Sized more like the latter vehicle, the 2009 Cube bears the asymmetrical styling of the boxy Nissan that first bowed in Japan a decade ago. The new Cube is about 157 inches long on a wheelbase of 99.6 inches, and the concept is still pretty much identical to that of the xB and Element--tall wagon done funky.
Nissan calls the styling “witty,” with large windows that are supposed to frame occupants like pictures, and a big wraparound rear window. Inside, the cabin is patterned after a Jacuzzi--no joke.
The powertrain for the Cube is shared with the current Nissan Versa; a 122-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder is mated to either a continuously variable transmission or a six-speed manual gearbox. The steering system is electrically operated, and the suspension is a fairly basic independent strut front with a torsion-beam rear axle.
The skylight, roof shade, and comfy seat cushions contribute to a lounge-like atmosphere. Big door openings make access easy, and the rear seats are raised theater-style. Nissan says it will seat five passengers, and that the rear bench slides and reclines for happy rear-seat passengers.
Safety equipment for the Cube includes curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, and brake assist. There’s also stability control and tire pressure monitors.
Fifteen-inch wheels are standard, as are a system of detachable hook holders inside coupled to “Magic Rubber Bands” to hold down cargo. Power windows, keyless entry and a nifty set of gauges are included, too. Options include Intelligent Key with push button start; Bluetooth; satellite radio; an iPod interface; and a Rockford Fosgate speaker system. The Cube goes on sale in the spring of 2009.
MORE PHOTOS: 2009 Nissan Cube