Driving the sporty 2013 JUKE Crossover SUV recently, we discovered what many had told us - the snappy driving JUKE with its super performing standard 1.6-liter Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) Turbocharged 16-valve DOHC 4-cylinder engine delivering 188 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque through the solid performing Nissan six-speed manual transmission - it goes like a rocket.
Adding the, new for 2013, Midnight Edition Package to this already sophisticated and bold beauty adds unique 17-inch Black Wheels, a Sapphire Black rear roof spoiler, and Sapphire Black mirror caps to make this low profile, distinctively styled crossover SUV look every bit as snappy as it goes.
Our test car was a 2013 Nissan JUKE SL FWD (Front Wheel Drive) with Manual Transmission in Pearl White exterior with a black interior.
The base MSRP was shown as $24,000. Optional items included JUKE Carpet Mats ($180), Center Armrest ($245) and the Midnight Edition Package (available on all trim levels) for $1,200, making this very well equipped JUKE's delivered price $26,405.
Standard equipment on our 2013 JUKE included the 1.6-liter turbocharged power plant and six-speed manual transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, Power Sliding Roof, Power-Assisted Front and Rear Anti-lock Brakes (ABS), Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Vehicle-speed-sensing Electric Power-assisted Steering (EPS), Halogen Headlights with Automatic On/Off, Manual Folding Power Outside Mirrors, Fog Lamps, Rear Privacy Glass, Rear Liftgate with Intermittent Wiper, MacPherson Strut Front Suspension, Torsion Beam Rear Suspension and Front and Rear Stabilizer Bars - all designed and integrated to facilitate a sporty driving experience.
Inside, the Nissan styling and attention to detail shows boldly throughout. The choice of interior surface materials in both tactile surfaces, color shading and graining are high quality with the interior lines designed to enhance the appearance of the treatments. The trim details around the vents, the shifter, the stack and the doors are a subtle metal finish highlighting the styling of each element.
A feature worth noting is the "floating" hood over the instrument cluster that highlights the sophisticated design lines across the dash while effectively shielding the cluster from outside lights.
Interior features included the leather appointed, very supportive (including bolsters) Heated Bucket Seating with six-way manual adjust for the driver and four-way for the passenger and Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel with Cruise and Audio Controls.
Rear seating is said to be for three, but it would be a bit tight for "real" size people. Two is more like it. Seats are 60/40 Split Fold-Down to extend the rear cargo deck up to the front seating. An additional nice feature is storage under the floor in the back seat row.
A very driver friendly unique element of the JUKE interior is the Integrated Control (I-CON) system drive mode selector, with a bright and easy to read display screen, which offers three different throttle/transmission/steering response settings – Normal for everyday driving, Sport for a more intense performance feel and Eco for maximum efficiency.
Personally, as you might guess, I always gravitate to the Sport mode to enhance the driver experience.
On the manual transmission version, it adjusts steering feel for more precise performance and also serves as a central command center and display module, adopting different display colors and functions depending on how it is being used.
In Climate mode, the display shows the interior temperature settings while the “buttons” display air flow preferences. In “D-Mode,” the buttons change to the three driving modes and the display shows engine- and drive-related dials and information.
Technology in our 2013 JUKE included AM/FM/CD Audio System with six speakers, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System and Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Start.
This test car also included the Navigation Package in the base MSRP which added the Nissan Navigation System with bright 5-inch color touch screen display, NavTraffic through SiriusXM, Rockford Fosgate ecoPUNCH with powered subwoofer, USB interface (iPod compatible) and RearView Monitor.
The 2013 JUKE comes in three trim levels, S (MSRP $18,990) FWD with CVT automatic transmission, SV (MSRP $21,990) FWD with CVT automatic transmission and the SL (MSRP $24,290) FWD with CVT automatic transmission. A manual transmission is available in all trim levels.
All trim levels of the JUKE have AWD available also featuring the Nissan Torque-Vectoring AWD drive system to enhance handling and performance in aggressive driving situations.
Though we were more than satisfied with the SL Midnight Edition FWD we tested, we did find that there were some torque steering control issues from the FWD when aggressively starting out and power shifting to get up to speed in highway traffic situations. The AWD version would have mitigated most of that.
Lastly, the rated fuel economy for our test car is 25/31 MPG City/Highway with an expected average of 27 MPG. We were a bit short of that number, but we fully expected it since we drove mostly in Sport mode choosing to drive the snappy little JUKE like the sporty hatchback it really is.