Cars don't get more quirky or whimsical than the Nissan cube, a small hatchback that resembles the box it was shipped to the United States in. Along with eccentric touches like an asymmetrical rear window and a refrigerator-style rear door, the Cube offers a versatile interior, a comfortable ride and a long list of standard equipment.
First introduced in Japan in 1998, the cube finally made its way to the U.S. in 2009. It features a love-it or hate-it look highlighted by ovoid-style side windows and plenty of blocky cues.
Despite the little vehicle's emphasis on style, it makes no sacrifices in terms of interior functionality. The large windows provide excellent sightlines and an airy feel, there's plenty of space up front and the rear seat features a three-position sliding and reclining theater-style configuration. Unique cabin features include asymmetrical Fine Vision gauges, "Water Drop" interior accents and detachable multi-hooks.
The cube falls a bit short on interior space with the rear seats in position, offering just 11 cubic feet. Fold the rear perch down, however, and stowage space increases to a sizable 58 cubic feet.
Motivation comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 122 horsepower and 127 lb-ft. A six-speed manual comes standard, while a CVT (continuously variable transmission) can also be had. Fuel economy is a middling 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway with the stick, while opting for the CVT increases efficiency slightly to 27/31 mpg.
The suspension is tuned for a comfortable ride, which it delivers, while handling is safe rather than sporty. Its compact dimensions make parking the cube in the city an easy task, and a 33.4-foot turning radius means fewer three-point turns are needed.
Trim Level Breakdown
For the latest model year, Nissan has trimmed the Cube lineup down to just the S and SL trim levels. The Cargo Version Package was also taken off the options list.
The Cube S comes standard with air conditioning, power windows and locks, an AM/FM/CD/aux stereo system with an iPod interface and Bluetooth connectivity, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, and 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps.
The Cube SL adds the CVT as standard fare in addition to a navigation system, a smart key with push-button ignition, 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control and automatic headlights.
All models get a 'PUREDRIVE' badge on the cargo door. As for the available body colors, Sapphire Slate replaces Golden Ginger.
All Cube models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
An asymmetrical alternative to the rest of the subcompact segment, Nissan's cube faces stiff competition from traditional offerings like the Honda Fit, Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback, the Ford Fiesta hatchback, the Kia Soul and even Nissan's Juke, albeit to a lesser extent.