that go a long way to dress up the interior, like the large round lit control center that replaces the traditional center stack. The door pulls have also been dressed up with some interesting orange bungee cords. The approach is unique and works surprisingly well to hold in place while keeping them in easy reach. Their bright color works well with the darker carbon fiber trim on the window switches as well as the a/c vents to dress up our Cube’s beige interior. The Cube’s interior features a few touches that set this vehicle apart from ordinary people movers; one of the clearest examples of this is the small piece of shag carpeting that sits in the middle of the dash.
Nissan’s design team tried very hard to convince new car buyers that the Cube’s wavy headliner is supposed to remind passengers of relaxing in a Jacuzzi style hot tub and create a more relaxed social environment, however we are still trying to figure out that one. The seats were covered in cloth; the buckets were extremely comfortable and made from very plush cushions. While the chairs were easy on our posteriors, they were not much to look at. The fuzzy fabric had a sort of pattern etched into it creating a design that broke up the large space, but we would have rather seen leather.
The Nissan Cube drives like a dream; even over the most uneven of surfaces our Mobile Device rode smooth and steady. Although the crossover’s suspension was softly dampened, the vehicle didn’t exhibit the kind of body roll that you would expect from such a soft riding automobile, especially one that is that tall.
Our Cube’s 122 HP 1.8 Liter four cylinder was more than capable of pulling the Nissan around town and made just enough power not to get into trouble on the highway, while the 127 lb-ft of torque made the lightweight boxcar tons of fun to drive. Thanks to the fuel efficient Xtronic continuously variable transmission the Cube is rated at an EPA estimated 28 MPG in the city and 30 MPG when cruising at highway speeds.
Our Nissan Cube was an absolute pleasure to drive. The ride was much more comfortable than we ever expected while still handling like a champion. However, being behind the wheel of the Nissan Cube is only half of the driving fun. Just like driving an exotic sports car, when at the Cube’s controls you can expect to turn quite a few heads and be prepared to explain what exactly it is that you are driving to other commuters in traffic.
Why to buy:
The Nissan Cube is the perfect vehicle for a new car buyer looking for a funky little ride that packs in a huge amount of style and personality at a price point (starting at under $17,000) that won’t break the bank. It also helps id you don’t care about what others think about you, like we said before, when behind the wheel of a vehicle as different as the Cube almost everyone outside will turn into a critic.
Why not to buy:
The only reason that we can come up with not buy a Cube is not to buy this particular example. By losing the “Ginormous Package” you can save over $2,500 and if you drop our car’s premium 16 inch wheels you can shed almost $800 off the purchase price of the new vehicle.
Other options for new car shoppers looking to get into the boxcar segment should look at the other offerings in the market like the car that started it all, the Scion xB. Another choice for comparison would be the user friendly Honda Element, equally unique Kia Soul and even the American made Ford Flex.
Top Speed Final Verdict:
The Nissan Cube is an excellent automobile; the car has unique styling, a stellar ride and plenty of personality all at a very reasonable cost of ownership. The “Ginormous Kit” is pushing taste a little bit, but if it didn’t then Nissan’s design team wouldn’t be doing their job to attract a fresh new group of younger car buyers. We absolutely loved everything about our Mobile Device experience; our only complaint is that for this much money we want to park our rear ends on some leather wrapped seats.