2014 Nissan Juke Review

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Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
August 11, 2014

The 2014 Nissan Juke is part oddball, part exotic, and part awesomely different (although not all that practical) small car.

The 2014 Nissan Juke is one of the more unusual cars on the market today, a genre-bender that blends a portion of adventurous urban crossover with a pinch of unusual performance car, seasoned with many dollops of wild-style design verging on modern sculpture. It occupies a unique segment: While it's nominally a subcompact hatchback with optional all-wheel drive, it's the in-your-face looks and available Nismo RC hot-hatch performance model that make it appealing to diverse buyers.

Now in its fifth year, the Juke's almost concept-like exterior still seems futuristic. The shape is certainly polarizing, yet it's gained this model a cadre of loyal and passionate followers who enjoy its unlikely design to the point that they might not consider any other car. Some may see it as a tall and uncomfortably quirky economy car--until they learn about its sub-par gas mileage ratings--but others treasure it because they view as a racy, performance-oriented hot hatch that also offers crossover capabilities.

Is it a crossover permanently hamstrung by a teensy cockpit and a stiff, almost sportscar ride? Or is it a far more practical take on what the younger set wants in a coupe? It's really all of the above, and the contradictions keep coming when you focus on how it drives. Under the hood there's a 188-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with either front- or all-wheel drive, and a choice of manual or continuously variable (CVT) transmissions. You'd think this powertrain would yield a quick little urban runabout, yet it's oddly ponderous--and rather noisy. Likewise, gas mileage isn't anything to beam about, at 27 mpg city and 32 mpg highway at best.

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Handling redeems the package, somewhat; the relatively light weight, rapid steering, and firm suspension combine to give the Juke a sporty feel. However a rather hard ride and a suspension that bounds and bounces at times make this an acquired taste, if at all, for daily commuters. The all-wheel drive here isn't really for performance and handling, rather for all-weather traction--which isn't this model's forte anyhow so we recommend you skip it. And going with AWD means you have to accept the CVT.

For 2014, anyone who wants to get the most performance in this unapologetically bold package should get the Juke NISMO. In addition to a 197-hp specially tuned version of the engine, the NISMO Juke adds nearly 100 other revised components, including a specially tuned suspension, more downforce, more aggressively bolstered sport seats, and exclusive lightweight 18-inch alloys.

The Juke's subcompact proportions and urban sensibilities are surely assets with respect to parking and maneuverability, but inside there's less space than you might think. Front seats have a nice, upright driving position despite the somewhat confined quarters, but in back space is extremely tight even for two (officially there are three seating positions). Those back seats are probably best left folded down--to 35.9 cubic feet of cargo space. Overall, we find the interior to be price-appropriate

In the instrument panel's center stack is the so-called I-CON control system, which lets you choose the attitude for steering boost, throttle response, and CVT behavior (if so equipped) to either improve fuel economy or make it more responsive. Climate controls are changed with the same screen. Overall materials and design are sharp and modern, with price-appropriate finishes. Shiny, color-shifting seat upholstery looks a bit cartoonish; and while the plastics and switches across the dash and console are intelligently designed, but can feel a bit cheap.

Base Juke S models are essentially well-equipped small cars. But stepping up to the mid-range Juke SV, you'll take advantage of some of the better features, including a moonroof; push-button start; satellite radio; the I-CON system; automatic temperature control; and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The SV also includes a rearview camera system. The top-trim Juke is the SL, which adds navigation; leather-trimmed seats; and an 8-inch Rockford Fosgate subwoofer with six upgraded speakers.

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2014 Nissan Juke

Styling

Some will approve, some will consider it an eyesore; in any case, the 2014 Nissan Juke turns heads.

The Nissan Juke lives up to its name. It's weird; it's small; and it's clearly an outlier in the automotive landscape. The Juke's almost concept-like exterior still seems futuristic. The shape is certainly polarizing, yet it's gained this model a cadre of loyal followers who enjoy its unlikely design.

The look of the Juke is all hips and bulges, swells and angles. It could even be called cartoonish. The tall, swooped fenders up front, the low-mounted headlights, blade-like turn signals, the predatory grille. Inside, it's more of the same with motorcycle-inspired gauges and shiny nylon upholstery.

But despite these odd choices on Nissan's part, there are many who love the Juke's look. It's irreverent, alternative, funky, and futuristic. There's an element of alien or insect organic inspiration throughout, at times edging up to superhero-like self-parody.

Inside, the Juke is a bit shiny, verging on gimmicky, with ccolor-shifting seat upholstery that looks a bit cartoonish; and while the plastics and switches across the dash and console are intelligently designed, it's not nearly as practical as the cabin of a Kia Soul or Fiat 500L.

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2014 Nissan Juke

Performance

The Juke lives up to its name, in being sportier to drive than most other small crossovers--especially in high-performance NISMO form.

Is it a crossover permanently hamstrung by a teensy cockpit and a stiff, almost sportscar ride? Or is it a far more practical take on what the younger set wants in a coupe? It's really both, and the oxymorons keep coming in full-on, bi-polar fashion when you focus on how it drives.

Under the hood there's a 188-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with either front- or all-wheel drive, and a choice of manual or continuously variable (CVT) transmissions. You'd think this powertrain would yield a quick little urban runabout, yet it's oddly ponderous--and rather noisy.

Both transmission variants (in SL and SV models) come with the I-CON adjustable steering and transmission response system, which offers Eco (sluggish), Normal (well, normal), and Sport (which actually feels sporty). Sport mode raises the idle speed, reduces turbo lag, and sharpens steering, but it takes a bite out of the Juke's already somewhat lackluster fuel economy.

But what about that all-wheel drive system? It's not really meant for off-loading (or even soft-roading); in fact, it's barely suited to a steep driveway covered in snow. Instead, it's a performance option for street use, bringing with it independent rear suspension instead of the front-drive model's torsion-beam rear. That would make it the enthusiast's choice despite the added weight, complexity, and cost--except that it means you can't get the six-speed manual transmission at all, as it's only available in front-drive Jukes.

Handling redeems the package, somewhat; the relatively light weight, rapid steering, and firm suspension combine to give the Juke a sporty feel. However a rather hard ride and a suspension that bounds and bounces at times make this an acquired taste, if at all, for daily commuters. The all-wheel drive here isn't really for performance and handling, rather for all-weather traction--which isn't this model's forte anyhow so we recommend you skip it. And going with AWD means you have to accept the CVT.

For 2014, anyone who wants to get the most performance in this unapologetically bold package should get the Juke NISMO. In addition to a 197-hp specially tuned version of the engine, the NISMO Juke adds nearly 100 other revised components, including a specially tuned suspension, more downforce, more aggressively bolstered sport seats, and exclusive lightweight 18-inch alloys.

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2014 Nissan Juke

Comfort & Quality

Not even four people will fit comfortably; and there's not much cargo space either. Think more practical than a coupe, but less so than most other crossovers.

Subcompact proportions and urban sensibilities are surely assets with respect to parking and maneuverability, but inside the 2014 Juke there's less space than you might think.

The Nissan Juke is part subcompact hatchback or a pint-sized crossover? It's both, in a way, but the combination isn't as magical as you might hope.

The high driving position is nice, giving the Juke a commanding view of the road not common in cars of similar size. On the other hand, the small exterior dimensions translate to small interior dimensions that can leave you feeling cramped.

Front seats have a nice, upright driving position despite the somewhat confined quarters, but in back space is extremely tight even for two (officially there are three seating positions). Front seats are pretty fair for the Juke's size, with a height and backrest adjustable driver's seat, though again head and knee room aren't abundant, but merely adequate.

The back seats are probably best left folded down--to 35.9 cubic feet of cargo space. They can hold a pair of six-foot passengers, but not comfortably. Part of the issue is that they're a touch too high, leaving headroom at a premium; knee room is okay, but just barely, even with the front seats slid forward; if you opt for the sunroof, you'll lose even more headroom.

Flip down the rear seat and you'll get considerably more space, but still only about half of the volume you'll find in the Honda Fit. Leaving the rear seats in place, cargo room is just 10.5 cubic feet, which is a touch smaller than a typical sedan's trunk.

The trim and materials in the cabin are a highlight, however, though they don't always quite hit the mark: shiny, color-shifting seat upholstery looks a bit cartoonish, but at the same time cool; the headliner feels just like what it is, namely, felt-covered cardboard; the plastics and switches across the dash and console are intelligently designed, but can feel a bit cheap. For a subcompact at a fairly affordable price point, it's appropriate.

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2014 Nissan Juke

Safety

The Nissan Juke has a solid safety set, but its crash-test ratings point out some potential issues.

Standard safety equipment on the 2014 Nissan Juke includes the usual complement of gear: dual front airbags, side airbags, and side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control and stability control; as well as tire-pressure monitors that sound the horn when a tire is low.

The Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the Juke its top 'good' rating in all categories of testing—except for the new small overlap frontal test, for which it hasn't yet been tested.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) scores the 2014 Juke just three stars in frontal crash tests, and four stars overall.

The NHTSA does give the Juke a top mark of five stars in side-impact crashworthiness, however, and four stars in rollover resistance. The IIHS' Top Safety Pick designation carries with it top marks in front, rear, side, and rollover crash testing.

Driving the Juke, rearward visibility is better than you might expect based on its short side windows and thick rear pillars. The small rear window gives a good view of what's following on the road, but in close quarters, the new rearview monitor included in navigation-equipped SV models can be very helpful.
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2014 Nissan Juke

Features

The 2014 Nissan Juke is an exciting value, but it's made even better if you have some extra budget for add-ons.

Although the 2014 Nissan Juke remains on the edge in terms of styling, packaging, and performance, it forgets about its funky form factor with respect to features. 

Our one caution is that you'll want to watch the bottom line, as it can grow as the extras add up.

Base Juke S models are essentially well-equipped small cars and come with 17-inch wheels, an AM/FM/CD sound system with auxiliary input and Bluetooth; power locks, mirrors, and windows; keyless entry; and a split-folding 60/40 rear seat.

Stepping up to the mid-range Juke SV, you'll take advantage of some of the better features, including a moonroof; push-button start; satellite radio; the I-CON system; automatic temperature control; and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The SV also includes a rearview camera system. The top-trim Juke is the SL, which adds navigation; leather-trimmed seats; and an 8-inch Rockford Fosgate subwoofer with six upgraded speakers.

Optional extras include torque-vectoring all-wheel drive (though if you choose AWD, you'll have to take the CVT transmission that comes with it); on lower-tier models, navigation; USB input; and upgraded stereo options.

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2014 Nissan Juke

Fuel Economy

Considering its compact dimensions, gas mileage for the 2014 Nissan Juke isn't anything to speak highly of.

The 2014 Nissan Juke isn't, strictly speaking, bad on gas mileage. It's just that it's not very good, either, especially in the real world.

While the EPA rates the Juke at up to 32 mpg highway and 27 mpg city (in front-drive, CVT trim), the manual model scores just 25/31 mpg and the all-wheel-drive Juke rates 25/30 mpg.

In real-world experience with the Juke, we've seen average figures around 24-27 mpg in daily driving. That's well below the 27-29 mpg combined EPA rating, and not particularly strong performance for a subcompact with a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder engine.

Yes, the Juke is sporty, performance-oriented, and a bit more eager than your typical small car; but with the number of vehicles earning EPA Combined numbers in the mid 30s, the Juke is definitely thirstier than average.

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June 18, 2016
2014 Nissan Juke 5-Door Wagon CVT SV AWD

Great car, great price plus it has omph like you read about, that is to say, it really goes!

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It has everything you could possibly want in a car and fortunately the things do not distract your attention from the road. For example when the manufacturers moved some of the critical items from the dash to... + More »
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January 24, 2016
2014 Nissan Juke 5-Door Wagon CVT SL AWD

dead battery that had to be replaced already

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battery had to be replaced already, and was told it was caused from not driving it enough which is ridiculous for we have owned several vechicles and never had this problem, very upset
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Styling 6.0
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Safety 8.0
Features 7.0
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