What has shag carpet, dance club lights and colored accessories? No, not Studio 54 … the Cube.
Not one for super trendy cars that lose their appeal within a few years, I was skeptical to even think that driving this around for a week would be enjoyable. Was I ever wrong. The Cube has won Automobile’s Design of the Year, a Top Safety pick by IIHS and KBB finds it in their top 10 Coolest Cars Under $18k Category, so why wouldn’t I develop a slight liking to this car?
The Nissan Cube has a starting price of $13,990. With the fully loaded Krom edition topping out at under $22,000, the consumer has plenty of options to flex. Our Cube SL came with a MSRP of $17,130 and with options came in just over the $20,000 mark. The 1.8 liter DOHC only provides a measly 122 horsepower and, as my oldest son determined, sounds like a boat launching when floored. And the Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) took me longer than a week to get accustomed to. Am I the only one who thinks they are just a little weird?
Point is, there will be no speedy dashes to the finish line in the Cube. It beats walking and has more zip on the bottom end then from a dead stop, but you can’t hold much to such a small engine — but it tries hard, I will give it that. Less zip does mean there will be fewer trips to the gas station. In my week of driving all over creation I managed to put over 500 miles on the Cube on one tank of gas. With a 13.2 tank, that means I averaged right under 40mpg. For the girl who likes to wait until empty no longer flashes a number, I was thoroughly pleased when I didn’t have to stop once.
It could aldo stop on a dime and handled rather well considering it really does resemble a box on wheels. A minor near-death experience brought on by an elderly man who clearly didn’t see our black mass as it moved stealthily down the road quickly avoided disaster, but had me laughing in tears at the sound of the horn. Seriously, it’s a MEEP at best.
From the outside, there really isn’t much visual space taken up by this small station wagon. A turning radius that would put a go-kart to shame and able to fit into half a parking spot, the Cube brings the itty to the bitty. A friendly front end sporting automatic on/off halogen headlights and a somewhat seamless rear with minimal make up for a cute little car. At just a little over 13 feet in length and 5.5 feet wide, you question just how comfortable the interior could possibly be with such limited space. Side, front and roof air bags, front seat active head restraints, 3-point ELR/ALR seat belts for all 5 passengers, front and rear crumple zones earned the Cube 4 and 5 star crash ratings. A list of acronyms includes TCS, VDC, TPMS, EBD, BA, and ABS. Just like a book, you shouldn’t judge the Cube by its cover.
With the expansive amount of glass providing a clear view from every possibly angle, more than generous leg room for all passengers and quite the amount of headroom, the Cube manages to convince you that you are not riding in a clown car. Cargo space was another story. Our test model came equipped with the rear cargo organizer ($180), which provided two locking compartments that can store items normally kept in the car while still leaving the small space above for whatever you may decide to squish back there. Not even a foot deep, storage could pose a problem, but with the seats flat you managed to find yourself with just short of 5 feet of space. However, the seats do not lay flat for some reason, so though the Cube appears made to deliver goods, it’s just not going to happen.
Even with no center console, compartments and cup holders were a-plenty, with a total of six cup and five water bottle holders to give you endless places to store your keys, phone and mp3 player. A 6-way driver side seat with height adjuster and 4-way passenger seat allow for you to get comfy. The only weird option I couldn’t figure out was that the driver side seat had an armrest but the passenger did not, leaving their left arm to just dangle the distance between the seat and floor. Rear seating provided enough support for adults to ride comfortably and the head room remained ample.
The interior does not appear cheap or thrown together, but made just for the Cube. Premium grade seat fabric, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise and mounted controls, Bluetooth hands-free system, speed sensitive volume control, automatic temperature control conditioner, power windows and door locks are just a few of the standard features in the Cube.
The dash has a curvy stance, but in a simple, organized fashion. No faux carbon fiber or abundance of the trendy nickel accents, Nissan got it just right when it came to matching the interior to the exterior. The oval gauge display mimics the oval shapes embossed in the headliner, rectangular radio, and round air condition controls make up all there is to the dash.
The SL preferred package ($1600) includes the Nissan Intelligent Key that replaces the remote keyless entry, push button ignition, fog lights, premium AM/FM/CD audio system with a 4.3″ color display, XM satellite radio, USB audio connectivity, rear view monitor and 6 upgraded speakers with Rockford Fosgate subwoofer that provided the umph through the speakers. The optional interior illumination package ($490) provided stainless steel illuminated kick plates and 20-color interior accent lighting that depending on your mood or music could change with just a twist of a knob. My favorite was green but the options were endless. The interior designer package ($230) included plush floor mats, a cargo area mat, front door bungees and a random shag dash topper. I wasn’t quite sure what purpose it served, but it was a conversation piece none the less with each person who took a look inside. Same for the door bungees that came in a combination of colors that you could switch to your liking. With the changing lights and colored bungees, it was appropriate that there was plenty of techno playing during my travels, putting me back in that Raver mode as the Cube was seemingly geared towards. Or was it people who like to accessorize their cars in odd ways? Either way, it didn’t bother me, since there was no purpose served for either.
Overall, I appreciated what the Cube has to offer. It led me to think inside a box but I won’t ever call one my own.