2014 Nissan Cube: New Car Review
No one will ever accuse the 2014 Nissan Cube of being boring, let alone hard to find in a crowded parking lot. Nissan's boxy and asymmetrical Cube has style that's anything but common, yet this economical hatchback offers surprising practicality and utility.
The Cube's most notable characteristic is its love-it-or-hate-it styling. Its boxlike shape is defined by its blunt front end and asymmetrical rear wraparound back window. The Cube's large swing-out rear door adds both to its versatility and its overall styling theme. The Cube's slab-sided, appliancelike design is definitely not for everyone.
Styling aside, the Cube has the right footprint to tool around narrow city streets without hangups. Its concise measurements make tight parking spaces less of a challenge. And despite its smallish exterior, the Cube's geometry allows for a remarkably spacious interior with plenty of passenger and cargo room.
Offering style and guile, the Nissan Cube is a viable choice for buyers with a brave sense of style and a need for practicality.
What's New for 2014?
Other than some color changes, there are no major changes to the 2014 Nissan Cube.
What We Like
Spacious; maneuverable; easygoing ride; hip and stylish; nice roster of standard features
What We Don't
Some interior plastics feel cheap; questionably appliancelike styling; not very spirited or nimble; noticeable road and wind noise
The front-wheel-drive Cube is powered by a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 122 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque. Power is delivered by either a standard 6-speed manual transmission or an optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
Fuel economy is rated at 27 miles per gallon city/31 mpg hwy with the CVT or 25 mpg city/30 mpg hwy with the manual transmission.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Nissan Cube is offered in just two trims: S and SL.
The Cube S ($17,570) includes a 6-speed manual transmission, 15-inch steel wheels with covers, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, AM/FM/CD radio with six speakers and USB port, steering wheel audio controls, Bluetooth, cruise control, manual air conditioning and remote keyless entry. A CVT automatic transmission is the only factory option, with a number of dealer-installed features such as interior illumination and designer packages available.
The Cube SL ($19,670) adds a CVT automatic transmission, Nissan Intelligent Key keyless entry and push-button start, automatic climate control, 16-in alloy wheels and automatic on/off headlights.
The SL can be ordered with the Preferred Package that adds fog lights, navigation radio with 5-in touchscreen display, USB/iPod interface, a rearview monitor and upgraded speakers, including a Rockford Fosgate 8-in subwoofer with amp.
Standard safety features for the Cube include ABS, traction control, stability control, active front head restraints and six airbags -- front, side and head curtain.
The 2014 Nissan Cube has not undergone testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since it updated its crash-test standards, though the 2010 crash test earned the Cube four out of five stars. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Cube its highest rating and chose it as a Top Safety Pick.
Behind the Wheel
The Cube was made for city driving. It's quick and accelerates adequately off the line, making it ideal for stop-and-go urban driving. The Cube is highly maneuverable in tight parking lots and narrow streets, with a small footprint and a tight turning radius.
At higher speeds, the Cube exhibits noticeable wind and road noise. Its ride is mostly comfortable, but the Cube is not a very able handler. Its high center of gravity results in considerable body roll in corners. The Cube also suffers from light steering and a softly sprung suspension. Agility and nimbleness are not among its strengths.
The engine offers a smooth, steady power delivery, especially when paired with the CVT. This transmission also helps optimize engine output and fuel efficiency. The only drawback is the engine's tendency to sound labored at higher rpm.
Other Cars to Consider
Scion xB-- Both the xB and the Cube are stylish approaches to small practical transportation. The Cube has more passenger and cargo space, while the xB offers premium high-tech audio features and a more responsive engine.
Kia Soul-- Like the Cube, the Soul is known for its hip and funky styling. Both cars benefit from an abundance of available features and ample passenger room. Both also suffer from a noisy ride.
Honda Fit-- The Fit offers a much sportier drive, emphasizing nimbleness and precise steering. Its exterior styling is also more aerodynamic than the Cube, helping it achieve better fuel economy. The Fit's interior is more modern, with a wider array of standard and optional features. However, the Cube has more passenger and cargo space, and enjoys a softer, more compliant ride.
We prefer the range-topping Cube SL. This model offers a range of practical and upscale features but still remains affordable. Select the Preferred Package, which adds useful features such as Nissan navigation, a rearview camera and a USB interface. We also strongly recommend going with the CVT transmission for better performance and fuel economy.