By on April 4, 2013

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.

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105 Comments on “Corolla vs. Cube: Why Choose Boring?...”

  • avatar

    There is a correct and an incorrect way of being different from everyone else. Buying a Jaguar XF over a Mercedes E Class is the correct way. Buying Mazda 2 instead of a Toyota Yaris is the right way.

    Buying a Nissan cube over a Corolla is not.

    While it may have similar operating costs to a Corolla, it differs wildly in one metric: resale value. Try and get any meaningful return for your cube. Just try. I dare you.

    • 0 avatar

      If you are buying used, this is an advantage.

      btw, playswithcars looks promising. On my favorites now.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know about that… there’s maybe a dozen on Craigslist here in the Twin Cities. There’s pages and pages of Corollas. Supply is pretty tight, so prices might not be too bad. The dozen listed don’t have seem to have fire-sale pricing.

      Not that it would matter, I would not be allowed to park one of these in our driveway. My wife vetoed the earlier xB, which is more attractive than this.

    • 0 avatar

      How can the words “Jaguar” and “resale value” be used in the same commentary?

      • 0 avatar

        Easy: combine with the word “bad,” or possibly “poor.”

        His point about Cube resale is true, though. After “inheriting” the Cube, I initially attempted to sell it. After four weeks on, I only had one person come by. She test drove it, referred to my neighbor’s Altima Coupe as “beautiful,” and never called me back. This actually happened.

        • 0 avatar

          The Altima Coupe is actually a nice looking car IMHO but the sedan version looks like a cheap pile of crap and I see them EVERYWHERE!!!

          Of course there’s not much in Nissan’s lineup that I do like the looks of – Current gen Maxima & the Z, that’s about it.

          I also “inherited” a cube from my wife, when the time comes I’m going to just trade it, not even going to bother trying to sell it.

  • avatar

    I greatly appreciate your attempt at rationalizing Cube ownership. You must currently be in the ‘bargaining’ phase. Kudos to you for not driving it off a cliff during the ‘anger’ stage.

    Let us know how it feels to reach ‘acceptance’.

  • avatar

    If I was in the market for this kind of car, and could only own one car, maybe….. with the other cars I have, a stripped Kia hatchback with a manual is a pretty appealing cheap car for commuting; although I’m still waiting for some long-term verdicts on the quality of these.

    I can’t stand driving the same thing as everybody else. I have to be different, truly. Don’t know why. So my daily driver is a decent dark green 1978 Chevy sedan on black steel wheels. Classy, cool, and when you see it, you know it’s me coming down the road (which, can be bad…..)

    Three years our Mustang will be paid off. After that I’m going to junk the wife’s beater Jetta and get a decent, used, cheap, small something. We kind of like the Fiat 500, but like the Kia, I’m hesitant to buy one.

  • avatar

    i like the cube very much. Imo the corolla can’t hold a candle to it. Neither can the soul btw. Maybe i like cause it’s different and people ddon’t, that’s definitely part of the attraction to me.

    As to your neighbor it’s incredible people like that exists. I’d park it in the same spot everyday for a while just to rub it in.

  • avatar

    it’s just too bad that we didn’t get Cube mk2. much cleaner design, less bulk. it’s the same thing that happened to the XB/bB. it got bigger and curvier and lost the boxy simplistic essence of the version before it.

    but really, the design is unique, it’s fuel efficient, and it can haul a lot of stuff. i love cars and would happily use it as everyday transport. I’m sure I’d upgrade it with a set of Volk wheels or maybe some Hayashi replicas.

  • avatar

    You gotta have Soul. The Soul demolished the Cube in the marketplace.

    Both are fey, though.

  • avatar

    So here’s a better question (in my mind), if all I wanted was inexpensive, reliable, *basic* transportation why would I choose one of these over a used Grand Marquis? I can’t imagine the Cube is any more or less enjoyable to operate. The only obvious thing that springs to mind is fuel economy, and Google tells me that if the Cube has any advantage there it’s a really slim margin.

    It doesn’t look better, it doesn’t drive better, it can’t be more comfortable, it costs more, fuel economy isn’t much better… you get a warranty? It’s not like the old Mercury is all that unreliable.

    • 0 avatar

      Only on TTAC would someone suggest that a V8-powered, 4-speed automatic Panther platform sedan engineered in the ’80s holds a “slim margin” in gas mileage over a 1.8-liter, front-drive CVT economy car from two years ago.

      This is why I love this place.

      • 0 avatar


      • 0 avatar

        It wasn’t really a suggestion. It was more a statement that if you’re not trying to buy a fashion statement there are a lot of options to meet your motoring appliance needs that are simply better.

        But yeah, the fuel economy thing is a little dependent upon intended use. Around town it’s more than a slim margin, on the highway it’s a lot closer.

        • 0 avatar

          It’s interesting. I grew up in full size Fords. I’ve owned two Town Cars, and a Mark VIII, yet for some reason I absolutely adore these things. I’ve wanted a Cube since its release. In Japan. So I guess you can add me to the “Panther cross-shopper” group. I just sat in a Cube for the first time at the auto show, and it was all that I wanted it to be. Legroom and head room were excellent, it has plenty of space for camping gear, and probably a bicycle or two.

          I suppose in many ways, it reminds me of my ’72 Jeep. It too is just a simple box on wheels.

          My latest Panther was dirt cheap, and probably has more ground clearance.. Still, some day, I may get my Cube anyway. Or maybe I’ll drive one, and hate it, but somehow I doubt it.

          • 0 avatar

            There’s pretty much nothing that trumps the “I like it, and that’s that” line. If it’s what you want, no more justification required.

            I only wanted to point out that if you don’t look at the Cube and think “wow, I *have* to have that!” it’s easy to justify virtually any other car over one.

    • 0 avatar

      Here’s just one reason: because it’s much easier to park any of the above-mentioned cars than the Grand Marquis and this absolutely matters if you are in an urban area.

      I have rented both a Soul and Grand Marquis (not intentionally; they ‘upgraded’ me to it for free) during business trips. And wouldn’t you know it, on the trip I had the Merc, I was staying at a downtown hotel and had to park in an underground garage!

    • 0 avatar

      Because half of a Cubes engine isn’t built from cheap plastics, the power windows won’t break at 100,000 miles, I could go on with the downsides of buying an old Panther.

      There are upsides yes, like overall longevity.

      • 0 avatar

        You slam the car for having longevity issues and the first thing you mention are power windows that might fail every 5-8 years? Am I supposed to take that statement seriously or laugh at the ridiculousness of it?

        I’m not dedicated to the Grand Marquis here; we can insert a large number of other vehicles and come away with the same conclusion, as has been pointed out by a number of other posters.

        • 0 avatar

          Did you not read the “There are upsides yes, like overall longevity” bit of my post?

          I was slamming the car for cost cutting measures, not longevity.

          • 0 avatar

            My apologies for misreading your post.

            But it is a cheap car, so cost cutting isn’t really unexpected; the end result is still a substantial vehicle.

        • 0 avatar

          No worries, sometimes I don’t word things very well.

          Panthers are a fine deal used, I’d never pay full price for a new one but I’d take a used one over a Camry.

    • 0 avatar

      The Cube CVT gets 27 city/31 highway, and a Crown Vic gets 16 city/24 highway, so even the Cube’s city mileage is better than the Crown Vic’s highway mileage.

      The combined mileage is 28 for the Cube vs. 19 for the Crown Vic. The Crown Vic will be about 50% more expensive to fuel than a Cube.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d expect more gas mileage from a modern compact, didn’t newer Vics get 28mpg?

        • 0 avatar

          Actually the cube returns better than EPA estimated mileage (for me), I’m getting 33/34 from my all highway commute. I just set the cruise, sit in the middle lane and sip my coffee.

          When my wife was driving it she was getting 30.5 in mixed town/highway.

  • avatar

    I would buy a Cube for my wife. It would really complement the Juke in my driveway.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I’m OK with funky cars, but the Cube takes it multiple steps too far and gives me no benefits for it. The Soul and xB provide similar utility and costs of ownership with less stigma.

    Is a Corolla worse? I don’t know, depends on what you want your car to do. Image-wise, a Corolla says “I don’t care what statement my car makes” while a Cube says “I care way too much what statement my car makes”.

    Gun to head, I’d grudgingly take the Cube for the utilitarian factor and get it in black to hide the horrible shape of the sheet metal.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree, the xB, especially the first generation, is functional and understated.

      The Cube tries too hard and looks like an Art Deco outhouse on wheels.

  • avatar

    I’d take a first gen xB over the current Cube, but I’d pick a current Cube over the current gen xB.

    It’s funny how that works, because Scion polled first gen xB owners about what they wanted in the next gen xB and gave them exactly what they wanted: Bigger, more room, more power, more everything, yet people hated it.

    Go figure.

    • 0 avatar

      I had an xB1, which was excellent. The Cube is what the xB2 should have been.

      My kids thought the xB was cool for the entire 7 years I had it.

      The only thing I didn’t like about the xB1 was how tinny it was on long trips – more than 2 hours was painful.

      • 0 avatar

        gslippy, you’ll be pleased to know that thanks to your old avatar, your name will forever be associated with the xB1. Every time I see one, I think “gslippy.” I can’t stop it.

        I hope the Leaf is treating you well. It’s another car I like, or at least like the idea of..

        • 0 avatar

          I’m flattered. The xB1 was such a good car I sometimes feel guilty for parting with it. I’m slowly evolving from the “run it into the ground” philosophy, but I still have a Hyundai beater I am doing that with.

          The Leaf is doing great; I think I’m the perfect profile for such a car, but it isn’t for everybody.

    • 0 avatar

      I actually gained an appreciation for the second gen xB after riding in a few cab versions in Chicago. It was roomy, comfortable, and seemed like it would be a practical cargo and bike hauler. It’s oddly proportioned however, and requires a tasteful wheel+tire upgrade to make it stylish.

  • avatar

    Hysterical post.

    It makes me mourn the original xB. That had all of the benefits outlined above, plus reliability, surprisingly good handling, and a genuinely cool design.

  • avatar

    I’d rather go with boring, it ages better.

  • avatar

    As much as people talk about being different, they aren’t. Why buy a Cube over a Corolla when there are better things out there to buy than either? Just because you want to be different, doesn’t mean that you don’t want a good car. I don’t personally like the Corolla because it isn’t leading its own segment. But, I also understand why people buy them.

    To me, the Cube is ugly and there are better options than the Cube as well.

    Plus, I don’t listen to people who say they want to be different. I especially don’t listen to enthusiasts about this. Simply b/c there aren’t enough V8 RWD Manual Diesel station wagons out there.

    Also, cars are a bad investment. I am thinking that the Cube would be below average on resale. Good luck with that.

  • avatar

    You mention a half-dozen cars at that price point…and then that magically transmogrifies into a choice between two cars.

    Even played for laughs, no…

    • 0 avatar

      One might argue that any of those cars could be subbed in for the Corolla and/or the Cube, and the piece would still make sense. The two I chose are just the most extreme examples. Best for discussion.

      In reality, this is the argument to justify why I have the Cube – so the “odd car” choice is already made. Corolla seems like the easiest target. The problem is, when you say “Isn’t it better than a Civic?” most people look you right in the eye and say: “No.” When you bring up the Corolla, at least there’s some hesitation.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        I think that says more about Toyota’s procrastination in updating the Corolla than the actual merits of the Cube. I have a Corolla, which I got in 2009, just before the new 3, Focus and Elantra were available. At the time, while the Civic was better, it wasn’t sufficiently better to justify the price difference, while none of the competition moved me (the old Sentra revolted me in fact).

        In 2013, I look with a lot of longing at the 3 (but am terrified of the rust issue, living in Ottawa) and the Focus. Next time, I guess.

        But the Cube is a good idea poorly executed. It should have been much better, and could have been if anyone other than Nissan had developed it, I think (other than the GT-R, I don’t think there is a single car they do that doesn’t have a huge “but” attached). Or it may be that I just can’t stand Nissan’s current styling…

  • avatar

    Does anyone really cross shop these two vehicles? Other then price and mileage they are worlds apart. One is your average 4 door sedan and the other is some kind of micro machines van. Personally I’d buy a used ANYTHING before being forced to choose between the odd & ugly Cube and the boring & lame Corolla. Its like to two sides of a Canadian coin (no offense to our friends to the north, just illustrating my point).

    FYI – I must be the only one who thinks the new xB is better then the old one based on looks alone. Atleast the new one has some style, the old looks like it was build out of Legos.

  • avatar

    Ok – I once looked at the Honda Elephant er Element and the xB, both were kinda cool, but Lordy – mpg was not. So whats the point of a penality box on wheels if you can’t buzz by gas stations and grin like a mule eating briars?

    • 0 avatar

      The xB2 fuel economy was poor, but the xB1 fuel economy was quite good. I regularly got 28-30 mpg in town, and 34-36 highway on my old xB1.

      The Element is a gas hog, which shocks most people when they think of a boxy little Honda.

      ‘grin like a mule eating briars’ = sweet

      • 0 avatar

        I’m averaging over 38 in mixed driving since I got my xB1 nearly two years ago. I have to work at it, though.

      • 0 avatar
        bill mcgee

        I bought a used ’06 xB a few years ago . It’s been a great car , 5 speed , a bit less than 100k miles when I bought it , 139k miles now, other than a brake job no other work needed . A bit tinny as you say but quite roomy . A perfect light delivery vehicle and frequently used in that capacity locally ( florists , courier vehicle ) , average over 30m.p.g. in mixed driving , more on the highway . And zero depreciation, they’re selling for the same price I paid a few years back . Next-door neighbor had the second generation xB- I wouldn’t get one due to the worse mileage , but still a nice car . Hers had the automatic, a bit more of a solid feel to it than mine .I had an Element , 2005 IIRC as a company car and yes , the gas mileage was lousy for a 4-cylinder ( autobox) which combined with a small fuel tank meant I was filling it up all the time .I think the later Elements got better mileage but I would never get one .Thought the handling was bumptious and subpar and the rubber floor seemed like a good idea but objects ( floral arrangements in this job) would slide all over the place whenever I braked.

      • 0 avatar

        Sad but true about the Element. I have two in my stable, one an auto and one a manual. The manual averages about 22 MPG in mixed driving, while the auto barely gets to 19. H’ighway mileage is never better than 24 due to the blocky aerodynamics. Other than that, both of these vehicles have been flawless in reliability over seven years and 80k miles each. Their ability to haul stuff is truly phenomenal and they are mostly fun to drive.

        If I were to get another such vehicle today (these are for teenagers in the house), I would seriously look at a Soul. I rented one last year and came away really impressed.

  • avatar

    Sorry, but this article is rationalizing in the highest order.

    The Cube is just awful.

    I’m saying this as a devoted Nissan customer since 1989 (the 4DSC Maxima!).

    I went to test drive one years back with my teenage daughter since she was all gaga over the Cube when it first came out. We even put a Cube Matchbox car on her birthday cake one year. I, along my wife to a much larger degree, loathed it’s looks. But I thought let my daughter realize her Cube fantasy in a 1/2 hour test drive.

    It didn’t take more than 5 minutes for both of us to want to run from that turd.

    Granted it was the CVT version (terribly matched to a wheezy 4 banger), but that was just the start of the disappointment. I have not been in a car so cheaply made, with such terrible plastic quality since maybe never. The dash was a vast wasteland of hard-as-a-rock Soviet-grade plastic that looked and felt (mostly looked) like garbage.

    Style-wise it’s a disaster. The front looks like a blood-blister, the window shapes are stooopid on a squared-off box, and the barn-door rear door is just idiotic.

    The only two decent “boxes” made have been the 2006 or so Scion xB and the Kia Soul. The Cube is a total swing and a miss. Dismal sales back my assertions up.

    I WILL admit the Cube is a box…

    …a Penalty Box!

  • avatar

    >> He has since upgraded to a Nissan Xterra, apparently eager to reclaim some of the manhood he lost driving the Cube<<

    Au contraire, mon frere. Like I told my colleague who actually has a flower in the vase in his Beetle, you and your brother are clearly VERY secure in your gender identity, and afraid of nothing.

    I suggest you paint it fire-engine red.

  • avatar
    Mazda Monkey

    FINALLY, an article about Cube’s Pubes

  • avatar

    I test drove one of theses about three years ago and while there were many things about the car that I liked I couldn’t get past two outstanding (to me) shortfalls.
    1) I hated the cvt transmission. Yes, I know that someday they will be the only automatic option, but the fact that it just revved and revved without ever actually shifting drove me nuts.
    2) The short wheelbase and high driving position left me feeling queasy. I have never been carsick in my life but after a few minutes of driving the thing I felt very unsettled.

    On a side note, last week I bought my dream car. A 2003 Crown Victoria LS sport. Long may she run! There is something infectious about the TTAC community.

    Love the articles Doug. You have a genuinely funny writing style.

  • avatar

    I think the Cube is fantastic! Well okay, I hear it drives like crap so I wouldn’t buy one, but I do like the looks, both inside and out (besides the shag carpet thingy).

  • avatar

    Hey, I drive a ’96 Volvo 850R wagon, which while often called a “brick”, definitely matches the Cube for right angles. It’s funky enough, in that Swedish sort of quirky way, and hauls a–s when I need it to. Cost me a lot less than a Cube would, too. Yeah, it doesn’t get such great mileage — 20-22 mpg vs. whatever the Cube will get. But I can buy a whole lot of petrol with the money I saved.

    My point is — if you want to drive something modestly distinctive and save money, there are beucoup choices out there, used and new. The Cube and the other cubist models from Kia and Scion are all variations on the same small car theme. The driving dynamics aren’t all that dissimilar either. If you want fun, drive fun. If you want boring, well there are lots of choices for that too. Just don’t kid yourself that the Cube is somehow light years ahead of the other small car drones when it’s just the other side of the same coin.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I suppose it’s alright that Nissan makes a car that looks like it was designed by Roger Rabbit, but I can’t stomach the styling. I drove someone’s rental Cube on the interstate and was grateful that it was in the middle of the night, when no one could see us. I don’t much like the xB either…but the Soul is neat.

    • 0 avatar
      bill mcgee

      When the first JDM Cube came out a long time ago I read about it in the car magazines and I thought ” when this comes to the U.S. I’m buying it . Back then it looked more like a shrunken Explorer , albeit with an asymetric rear door . The third or whatever generation of it we are getting now is just too offbeat , and not in a good way . If I were replacing my first-gen xB with another similar car I would buy a Kia Soul . Test-drove one once , with the manual and not a bad car , though a bit agricultural and crudely finished .

  • avatar

    I’ve never let xB haters get me down. There is always something about them that makes me not want to like whatever they approve of anyway. Some notable incidents:

    -(With anger)”Hey, your refrigerator is running.”-Some dirtball biker on a gross Yamaha with a purple seat.

    -A note saying “You’re car sucks.” held up by teeny-bopper girls in a Suzuki Aerio that is probably in a junkyard somewhere.

    -“Dat caa ogly!”- Parking lot vagrants.

    -“Your car sucks!!!!”- Ten year old punkass kid.

    -“Why did you buy that?”-2008 PT Cruiser owner.

    -For some reason, people who drive Panther chassis hate it. But these Panthers are always beat to hell. Usually, it’s an obviously formerly yellow P71 with a shattered rear bumper.

    • 0 avatar

      Funny; I never ran into an xB hater while I owned mine. Usually, it was just the opposite.

      To be honest, though, I was a hater until I sat inside one. Then I had to have it. At 6’6″, you find there aren’t many cars with that much interior room.

      • 0 avatar

        Same here; not once have I been hassled driving around New Jersey.

        • 0 avatar

          I haven’t been hassled, either. The interior room was the selling point for me, too. According to my two teenage kids, 38″ of rear-seat legroom FTW!

      • 0 avatar

        I was one of the first people in Chicago with one. Yes, there were haters. The first week I had it, I went to a house party with maybe 20 people. One of those people saw my xB outside, and punched out one of the headlights.

        After I lowered it, put wheels on it, and a bodykit, these incidents decreased in frequency.

        There is a guy in town with a modified Cube Krom. We jokingly thumb our noses at each other when we cross paths. He must have headers, cause he always does a pull to let me know it. Mortal enemies.

  • avatar

    Fail. I dont care how a car looks or what it says about me. I’d rather have a “boring” Corolla XRS (even the dull 2.4 version) than a Cube. If a Corolla says “boring” a Cube says “tries too hard”.

  • avatar

    I like the Cube.

    I just happen to like the Kia Soul more. Either way you are definitely getting something different.

    I think the real problem with any of these vehicles is that for only a few dollars more you can end up with a mid-size sedan and those for value per dollar I think are impossible to beat.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, if you value interior volume, you can’t beat the “box” design.

      My xB1 had a combined 84.0″ of front and rear legroom. You have to get a VERY large car to match that number, not to mention the headroom available in a box shape.

      But if you value style, the box probably isn’t it.

  • avatar

    I had actually pre-ordered a Cube during their introduction phase, but then cancelled my order once I got to see one in the flesh. While I really like it’s style I was let down by the interior. Why Nissan chose not to include a fold flat ( with the floor) rear seat was the tipping point (being a German shepherd owner… it was important). Also my knee rubbed against the driver’s side arm rest and I knew that was gonna get old, fast.
    I wound up getting an Scion xD, which IMHO is really the 1st gen xB’s real successor, & another good (quirky-ish) Corolla alternative.

  • avatar

    Is this the same car that Top Gear turned into an “old person’s car”?

  • avatar

    Trying to look a certain way leaves you open to criticism. Not trying and being smug about it is infinitely more satisfying. Corolla all the way.

  • avatar

    I really can’t understand why designers create these piles of dog vomit, and why somebody decides to waste money on them. Multipla, Juke, Cube, Roomster, Rodius and whatnot. Sure, they’re “unique” and maybe even “practical” designs, but you can get the same practicality also in a “not hideous” vehicle.

    Maybe I’m just boring.

    • 0 avatar

      “Maybe I’m just boring”

      You and my accountant father who loves 10 year old Lexus LS’s. He thinks they are fantastically styled and great looking vehicles. And the driving dynamics are perfect.

      He and I really disagree on vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      Fact: The front end of the Cube was styled after a dog in sunglasses, so your insult isn’t far off.

      I never understood why people buy stuff like this or the Juke myself, their “radical” styling won’t do any good in the long run.

  • avatar

    I’d avoid the CVT, but I’d choose the Cute. You guys have taught me to hate Corollas to the point of feeling smug when I see them.

  • avatar

    Call it auto writer’s disease. We always advocate wagons or intriguingly designed cars that few people outside of Europe or Japan get/want. So we end up being about 1/4 of the 0.0005% of the population that ends up buying these things.

    FWIW, I love the Cube, Cube pubes and all.

  • avatar

    Cube: Funked Versa @ full retail. Corolla: “Carry On Econobox.”
    Fridge door or pop-up trunk? Me neither.

  • avatar

    I love the kia soul–that’s the box done right and its not a bad driver either. The cube needs some work in both departments.

  • avatar

    This is what they call a false dichotonmy (probably spelled that wrong). Lucky for us no one is forced to choose between those two cars.

    I would look into a used Mini instead. If you get one with a stick they should be reliable enough. But pretty much ANY car would be better then those two..

    Whether its a Honda Fit, Old Mustang, compact pickup – you name it they seem better.

  • avatar

    I feel like I should have a cut & paste response to all these Nissan Cube posts on TTAC. I get it: most of you don’t like the car. It’s OK…

    My wife and I each own a Cube. I think the Cube is a great little urban warrior. Easy to drive and park in congested cities. Good gas MPG. Good interior space; it can haul a bunch of stuff on Costco runs. Once I even transported a full-sized piece of plywood in the Cube with the back seats down and the backdoor bungie-corded close (try that in any other small vehicle!). $19,000 for bluetooth, keyless entry and ignition, rear back-up camera, navigation system, upgraded stereo, lots of safety features like full cabin airbags, etc. There’s not another vehicle on the market that have as much interior space and those features for that price.

    At the recent Dallas Auto Show (which was the most anemic ‘major’ car show I’ve ever seen BTW), I had my first chance to sit in the Kia Soul ! (top model). The interior features were nicer than the Cube, including leather seats, and a better looking console. However, the interior space was noticeably smaller than the Cube. If I didn’t need the space, I would buy a Soul next time.

    • 0 avatar

      I bought my Cube new in February of 2012…got the (now discontinued) Indigo trim, which included 15″ aluminum alloy wheels, Rockford Fosgate stereo upgrade, Smart key, rearview camera monitor, and SAT/NAV. I also added the cargo organizer accessory, which DOES enable a flat loading surface when you drop the rear seats…of course, our toddler son’s car seat is a permanent fixture back there now, so that point is largely moot from my perspective.

      We talk about “driver’s cars” a lot…with good reason…and I think what Nissan has actually done with the Cube is to create a really good “rider’s car”. The comfort afforded the passengers in that car is incredible…like sitting in a mobile living room suite with coasters (okay, cup holders) everywhere. Plush seats, plenty of space, an ample greenhouse providing good lighting…and with those extra perks (all of which are now standard with the SL trim, with 16″ wheels and foglights as well as a climate control A/C), you have a remarkably well-appointed car for comparably little money.

      Now…the CVT is a gearbox which takes a bit of getting used to. And the wind noise is considerable, as are the effects of said wind against the restrictive aerodynamics. And the body roll is significant enough to give the impression that the car is nowhere near as stable as it actually is (adding a strut tower brace goes a long way toward alleviating this; surprisingly, there is a significant aftermarket for parts made for this car considering what a low priority engine performance was given when it was designed).

      It is a fantastic car. The looks aren’t for everyone (Kia Soul sales bear this out), but it is arguably the most Japanese car ever built -which I love- and it is perfect for what it is, a small-on-the-outside, big-on-the-inside, mini-SUV that gets exceptionally good gas mileage…with a ram-air intake and freeflow exhaust installed I average well over 34 mpg despite doing about 85% of my driving in city conditions. I hung some windchimes on the passenger side visor clamp and it’s like a meditation chamber on wheels, man.

  • avatar

    It was all good until you mentioned the Focus…hmm I think I’ll take “fun to drive” over “fun to look at”

    The Cube is a boring car with a funky box shape, not really a complete package of fun car. The Soul does it better.

    But nice try to elevate your street cred above the lowly Corolla!

  • avatar

    Great article. I couldn’t agree with you more. There is absolutely nothing worse than buying dull generic cars like the corolla, camry and accord. I seriously would rather drive a Pontiac Aztec then be caught in a corolla. At least with the Aztec there was an attempt to create something different.

    • 0 avatar

      You and I may be the only ones…

    • 0 avatar

      ‘Great article. I couldn’t agree with you more. There is absolutely nothing worse than buying dull generic cars like the corolla, camry and accord. I seriously would rather drive a Pontiac Aztec then be caught in a corolla. At least with the Aztec there was an attempt to create something different.’

      That would be more convincing if cubes didn’t drive like crap. An accord wipes the floor with the Cube dynamically speaking – and it looks very classy in comparison..

      I suppose there is that kid that just has to wear that ugly knit cap in the summer because its his ‘thing.’ That’s the people who the Cube appeals to I guess.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes dynamically speaking the Cube drives exactly like a box on wheels and that it is unfortunate. I had to pass after I drove one. I think the Cube in the 2nd generation is way too big.

        But I disagree that owning cars like the cube and the aztec is “different to be different” It’s really about character. Cars with an exterior design that makes you think or give people an opinion (positive or negative) are a good thing. Otherwise what we have are people driving around with the car equivalent of their washer and dryer. Maybe that’s why white is so popular??

  • avatar

    >>… left a note under the wipers asking me to move it away from the unrestricted street parking spots in front of his house. <<

    Is this busybody weirdness becoming more common? And, no, it's not Stay-Off-My-Lawn senior types. Middle aged men and women ("I'm waiting for a delivery, could you park somewhere else?" – was my favorite). WTF? Too many Weather Channel neurotics on constant vigilance for anyone who may clutter up THEIR section of street…

    And no, I don't drive a rusted white, windowless van.

  • avatar

    My one experience with a Cube was as a rental car. The driving position is very good; you sit upright like in a minivan but not unnecessarily high off the ground like an SUV or truck. The cargo space with the rear seats up is surprisingly small and poorly shaped. Also, I couldn’t get used to a strange optical illusion; when sitting inside it looks like the sides of the car lean outward at the top. I don’t think they do, but we are so used to having at least some tumblehome that genuinely vertical sides look like they’ve gone past vertical.

    I don’t remember what gas mileage it got, but I do remember being concerned I wasn’t going to be able to fill the tank. The gas filler door release is so low under the dash that it is not visible from the driver’s seat. There was no owner’s manual in the car. I had to Google a manual to find out where to look for it!

  • avatar

    After 10 months in a Fiat 500, 8 of which were really pretty good (don’t ask, the rules are like those of Fight Club) I recently found myself in car shopping mode.

    I like the styling of the Cube and really wanted to like the car but I just couldn’t get there. The real killer for me was when I closed one of the rear doors which did not give out a satisfying thunk and resulted in the whole side of the car doing the wave like it was at a college football game. Granted this was a 2010 model but it only had something like 20k miles on it. I never even got as far as the test drive.

    I ended up with a lightly used Kia Soul. I never thought I would purchase a Kia but have to admit that once I got over my discrimination toward the brand I found it to be a pretty nice little trucklet.

    The interior space is much larger than my Fiat (duh!) and the 160hp is almost more than my last two cars combined. I can actually pass people without using a crystal ball to determine whether there is a car coming the other way miles down the road which would force me to abort!

    The mileage could be better, I’ve only had the car now a week but according to the onboard computer I’m seeing right about 29mpg combined. Next time I fill up I’ll have to do some math.

    For me one of the best parts is that there are TWO Kia dealerships in town with one of them being about 6 blocks from my house. This means that if one of the dealerships completely sucks that I have the choice of a different one without driving an extra 100+ miles for the privilege.

    I’m still considering slapping a piece of shag rug on the dash just to live out my Cube dreams. I’m pretty sure we have some leftover olive green in a closet from the living room carpet.

  • avatar

    C’mon, Doug! There’s a reason it’s probably not driven very much. Just like other car guys, I see a car as a representation of your personality. When people see you driving a cube, they don’t see you as the guy who roadtripped in the Lotus; they see you as the complete opposite.

    BUT, you do have a point. It IS better than a Corolla. The problem with the Corolla is not only is it incredibly boring, but it’s also driven everywhere. Just like one of the guys said in a previous comment, a manual Hyundai Accent or something is infinitely better than either vehicle.

    If I were in the market for a box on wheels, though, I’d go with a Kia Soul over this thing.

  • avatar

    Is there a reason Doug’s latest post disappeared — the “please build me a…” one?

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