An outlier in the U.S. market, the 2013 Nissan Cube attempts to push our limits of what's fashionable and aesthetically appealing--and whether this is to good end depends on your tastes.
Even compared to the other "small-box" vehicles like the Scion xB and Kia Soul, the Cube will make you turn and take notice. It's definitely the most unusual of the group; but if you need a healthy dose of practicality and the styling hits the right buttons, it does pack in a lot of boldness and usefulness.
With its headlights set wide apart, accentuating a tough stance, combined with a rounded snout and horizontal lines widening the grille opening, the Cube was designed for a so-called "Bulldog in Sunglasses" look--which, we agree, might take some squinting to imagine. But the Cube does remain faithful to its name; with nearly vertical sides and rear styling that's about as upright as it gets, the Cube makes much of a small space.
Just as you start to liken the Cube to a little bread van, you'll probably see where the real weirdness comes in. To start, it's not symmetrical; a side-hinged rear hatch opens to the left side, breaking a rear window line that curves uninterrupted and continuously around the right rear corner of the vehicle, and up along the side to the pillar between the front and rear doors. And the framed windows have a bevel designed into the sheetmetal, with the middle side pillar tapering to accent that effect.
There's more oddness inside the Cube; the "Casual Lounge" theme layers the curves of a Jacuzzi tub (or is it a 1970s conversion van) over a surprisingly practical and functional layout. The instrument panel is rounded and recessed, wrapping through into the door panels, with carve-outs for the front seat occupants and water-ripple lines everywhere. Trim pieces and other accents are oval-shaped, and you can place an optional piece of artificial grass into a depression in the center of the dash. At the least, it's not a feature you'll find in any other new vehicle.