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2011 Nissan Juke Review: Wurlitzer or Seeburg?


Wurlitzer or Seeburg?  Nissan's Juke Plays for Pint-Size SUV Market

With a nod to the Happy Day's infamous Seeburg, Nissan's Juke is part malt-shop wonder topped by a dollop of 50's lizard thriller Godzilla.  Under its front lid resides a 1.6-liter direct-injection turbocharged I-4.  With 188 hp, it's intended to rev toward the top of mini crossover's play list.  Other choices: the Suzuki (SX4), Subaru (Impreza) and perhaps the Mini (Countryman).

Like a jukebox, this one's a light show.  The front end's got two large round lamps underneath two upper tier eyebrows.  There's more jet-age Seeburg than big-band Wurlitzer in this mini Rouge warrior.  Nissan's brand managers believe its standout appearance will make you look; then insert your hard-earned change.

This cute UTE, rides atop Renault-Nissan's ubiquitous X85 platform (Cube, Versa).  Torque vectoring all-wheel-drive is optional.  That and the premium-fueled engine should spiritedly spin four rubber-wrapped side-mounted turntables.

My brief as a 45-rpm pop-song fling revealed that the Juke's mill thrashes.  It churns a continuously variable transmission (standard with AWD), which zaps performance.  Road manners:  select normal, sport and eco.  While this mechanical setup won't top the autocross chart, it climbs curbs without snagging the undercarriage.

Light gray interior plastics were cheerful-not the sallow pieces seen inside other Nissan compacts.  And the center tunnel is colorfully topped like a motorcycle's gas tank.  Due to the Juke's cozy contours interior space is tight.  Cargo room is stubby.   Nissan claims an EPA 27 mpg city/ 32 highway rating.  That's for the front-drive version that starts at $20,000.

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