New & Used Nissan Cube: In Depth
2014 Nissan CubeEnlarge Photo
Among the tall wagons on the market, the Nissan Cube was always the oddest and quirkiest. It never succeeded at competing successfully against the Kia Soul, the tall-wagon champion, or the Scion xB--the car that invented the category--but the Cube offered a decent price tag, efficiency, and a surprisingly roomy interior. It made a good city car, if you could get past its polarizing design.
Sadly, it appears not enough buyers could do so, and the Cube was withdrawn from the U.S. market after the 2014 model year. It ran for seven years, starting in 2008, but total sales were just a fraction of the Soul's total, and Nissan decided to focus its resources elsewhere.
The final version of the Cube was one of the few models on the market with truly asymmetrical exterior styling. Its side profile is somewhat conventional, with slab sides, a vertical tail, and only beveled window corners to offset its square lines. But go around to the rear, and you'll notice that not only is the rear fifth door side-hinged, but the radical window line has one side that wraps continuously around the corner of the Cube--while the other is interrupted with a thick metal pillar.
Inside, the quirks continued, with a flowing dashboard shape (supposedly) modeled after a Jacuzzi whirlpool tub that featured a flat central panel on top. It was promoted as a place to put a small oval tray of grass, or its synthetic equivalent--a feature found on no other car offered for sale in the U.S.. Not quite a van, not really a crossover, perhaps closest to a compact hatchback--though it doesn't look like one thanks to the asymmetry at the rear--the Nissan Cube remained a relatively rare car on U.S. roads.The quirks didn't keep the Cube from being a functionally useful vehicle. It didn't quite hit the supreme utility of uber-boxes like the old Honda Element, but the upright lines let four adults sit tall in comfort inside. The front seats in particular were more comfortable than those of most small cars, and that side-opening rear door--along with the low cargo floor--let the Cube swallow a lot of cargo. Regrettably, the rear seat-back never folded flat, leaving the forward end of the load floor raised.
While the Cube held the road well, its soft ride produced plenty of body roll if you hurled it around corners. It kept its poise in turns, but there was always a lot of body roll. And because it's short and narrow, but tall, rough surfaces produced a fair amount of bobbing--and left it more susceptible to side winds than many other vehicles in the class.
The single engine was a 122-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder paired to either a good six-speed manual gearbox or Nissan's continuously variable transmission (CVT). The performance let Nissan's box merge into fast-flowing traffic with either option.
The Nissan Cube's low price--it started at less than $15,000--didn't preclude a decent set of standard features: power windows and air conditioning were standard on every model, and in 2013, a passenger-seat center armrest joined the one for the driver's seat. There was also the usual array of electronic safety systems, including electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes.
The Cube didn't changed significantly after 2009. For 2013, Nissan added a new package for the 1.8 S CVT model that include a rear-view monitor, a navigation system, an Intelligent key, 15-inch alloy wheels, and a better Rockford Fosgate audio system. Nissan deleted the Krom model in the 2012 model year, and the entry-level Cube 1.8 and 1.8 S Indigo Limited Edition versions followed the next year, as did the Cargo Version package.