All Nissan Cubes come with a 122 horsepower (making 127 lbs feet or
torque) 1.8-liter DOHC 16-valve, 4-cylinder engine. That’s not too
shabby considering the 2,700 – 2,900 lbs weight. 0 to 60 times were
about 10 seconds flat at 5,200 feet with the 6-speed manual (so I would
expect around 9ish at lower altitude) and just under 10 seconds at
nearly sea level with the CVT. Despite the slow times, the engine has
some spunk and moves smartly through traffic. The CVT surprised me here
as the engine never dropped to a low, performance usurping rpm.
Gas mileage is impressive for a vehicle with the drag coefficient of a
boxcar. Nissan estimates 24 mpg city/ 29 mpg highway with the 6-speed
manual and 28 mpg city / 30 mpg highway with the CVT. I averaged 22 mpg
while driving criminally recklessly at over 5,200 feet with the manual.
Not too shabby.
Brakes are quite good giving an average of 125 feet stopping distance from 60 to 0 mph.
Handling is a simple affair. A rather basic independent strut front
suspension with a (VERY basic) torsion beam rear suspension keeps basic
maneuvers trouble free. Treat the Cube as if you’re wearing a leather
mask, boots and wielding a whip – – it will not be pleased. If
immediacy and cornering prowess is your desire, look elsewhere.
Steering feel is light at best and drivers will be hard-pressed to gain
tactile knowledge of the road through any part of the Cube. Still, in
tight traffic and regular commuting duty, the Nissan Cube is a snap to
There is a hint of road noise – easily drowned out with the nice stereo system.
Most impressive is the sheer volume this thing holds. Fold the rear
seats down and you get 58.1 cubic feet of cargo space. Seating is
comfortable all around and there is a great deal of head space. I found
the interior simple and less gimmicky than competing Scions and Kia
Souls. One thing that looked completely out of place was the rather
silly looking, rippled headliner.
Another issue I had was with the lack of a telescoping steering
adjustment. I feel it’s a safety enhancement that all vehicles should
be equipped with – period. My micro-sized siblings can easily reach the
pedals and steering wheel comfortably. Unfortunately, big apes like me
struggle finding a comfortable seating/steering tradeoff.
My gut told me that this is a fine little vehicle – but I struggled to
find its customer base. Cubes like the Scion xB work for small families
while the Kia Soul is somewhat youthful in its design. As I passed a
high school and retirement home near Rancho Cucamonga, it dawned on me…
Ah-HA! Hippies & Deadheads AND grandparents would LOVE this car!
- Grandparents would love the supremely easy ingress and egress.
- Hippies & Deadheads would dig all the nooks and crannies for storing munchies and whatnot.
- Grandparents would like the ease of placing bingo chips, walkers, oxygen tanks and cat carriers in the Cube.
- Hippies & Deadheads would love the no hassle driving.
Grandparents would love the loads of passenger space when driving
friends to their favorite religious institution’s recreation hall.
Hippies & Deadheads would dig the space their bongos and acoustic
guitars (or mandolins) are given even when the Cube is loaded with
brothers, sisters and someone’s “Old Lady.” Lots of room for picket
Grandparents will most likely enjoy the easy slow moving maneuvering
ability as they chase Communists and long-haired Hippies off their
- Hippies & Deadheads will like the get-up-and-go when fleeing from cranky elders or “The Man.”
Grandparents would love the wide swinging rear door and ease of cargo
access – even if the rear door swings so wide it bangs the car parked
behind the Cube.
- Hippies & Deadheads would love the idea that there is enough room to lean back and sleep “it” off.
Grandparents would like the ease of outward vision (this thing is a
breeze to park). Especially when using the physically disabled parking
pass they “borrowed” from a friend.
Hippies & Deadheads would snicker as they gazed glassy-eyed at the
Nissan Cube and say, “It totally looks like a bulldog wearing
sunglasses!” (Which it is supposed to).
- Grandparents would mumble, “Oooh, it looks like Pat Boone with sunglasses!” (Which it is not supposed to look like).
- Hippies & Deadheads would like the huge buttons and easy to work stereo (come to think of it… so would old folks).
Odd – Nissan managed to build a vehicle that appeals to young-ish and old-ish alike.
Good for you Nissan!
Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car
sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out
of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to
enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his examiner.com
page HERE. Photos by: N.D.