Options to gasoline-powered vehicles may seem to abound but purchasing one still eludes many. Hybrids accounted for less than three percent of all new car sales in 2008 and according to www.hybridcars.com, sales of hybrids in 2009 are expected to remain flat.
While Nissan readies its electric vehicle, the Leaf, for a U.S. intro next year, the manufacturer has already produced some affordably priced and fuel-efficient vehicles. One of the newest and most unique in its segment is the Nissan Cube.
I recently drove the Cube Krom, a specially equipped trim level and one of four. Its distinctive asymmetrical body caught more than one passerby’s eye. It’s best feature, however, is the EPA estimated fuel economy rating of 28 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
As basic transportation goes, the Cube stands apart, inside and out. One of many boxy alternatives, e.g. Scion xB , the Cube features a greenhouse (the section between the roof and the beltline) with organically shaped windows, including a wraparound side/rear window. For added versatility and originality, the back door opens to the side rather than lift up.
The Cube Krom, adds a three-bar chrome grille, two-bar chrome front bumper grille, fully integrated front and rear fascias, body side sills, unique rear roof spoiler, exclusive 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and Krom rear emblem.
Inside, however, is where the Cube really wows. Next to the Mini Cooper, the Cube’s interior displays one unique design cue after another. A water ring pattern appears on the ceiling the speaker covers, and drink holders.
The Krom includes a light switch to select the interior lighting pattern--colors and rhythm—and black and grey woven cloth seats. Interesting accessories include colorful rubber straps (red, yellow, orange or silver) that slip into cutouts on the door armrests to secure items, such as maps or towels, and a circular shag rug to accentuate the dashboard.
The rear seats are spilt 60/40 and can fold flat but they don’t fold into the floor leaving a limited and awkward flat surface, with wells in the front and back.
A standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 122 horsepower and matched to a smooth shifting Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission powered the Cube Krom I drove. A six-speed manual transmission is also available but only on the base S model. Power is adequate but what is more noticeable is the lack of excessive wind noise, unlike at least one of its competitors.
Although not exclusively built for first-time car buyers, i.e. teens, it was definitely built with them in mind. Carrying such precious cargo, the Cube comes equipped with a healthy list of standard features including side impact and roof-mounted airbags, Active Head Restraints, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System , Vehicle Dynamic Control with a Traction Control System along with an Anti-lock Braking System, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and Brake Assist.
Standard creature comforts include air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo with a CD player, remote keyless entry and power doors and locks. The Cube Krom adds the Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and an upgraded audio system with six speakers and Rockford Fosgate subwoofer.
Earning a Low Emission Vehicle rating according to California emissions standards, the 2009 Nissan Cube comes in the following versions, Cube 1.8, Cube 1.8 S, Cube 1.8 SL and Cube 1.8 Krom.
Pricing for the Cube starts at $13,990. The price of the Cube Krom, as tested, was $20,420.
Until we can all afford to go green, going fuel efficient in a small or compact low emission vehicle can be done by most.
For more information: Get Current Green Car Ratings