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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
Ample juice on tap, so we never felt ourselves wanting more power
Available CVT...that's the best example of this gearless technology fitted to an economy car
Refinement is spoiled by the bouncy ride
Performance is definitely not the 2009 Nissan Cube's forte—for that, you should look more toward style and price. However, the Nissan 2009 Cube does offer decent fuel economy and good stopping power, as well as standard stability control to keep you out of trouble.
The 2009 Nissan Cube is available with just one engine, and thankfully it's not the skimpy 1.4-liter version that sits under the hood of the Japanese-spec Nissan Cube. It's still not large or powerful, though, as Autoblog states that the Nissan Cube comes with "the same 122-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder featured in the Nissan Versa" that they feel is "an able motivator for the 2,795-pound Cube." Other reviews read by TheCarConnection.com agree that the engine is capable enough, even though its pure acceleration numbers are far from spectacular. Road & Track calls the engine "peppy," while Motor Trend reports that, "on the freeway, it reaches highway speeds easily." In terms of acceleration from a stop, Motor Trend records "a 0-to-60 sprint of 9.3 sec" during its tests of the Nissan 2009 Cube.
The Nissan Cube's four-cylinder engine pairs up with "your choice of a 6-speed manual gearbox or CVT automatic transmission," according to Road & Track reviewers. Both transmissions rate surprisingly high with reviewers, especially considering that economy-car transmissions tend (appropriately) toward the low end. Autoblog attests that the "manual's shift action is easy, if a smudge on the notchy side, and the overall driving experience is free of drama." Edmunds offers even higher praise for the CVT, claiming that the Nissan Cube's CVT is "the best example of this gearless transmission technology fitted to an economy car."
Fuel economy tends to be a major concern for those shopping in the Nissan Cube's price range, and EPA ratings for the Cube probably won't scare away too many consumers. According to Motor Trend reviewers, "the EPA estimated fuel economy is 28 city/30 highway mpg," which doesn't match up to the class leaders but is still very respectable.
The Nissan Cube is designed as more of a social accessory than a fun runabout, and it certainly shows when you get behind the wheel. Jalopnik succinctly states that the 2009 Nissan Cube "just isn't at all enjoyable to drive," and Autoblog cautions not to "look for sportiness here—you're barking up the wrong tree." Edmunds adds that the "handling is rather lazy due to its soft, long-travel suspension." The steering draws quite a few complaints from reviewers, especially at Autoblog, where they report that the "steering effort is super-light and super-assisted, and steering feel is more a theoretical concept than it is an actual sensation." On the positive side, Motor Trend says, "from 60 mph, the Cube took 125 ft to reach a full stop—not bad considering the rear drum brakes."
The 2009 Nissan Cube rides comfortably from point A to point B, but it won't get you there in a hurry.