Reviews

2011 Nissan Cube Walk Around

The Nissan Cube's looks are controversial. Some will find it cute, while others will think it's one of the uglier cars on the road. It is most identifiable by its upright, asymmetrical appearance. As if to intentionally conflict with the square, vault-like look, the side windows are rounded at the corners and beveled into the surrounding sheet metal.

Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the Cube is the single, hidden roof pillar at the right rear. It creates the illusion of a continuous sweep of glass flowing all the way from just behind the center right door pillar, around the right-rear corner of the vehicle, and across to the left side of the tailgate. There, it meets up with a conventionally visible pillar just where you'd expect to find it holding up the left rear corner of the roof.

Thus the left and right sides of the Cube are decidedly different, and it's this assertive asymmetry that easily trumps the fish-tank side windows as the Cube's most striking visual feature.

The Cube's exterior also features a long, flat roof with built-in ridges for strength and quietness, a tall windshield, tall side windows and large doors, including the left-hinged, right-opening refrigerator rear cargo door.

Base, S, and SL models breathe through three distinct tiers of air intake. At the top, a gray plastic grille with a slotted texture integrates with the main light clusters; it curves up at its bottom center to make room for a simple air slot below it. Below that, a body-colored grille integrates into the bumper, with fog light nacelles at its outboard ends. The appropriately named Krom Edition both simplifies and brightens this arrangement with single rectangular grille between the headlights and a much bigger and bolder opening below that in a more sharply defined bumper; both openings are filled with bight horizontal bars.

Around back, Krom is distinguished by horizontal air slots in its rear bumper, a more defined license-plate niche, and a free-standing rooftop spoiler. Running-board-like side sills complete the Krom's body mods.

Wheels help distinguish the individual members of the Cube family. Base and S models wear plain plastic covers with a six-spoke pattern. SL models upgrade to alloys with four slim double-spokes, a design that looks almost too light for the Cube's visual weight. Krom's more interesting wheels feature eight individual spokes that each meet the hub at a tangent, so they look like they're spinning even when standing still. Other wheels are offered as accessories.

The Cube is built close to the ground, so it is very easy to get into and out of, and the cargo sill is low enough for a child to load groceries over.

Interior

Although the Cube's design is quirky on the outside, it's all quite utilitarian on the inside. The Cube's boxy design gives it a huge interior. It has bit 109.1 cubic feet of interior volume overall, which is impressive for a vehicle with such a small footprint.

We found a 6-foot, 4-inch driver has about eight inches of headroom; and leg, hip and shoulder room are equally generous. A six-way manual adjuster allows drivers of all sizes to be comfortable.

The reclining rear seat slides fore and aft more than six inches, enabling moms to deal with backseat kids or babies easily at arm's length or large adults to sit comfortably behind large adults in the front seat. The optional cargo package deletes the rear seats to provide enough space for a rock band's gear. Multi-functional hooks can be detached and moved around the car as needed. Even without the cargo package, the Cube has 58.1 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded, which is as much or more than some larger compact SUVs. Put those seats up and there is a modest 11.4 cubic feet, which is about the same as a small trunk.

The Krom and Preferred Package SL come with a Rockford Fosgate subwoofer mounted in the center of the cargo door.

The Cube's interior environment is very basic, and it's obviously built to a price. There are no soft-touch surfaces here. It's all plastic, but it's a thick, sturdy plastic that is appropriate for the class. The look is a bit stylized, with a waveform dashboard accented by rounded elements that echo the rounded windows.

That dashboard features a conventional gauge package, with analog gauges and digital fuel and coolant level meters. The radio is set high on the center stack, with the climate controls in a round cluster below it. These controls are quite simple and easy to use.

There are plenty of places for small items storage, too. At the base of the center stack is a cluster of three cupholders, and the Cube has a large glovebox, with storage cubbies all over the doors and interior. However, as a pretty base vehicle, the Cube lacks a center console bin, which always comes in handy.

Interior design licks include a ripple-effect headliner with concentric circles around the dome light, a theme repeated on the speaker cones (and on the Rockford Fosgate subwoofer when ordered). The Interior Design package includes a round shag carpet that sticks to the dash. It's really not useful and it is pretty much there for the heck of it.

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