This week, we’re driving the 2015 Nissan Juke SL AWD that is classified by the EPA as a small station wagon. Although Nissan originally built the Juke to attract a younger demographic, an expanding number of baby boomers are driving Jukes, and Nissan expects this trend to continue. Specifically, one of my baby-boomer neighbors came over to give the Juke a closer look as he and his wife are considering a Juke purchase.
Sporting a new facelift and a few other styling upgrades, Juke for 2015 delivers the utility of a Crossover, sports car like road manners and an entry price of just $20,250 for the front-drive “S” model.
Pricing moves upward for the remaining two front drive Jukes, namely the SV at $22,300 or the SL at $25,240. The AWD models cost an additional $1,700 on average, as our tester came in AWD SL trim with a base of $26,940.
Assembled in Los Angeles, Juke relies on its popular 1.6-liter turbocharged 188-horse four-cylinder for power. The turbocharger helps deliver 177 lb. ft. of torque and adds to the Juke “sports car” ingredient. No longer is a six-speed manual available in S, SV and SL, replaced by a CVT with Sport mode. If you want a six-speed manual, consider the high-performance Nismo RS, which comes with the six-speed manual and generates 215 horses from a specially tuned turbo engine. The CVT is optional on Nismo RS models and AWD is available
Overall, the CVT generates great fuel economy across the board with 26 city and 31 highway with AWD components, and 28 and 32, respectively, in FWD dress. The Nismo RS FWD is not far off, with 25 city and 31 highway while the AWD delivers 25 city and 29 highway with the CVT.
Of course, all small Crossovers have inherent shortcomings. Listed as a five-passenger, the rear seat is very tight and legroom is at a premium if the front driver/passenger has the seat in “full back” position. However, younger family members and pets will fare well and when it’s time for some shopping, the fold down 60/40 rear split seat frees up some additional cargo room.
Underneath, Juke is solid front-to-rear. MacPherson struts up front tandem with a multi-link rear for excellent handling, overall. Our tester’s Torque Vectoring AWD 4x4 system delivers traction to the wheels as necessary while fore and aft stabilizers and 17-inch tires on aluminum alloys add to the car’s sporty appearance. As for the ride, the short wheelbase and stiff AWD components result in a more bumpy experience on back roads, although once you hit the highway Juke is similar to a “family sedan” on the comfort scale.
Juke receives high marks from this scribe for its interior décor and functionality, with sporty gauges, color coordinated seating, Nissan Connect with voice activated Navigation, Rockford Fosgate Premium stereo, XM/Sirius with traffic, push button start, iPod, MP3, Bluetooth, cruise, power sliding moonroof, and much more. There’s also a new “color studio” where you can order your Juke in an array of color coordinated motifs.
Standard Juke safety features include all-around view rear safety camera displayed on a 5.8-inch color screen, all the airbags, traction control, four-wheel ABS discs, electronic brakeforce, vehicle dynamics control and more. Your Nissan dealer will gladly explain all features.
Our high end tester came with two options, a center armrest package for $250 and carpeted floor and cargo mats for $210. With $825 delivery, it brought the final tally to $28,225 retail. (Please check for latest Nissan buyer incentives).
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 99.6-inches, 10.5 cu. ft. to 35.5 cu. ft. of cargo space, 11.8 gal. fuel tank (13.2 in FWD models) and a curb weight of 3,209 lbs. (3,026 lbs. FWD).
Granted, Nissan Juke is not for everyone. However, it scores well in all categories and there's no car on the road quite like it as it smashes today’s “cookie cutter” style cues that make quick vehicle identity more difficult than ever when driving the nation’s highways.
Thanks to Juke’s use of its 370Z tail and headlights, the enhanced athletic blueprint and limitless “color studio” exterior/interior combos, the 2015 Juke is an overall winner for ages 18 to 80.
Baby boomer or not, Juke’s “young at heart” styling wouldn’t scare me away from buying one.
2015 Nissan Juke
Entry Price: $20,250
Price as tested: $28,225
Likes: Powerful, sporty handling, aggressive looks.
Dislikes: Tight back seat, rear visibility hindered, noisy cabin.