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3000mi - 2011 Nissan Cube


I've driven the 2011 Nissan Cube that I bought back in San Francisco for 3000 miles now. I'll be going over long(er) term impressions (mostly gripes, I've been too kind). I also did a post of my initial impressions back in October.

 

I've driven this car from San Francisco to Los Angeles and have been commuting with it everyday. So what's my overall impression? Well, this may sound strange but I am feeling respect more than anything towards this car. The reason is that this car is rated at 27/31MPG but I am able to easily achieve 32MPG in the city and over 40MPG on the Freeway. I always try my best to push the limits of the official fuel economy ratings and never before have I so easily exceeded the promised number. For example, when I drove the Hyundai Elantra for a few days, I was constantly under the 29MPG number no matter how hard I tried. Shame. Nissan exceeds their promise. I love this honesty.

 

The Cube shares the same platform as the Versa, so it is quite agile despite its appearance. Steering lacks some feel though it does respond quite sensitively. What's horrible are these Toyo A20 tires. They're the worst tires I've ever driven on. They are bouncy, sloppy, noisy and are notorious for poor tread life. 

 

The Toyos are particularly noisy on the Freeway. But the Cube itself isn't a quiet freeway cruiser by any means. The vertical windscreen produces plenty of wind noise and the side mirrors make a whistling noise.

 

The car is meant for the city though. The short nose is great for tight turns and the ride is always smooth and comforting. The car is powered by a 1.8L with 122 hp mated to a CVT. I felt a bit uneasy with the CVT initially but I've grown to like it. It really does run smoothly and is a nice departure for the jittery dual-clutch I had in the Fiesta.

 

 

The asymmetrical rear glass is definitely what draws people the most. I constantly see people stopped behind me gesturing a C shape pointing at my car. 

 

The wide trunk opening offers great utility. I like the fridge-style door because it lets you take things out without completely opening it like traditional hatch-back designs.

 

I do wish that the seats folded a bit more flat. And the light grey seatbacks do get easily dirty from carrying my bike. 

 

The left side without the wrap-around glass does pose a problem. Notice how there is a plastic panel instead of glass in the last section of the rear window.

 

This creates a really thick pillar and a bit of a blind spot. And all you get out of it is this useless magazine holder. 

 

One of my favorite details are these generously rounded windows. 

 

But they aren't resolved so well in the inside. So close Nissan! So close.

 

The cabin is extremely comfortable and airy. The materials themselves are just on par with other cars of this class but Nissan has done a good job with them. It's a comfortable place to be. I mean, just look at that seat. It's like a marshmallow.

 

Of course, head room is where the Cube really shines. Now every other car I ride feels claustrophobic.

 

The steering wheel is comfortable and well done. It telescopes but does not have reach control. I feel like I want it just a tad closer to me. Strange why anyone would leave such a feature out.

 

Dampening and button feel are all top notch for this class.

 

I've been wondering what I should do about this carpet. I found that it's the perfect place for my sunglasses. Nissan says that you shouldn't put your phone here because it will become a projectile weapon during a crash. This shouldn't be too dangerous.

 

I had originally thought these ticker holders were completely useless. Well, they still are. 

 

This however is the biggest oversight Nissan has made with the interior. The sun-visor is completely useless. It's so big that when it is lowered, it becomes dangerous to drive.

 

And when you want to block out the sun coming sideways, it's useless because it doesn't extend. As far as I'm concerned, these are only good as mirrors.

 

Despite the largely impressive fit and finish for its price, there are a few areas that I wish were a bit tighter. For example, the door panel on both sides steps down a bit from the dash.

 

Also, the rear bumper has a slight misalignment on both sides where it meets the fender. Nissan must have not properly calibrated the mold for shrink.

 

Overall, I love this car. It surprises me everyday with its fuel economy, it's super versatile, comfortable and charming. I'm still sort of excited to get in the car. How can you not be, just look at its face. But best of all, the Cube is the closest thing I can get in the US to a true Japanese kei car.