Junkyard Find: 2010 Nissan Cube

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Nissan’s slow-selling, goofy-looking minivan debuted in the United States market for the 2009 model year and got axed just five years later. You can still buy a new Cube in Japan, but junkyards on this side of the Pacific are getting discarded Cubes in more-than-flukey quantities.

After seeing several in a Denver-area self-service yard last month, I decided to photograph one.

You’d think that a seven-year-old Japanese minivan that hasn’t been wrecked nor been the setting for a belt-sander homicide would be worth fixing no matter what mechanical ailment occurs, but— if we are to judge by three not-very-smashed Cubes in one yard— this must not be the case.

The Cube’s power came from a 1.8-liter straight-four rated at 122 horsepower. In a car that weighs just a bit under one-and-a-half tons, that isn’t much by the standards of our current decade (yes, if you want to be a definition-crazed hair-splitter, the 2010s didn’t officially start until January 1, 2011). According to John Phillips back in 2010, the Cube’s engine “exhibits no noticeable power peak because there’s no noticeable power.”

So perhaps the Cube’s sluggishness is the primary reason its owners ditch their cars when a head gasket blows or a fender-bender scrapes up the paint.

My guess, though, is that most used-car-buying Americans can’t stand the asymmetrical design of this car, and all the Nissan reliability and useful interior space in the world can’t make them shell out real money for one of these things. If the sight of a Cube makes you angry, please explain why in the comments.

Will rear drum brakes ever disappear from cars?

Just a year or two into the Great Recession, it seems unlikely that all the television ads in the world showing exquisitely trans-ethnic 25-year-olds preparing for a rich-folks urban party in a “Cube Mobile Device” could have induced real-world broke-ass 25-year-olds to get a new Cube instead of, say, a battered ’96 Tercel. (Yes, I get that this ad was aimed at 40-year-olds who wanted to feel like 25-year-olds.)

The New Young Pony Club tune is catchy, though.

As always, the Japanese-market ads for the same car are far superior.

Just the thing to take your pug out on the town.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Dec 12, 2017

    A 2010 in the yard thats there not because it was wrecked but due to mechanical issues. I'm surprised there have not been any 2007-10 Calibers/Compass yet in the Junkyard Find. The CVT and "World engine" have to burn out prematurely sometime.

    • See 4 previous
    • Banger Banger on Dec 12, 2017

      @ahintofpepperjack Probably better cooling efficiency in the ChryCo vehicles that had this trans. I read a piece on NICOClub by a trans guy who said Nissan's problem is they run the trans cooling stack in the radiator, and the average Nissan engine runs about 20 degrees hotter (195F) than optimal CVT operating temp (175). If the Jeeps and Calibers run a cooler thermostat, maybe that's it. FWIW, one owner on Nissan Cube Owners Club on Facebook recently reported she got 185,000 miles out of her stock CVT before it finally grenaded without much warning. Holding out hope our CVTs are as long-lived as that.

  • Davew833 Davew833 on Dec 22, 2017

    This was an IAAI salvage auction car as evidenced by the lot #19853341 on the back window and the sale tag on the windshield. It was salvaged for hail damage which is evident in the shattered windshield and some pockmarks visible on the hood in the above pics, it ran & drove, and had 72k miles according to the auction site.

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