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2015 Nissan Juke REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/5/2017

Con: Not much cargo capacity; limited rear headroom; lots of hard plastic cabin trim; relatively stiff ride.

Interior: The 2015 Nissan Juke's cabin is nearly as aggressively styled as its exterior. There are a lot of organic curves and body-colored surfaces, while silver accents add cheerful ambience. But there's no shortage of hard plastic surfaces, reminding you of the car's budget price tag. On the other hand, the Juke's controls are large and easy to operate, and the cabin features lots of thoughtful storage compartments.

The front seats are comfortable, with substantial side bolsters well suited to enthusiastic driving. A steering wheel that tilts but doesn't telescope can make it harder for some drivers to get comfortable, though. A shortage of rear headroom makes the backseat better suited to small folks or kids in booster seats.

The Juke's cargo area offers a paltry 10 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 36 cubic feet with those seatbacks folded down. A compact hatchback like a Mazda 3 or Volkswagen Golf is actually better, while the Kia Soul's cargo capacity numbers are 19 and 61 cubic feet, respectively.

Body: The 2015 Nissan Juke is offered in five trim levels: base S, well-equipped SV and SL and more sporting Nismo and Nismo RS.

Standard equipment on the entry-level S model includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a rearview camera, air-conditioning, keyless ignition and entry, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-only steering wheel, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a 5-inch color interface, CD player, a USB/iPod interface, Bluetooth audio and a hands-free texting assistant.

The midrange SV adds a sunroof, rear privacy glass, automatic climate control, upgraded upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, satellite radio and driver-configurable settings ("I-Con") for throttle, steering and transmission (with the CVT) responsiveness.

The optional Tech package gets you a touchscreen navigation system (based on an SD card) with a 5.8-inch touchscreen, Nissan Connect smartphone app integration, a 360-degree "around-view" camera system (with moving-vehicle detection), plus an upgraded Rockford Fosgate audio system with a subwoofer. The Cold weather package includes heated front seats and exterior mirrors.

The SL comes standard with all of the above plus automatic headlights, foglights and leather upholstery.

The Nismo includes all that as well as firmer suspension calibrations, 18-inch alloy wheels, summer tires, a limited-slip differential, unique exterior and interior styling details, front sport seats and a steering wheel wrapped in leather and simulated suede.

The Nismo RS goes even further, with a more powerful engine, bigger brakes, more aggressive suspension and steering tuning, Recaro front sport seats covered in leather and simulated suede and simulated carbon-fiber trim on the dash.

Options, depending on trim level, include different wheels, a front center armrest, illuminated door sill plates and the Juke Color Studio, which allows one to mix and match colors for the body, wheels, mirrors, door handles, side sills and rear spoiler.

Driving: When it comes to performance, the 2015 Nissan Juke has multiple personalities. With the I-Con settings in the Eco mode, acceleration is leisurely while fuel economy is maximized. In Sport mode, the driving experience is noticeably livelier, though gas mileage naturally suffers.

Meanwhile, the Juke's nicely weighted steering and firm suspension work together to deliver surprisingly engaging handling. The ride quality is passable over smooth pavement, though it feels stiff-legged over bumps compared with its more family-oriented crossovers. There's also noticeable wind and tire noise at highway speeds, though most buyers should find it tolerable given the car's sporting bent.

Now that the Juke Nismo has the same engine as the normal version, don't expect any extra straight-line go. However, its sport suspension, paired with grippier summer tires, makes it slightly more entertaining to drive around tight turns. The new Nismo RS, however, turns the performance dial up to a degree that we have yet to  experience in the Juke. Its impressive 215 hp should make the Juke more of a rival to high-performance hot hatches.

What’s New: For 2015, the Nissan Juke sees a styling update, including the grille, headlights, taillights and rear fascia. There are also a few more standard features, including an upgraded infotainment system. This year also brings the introduction of the Juke Color Studio customization program, which allows one to mix and match colors for the body, wheels, mirrors, door handles, side sills and rear spoiler. Lastly, the Juke Nismo trim now has the same engine as the regular Juke (which itself has been tweaked for slightly better fuel efficiency and response), while a new, more powerful Nismo RS model debuts.

The 2015 Nissan Juke features a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. The Juke Nismo has the same engine, but the Nismo RS gets an upgraded version good for 215 hp and 210 lb-ft (front-wheel drive) or 211 hp and 184 lb-ft (all-wheel drive).

A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is standard on the S and SL trims. The SV, Nismo and Nismo RS offer a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or the CVT. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all CVT-equipped trims can also be had with all-wheel drive.

In Edmunds testing, a front-wheel-drive Juke with the CVT went from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, an impressively quick time for this category. An all-wheel-drive model was essentially just as quick.

EPA-estimated fuel economy for the Juke is 30 mpg combined (28 city/32 highway) with front-wheel drive and the CVT. Opting for AWD drops those numbers to 28 combined (26 city/31 highway). The manual-shift Juke rates 30 combined (28/34). The Nismo RS rates 27 combined (25/31) with the manual transmission and 27 combined (25/29) with the automatic and AWD.

Safety: The 2015 Nissan Juke comes with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, a rearview camera, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags.

In Edmunds brake testing, the Juke stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet, an average distance for a small car. The Nismo, with its summer-rated tires, was notably better at 114 feet.

In government crash tests, the Juke received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with three stars for total frontal-impact protection (four stars, driver; three stars, front passenger) and five stars for total side-impact protection. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Juke scored a "Good" rating -- the highest possible -- in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests. In that agency's small-overlap frontal-offset test, however, the Juke scored a "Poor," the lowest possible. The Juke's seat/head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

Pro: Lively performance; sporty handling; new exterior customization options; available all-wheel drive.

Edmunds Say: It might not be love at first sight, but a drive in the 2015 Nissan Juke will have you seeing the inner beauty of Nissan's feisty hatchback/crossover creation.

Introduction: Much like a teenager sporting piercings and multicolored, spiked hair, the 2015 Nissan Juke seemingly shouts "Look at me!" Though its styling may be controversial, there's no denying that this compact crossover looks like nothing else in the small car segment. Plus, with its new Color Studio program for 2015, you can give it the automotive equivalent of multicolored, spiked hair -- be it yellow mirrors and door handles on a red Juke, or blue wheels on a purple one. Indeed, it's this unique degree of customization and personality that differentiates the Juke from other small crossovers and hatchbacks.

Under the skin, you'll find a little runabout with a fun-to-drive personality to match its visual flamboyance. Most cars in this price range can be rather humdrum, but not the Juke. Boasting standard turbocharged power and a sport-tuned suspension, this Nissan provides a responsive and engaging drive. Furthermore, all-wheel drive is available, a rarity among small hatchbacks and a boon to those who live in inclement areas of the country. On the downside, though, rear passenger and cargo space are cramped compared with what's provided by somewhat larger, more conventionally styled crossovers.

If interior space is a priority, you might consider a more sensible hatchback or crossover, such as a 2015 Mazda 3 or 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek. The 2015 Kia Soul has some personality to it, and it's also more practical than the Juke. You can't get it with all-wheel drive, however. If having AWD is important, it may be worth checking the wave of subcompact SUVs hitting dealers in 2015, including the 2015 Jeep Renegade, 2016 Honda HR-V, 2016 Fiat 500X and 2016 Mazda CX-3. But overall we recommend the Juke if you're looking for a small hatchback or crossover with sporting credentials.

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