The Truth About Cars » Nissan Cube The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 14 Jul 2014 16:00:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Nissan Cube Nissan Cube, Murano CrossCabriolet To Die Wed, 09 Jul 2014 13:54:37 +0000 DSC_0171-526x350

Nissan will kill off two of its quirkiest vehicles for 2015. Both the Cube and Murano CrossCabriolet will disappear in the coming model year.

The CrossCabriolet, which famously found a home among a dementia-stricken man, will die along with the current Murano, as Nissan prepares for the 2015 model year and the all-new Murano.

The Cube, which sold is small numbers, will presumably get the axe because everyone interested in a geometric-shaped Japanese car has already bought a Scion xB.

]]> 54
Corolla vs. Cube: Why Choose Boring? Thu, 04 Apr 2013 18:29:25 +0000

I recently inherited a Nissan Cube from my brother. When I tell people this, they have two distinct reactions. For anyone who isn’t into cars, it’s: “Your brother died?” Car people, however, usually respond with: “You have a Nissan Cube?” This is the same reaction that non-car people tend to have when I explain my brother did not die, but rather moved to Los Angeles, where his soul will.

People just don’t like the plucky little Cube, whether it’s my friends (“Why do you still have that thing?”) or my neighbors, one of whom left a note under the wipers asking me to move it away from the unrestricted street parking spots in front of his house. Truly. This actually occurred. Perhaps the worst reaction is from other Cube owners, who occasionally wave, reminding me that I can be seen driving the thing.

As you can imagine, I’m not the Cube’s biggest fan either. There’s a fuzzy piece of shag carpeting on the dashboard (the “Cube pubes”) that seems like it might keep sunglasses from sliding around, until you turn it over to reveal a warning label that says – truly – “Caution: Do not place anything on this product.”

The headliner is rippled, presumably after the designer got high (this part is definitely true) and, faced with the munchies, decided to pay homage to the Lays potato chip (this part is probably true). The rear is asymmetrical (see: the designer got high). There’s a cupholder to the left of the steering wheel. And, five carwashes later, my Cube still smells like my brother’s dog no matter how many times I tell my passengers “it’s probably you.”

But can we all agree it’s better than a Toyota Corolla?

I talked my brother into the Cube three years ago when his budget for a new car was around $15,000. He has since upgraded to a Nissan Xterra, apparently eager to reclaim some of the manhood he lost driving the Cube. But as I reconsider the situation, I don’t think I would’ve done it any differently. Except maybe I wouldn’t have left those retaliatory death threats under my neighbor’s windshield wipers.

At $15,000, you have two basic choices when shopping for a nearly new, reliable, fuel efficient car. You can go the boring route and buy a Civic, a Corolla, a Focus, or some sort of Hyundai that vaguely resembles some sort of Kia. Or, you can go the interesting route, which involves the Kia Soul, the Scion xB, and – of course – the beloved Cube.

For my money, it’s the Cube every time.

My thought process is quite simple, which won’t surprise regular readers. As mentioned, the two cars cost about the same, provided we assume ego damage can’t be measured financially. Fuel economy is also the same, in part thanks to the Cube’s smooth, spry CVT. Whrrrrrrrrrrr. (Before you say anything, consider this: the warranty on Nissan’s CVTs was extended to 10 years or 150,000 miles. That means I will probably get at least two transmissions for free!)

So what distinguishes the Cube from its dull sedan rivals? For one: it’s more practical. Put the seats down and you can get whatever you want in the thing. Based on the smell, for instance, mine once hosted a competition to see how many dogs can fit inside a Nissan Cube.

But most importantly, the Cube is unique. If you’re like most car enthusiasts, you probably spend a lot of time complaining about a) speed cameras, and b) how boring you find cars like the Corolla. The Cube is the antidote: it is decidedly not boring and – for those of you who don’t like the CVT – yes, there was a three-pedal version.

Same fuel economy, same price, more practical, more unique. Sounds great!

Except, the simple reality is, it just doesn’t sound so great to most drivers, even if they say it does. One of the universal automotive truths I’ve discovered in the last few years is this: people talk about how they don’t want to be just like everyone else. People complain about how everyone else is just like everyone else. People say they’re going to be different from everyone else. And then people go out and by the same car as … everyone else.

In other words, the Cube is the car for those few drivers who actually want to break the mold set by everyone else. Maybe that’s why other Cube drivers wave: to celebrate the fact that we think differently from everyone else. In exactly the same way.

Doug DeMuro operates He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

]]> 105
Checking The Box. A Future Writer Story Sun, 17 Feb 2013 11:05:40 +0000

Can TTAC’s Future Writers master the tough job of a car review?  During Future Writers Week, you chose the writers you want to see again on TTAC. Here is the first car review. Do you like it? Tell us. Remember: The cars had to be scrounged somewhere, but at least the reviews should be uninfluenced by flacks or PowerPoint’s.

It was going to be one of those nights, and I knew it. The roommates were heading for a get together and they wanted me to join in. Parties are really not my gig, especially a party where I am the odd old one at thirty nine and the rest of the participants are under twenty six. But I said yes for some reason that still eludes me to this day, especially since we were going to take the roommates car. Now most folks know I am a touch of a car snob, yes I drive a Peugeot that should be getting a pension, and I have an odd taste in cars as a general rule of thumb. But let me tell you about my experience with ’the box’.

The box I am referring to is not the cheerful and hip Kia Soul, or the original box for America, the Scion Xb. No this box that my roommate owned is the 09 Nissan Cube. I find it to be a bit bling in the grill department, yet not funky enough to be memorable on the exterior for anything else save the way the rear door glass wraps around the left side. Kei car cute it is not, and I love Kei class cars. The Cube is just too large to be cute in that way, sort of a ‘Hello Kitty fart can exhaust’ cute to me really. In other words, I really wanted to put a paper bag over my head when I drove the thing because I am a bit old to drive such a generation Y oriented car.

On the inside, it is not too bad. Fit and finish appear to be the current Nissan quality, the plastics are not bean-counter cheap, and the buttons, while logical on the center stack, look like something out of Star Wars. Having to look to use the climate control is a tad annoying, but set it and forget it auto climate control makes that forgivable. The seats are moderately supportive with an upright seating position that gives good visibility even with the high belt line, but unfortunately the thick pillars kill the visibility just after you think it might be good. Let’s not forget the shag rug on the dashboard that says ‘Do not place objects on’. What am I supposed to do with it then? Wipe my feet? Let’s just say I tossed my black berry on it, which did not go sliding around the dash at lethal projectile speeds thanks to its rubber case.

I do have gripes on the inside. The steering wheel buttons are for the Play Station generation. Directional pads? Can I do up up down down left right left right B A start for unlimited lives? After a few minutes I figured out the cruise control and audio controls, and I have to say the upgraded audio is not half bad for a stock system. The back seat is my largest gripe; it does slide forward and back and the seat back even folds down, but you have to undo four bolts to remove it. It would have some serious potential to hold really large cargo in the back, if the back seat did some trick origami to fold into the floor, or at least up against the back of the front seats. Leave the seat in and the cargo room is paltry at best – I can fit more in the trunk of my Peugeot.

Now that I had it loaded with some pretty inebriated twenty-six and unders, it was time for the drive. Unfortunately this particular Cube was saddled with the Jatco JF009F CVT. I hate to say this, I really am a fan of the left pedal and few automatics impress me. This one, just like the Dodge Caliber with the CVT, did not. Let’s just hope in the long term it is more reliable than the one in the Caliber. With the 1.8 liter engine, the thing drones and makes some pretty unhappy noises when flogged onto a freeway on ramp. It feels snappy to 30mph sure, but after that the drone grates on my nerves pretty bad, though once up to speed it quiets down and becomes a competent cruiser. The rubber band effect was there too, and I think that is what pretty much turns me off to CVT gearboxes.

I could not get a real test of handling since I had three in the back that looked a bit green by the time I got on the freeway, and close proximity to an impression of the Exorcist is not something I really look forward to, so there was no finding a parking lot and flinging the thing around to find the limits of adhesion or rollover. The steering is light and rather vague for my tastes, but the tight turning circle is really good and at low speeds it darts where you point it pretty well. Shopping center parking lot antics could be a lot of fun in it. The ride spoils all of that pretty quick, however. It is bouncy and crashy over pot holes, and on Denver’s broken pavement freeway system it hobby horses badly enough that my head tapped the head restraint. I have been in smaller cars that ride way better. I did not get to test the brakes all that well, but when I whipped it into a parking lot for tacos at break neck speeds and they hauled the thing down respectably with pretty decent and firm pedal feel.

Having only put thirty or so miles on the little Cube I can’t say how good it is going to be to live with day-to-day. In town at lower speeds I would think it is a good little car, save the ride and small luggage space – not half bad, if you are under forty. For longer trips, I would opt for something a touch more comfortable and conventional.

The Nissan Cube was provided by roommate, complete with insurance, the fuel light on, and four inebriated passengers.

Michael Peerson resides in the Californian Eastern Sierras. His day job is in the telecommunications industry as a high level fiber technician. On the side, he builds odd cars and drives an old Peugeot. He owned over forty cars since he was able to drive. A few trips to Europe resulted in a love affair with two-stroke East German vehicles. At home, he has a Subaru 360 to keep that perverse fetish under control.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll. ]]> 48
Nissan Hikes Price Of Unpopular Cube Thu, 22 Nov 2012 13:00:07 +0000

One of the most popular cars in our TWAT talks is the Nissan Cube; the much maligned, slow-selling compact is looking like a shoo-in for our ignominious honor, but Nissan seems to think that a price hike is just the ticket.

For 2013, the Cube will start at $17,550, a $1,790 increase over the 2012 model. Of course, the Cube is built in Japan and the rising yen has a lot to do with the price hike. But it’s not going to help dealers move units any quicker.

]]> 32
Comparison Review: Kia Soul Versus Nissan Cube: Second Place: Kia Soul Mon, 04 Jan 2010 20:49:12 +0000 Sould?

Back in 1997, when Volkswagen introduced the New Beetle, my wife badly wanted one because it seemed so much more young and fun than her current car. But she also wanted children. The two were not compatible, so no Beetle for her. No doubt she was not the only person seeking a cute, quirkily styled car with four doors. But at the time there were no such cars. Chrysler was arguably first to fill this void, with the PT Cruiser. So that’s what my wife has been driving for the past five years. Today there are a number of contenders. The latest: Kia’s Soul and Nissan’s cube. Which comes closest to the mark? Well, since you’re reading about the Soul first, clearly the cube. Here’s where the Soul falls short…

Picture 72First, a step back. Japan has been awash in quirky small cars for years, but the 2004 Scion xB was the first to reach American shores. The extreme rectilearity of the xB polarized opinion. Most people found it ugly, but enough found its combination of anti-style, roominess, and economy appealing enough to make the first-gen xB a hit.

The Kia Soul is Korea’s response to that xB. It answers the question: what happens if you keep the basic box, but do more with it than add wheels? What if you actually put serious thought into the design? In the case of the Soul, an upward angled beltline, downward angled roofline, flared wheel openings, and various other details perfectly meld to form a much more attractive box. This is the sort of innovative yet cohesive design Honda used to be capable of, but somehow forgot how to do. The Soul hasn’t repulsed people the way the xB has, and I’d personally feel much more comfortable driving one.

But perhaps this is a sign that Kia hasn’t pushed the envelope hard enough. While attractive, the Soul doesn’t challenge aesthetic conventions the way the xB and cube have. It doesn’t seem as quirky, and doesn’t stand out as much in a sea of other cars. So it doesn’t appeal as much to people like my wife who want something clearly different from the mainstream. Those macho fender flares and angles might also be a factor: there’s more sport and less cute in this exterior design than in the cube’s.

Inside, color provides the Soul with much of its soul. Well, not in the lower two trim levels—their interiors are un-fun solid black. Soul! InteriorBut the !’s interior (yes, ! is a trim level, as is +) is a combination of beige and black, while the sport’s (lowercase intended) is red and black. Opt for the red only if you really like red. There’s a lot of it, including nearly the entire instrument panel, and hard plastic is clearly hard plastic in this particular shade. You’ll want to wear your shades. Beige veers too far in the other direction, but houndstooth seat inserts save the !’s interior from appearing mundane.

The Soul’s most unexpected feature: speaker lights. The great-sounding 315-watt, eight-speaker audio system has lights in its two front door speakers. And, no, that’s not the end of it. These lights have four settings: off, on, mood, and music. In “mood,” you set the frequency with which they blink. In “music,” they beat to the music. An excellent way to entertain the kiddies—except that the rear door speakers are not similarly endowed. Why not?

Another problem with the speaker lights: responses to TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey suggest that they often failed to work as designed. Kia has a fix for this problem, though, so it shouldn’t affect recently produced cars.

Sitting in the Soul feels much like sitting in a regular compact, just with your rear a half-foot further from the ground. While a protruding center stack benefits ergonomics, it also reduces the perceived roominess of the interior. Similarly, the large, modestly raked windshield provides a familiar view from the driver’s seat, but cuts into perceived roominess more than an upright windshield would.

Picture 74All of these tall boxes provide more rear legroom and headroom than in the typical small car, and the Soul is no exception. Two adults will fit in back, no problem. Cargo space with the second row up is limited, but simply fold the rear seat to more than double it. The Soul could carry even more stuff if the front passenger seat also folded, as in the PT Cruiser. Alas, it does not.

Unlike in the cube, the cargo floor is flat when the rear seat is folded. The trick: a false floor behind the rear seat. Useful storage compartments occupy the space between this false floor and the floor over the spare. Up front, storage areas include a huge bi-level glove compartment and a storage box atop the IP. So there’s plenty of space for four people or stuff, if not four people AND their stuff.

The Soul looks like fun, and it has those nifty speaker lights. But it is fun to drive? A 2.0-liter four good for 142 horsepower motivates 2,800 pounds, not a bad ratio. Problem is, the automatic transmission has only four speeds, and upshifts much more readily than it downshifts. So, at least with this transmission, the Soul feels much more sluggish than the numbers suggest it should. An additional ratio or two would also permit more relaxed and economical highway driving.

The Soul sport has a sport-tuned suspension. The most obvious difference between it and the !: the sport’s heavier steering feels less natural and makes the vehicle feel less agile. With either suspension, body roll is fairly well controlled for a 63-inch-tall vehicle and there are none of the fore-aft bibbly-bobblies found in some tall boxes. The Soul generally feels tighter and firmer than key competitors do. But for truly fun handling you’ll want something with a lower center of gravity. Sick of the puns yet?

The Soul’s handling advantage vis-à-vis direct competitors comes at the evident expense of ride quality. On subpar pavement the busy ride borders on punishing, for the ears even more than the seat of the pants. While the base Soul has 15-inch steelies, and the + has 16-inch alloys, both the ! and the sport are shod with 18s. The Soul’s bold fender flares certainly pair best with the large wheels, but the attendant low-profile tires thump loudly across every bump and divot. This sort of ride might be worth paying for sports car handling. But many sports cars these days ride much better, and the Soul certainly doesn’t handle like a sports car.

In the final assessment, the Kia Soul is an attractively styled, functional box with some rough edges. Perhaps Kia will add some needed refinement in coming years. The powertrain from the Forte SX and more polished suspension tuning would be a good start. Even as-is, the Soul will appeal to those who prefer sporty to cute and quirky. But car buyers seeking cute and quirky in conjunction with a more relaxed driving experience (e.g. my wife) will be better off elsewhere.

[Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, a source of pricing and reliability data]

]]> 30