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2016 Nissan JUKE: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2016

Like the Kia Soul and MINI Cooper, the 2016 Nissan JUKE is one of those cars that redefines the segment and sets new standards for styling, performance and price. Nissan's quirky little SUV covers numerous bases, acting as an economical compact, a turbocharged performance machine and, when equipped with all-wheel drive, a year-round companion able to tackle the most inclement weather. Add a nice dose of cutting-edge electronic features, and you have a crossover that's perfect for a more youthful driver. But surprisingly, JUKE sales have gone to people of all ages.

For those who appreciate the JUKE's qualities, there's one more that may help seal the deal: affordability. The JUKE has a base price that starts at around $21,000, which is lower than most small crossovers. For everything it has to offer, that's a bargain.

What's New for 2016?

Apple's Siri Eyes Free is made standard for 2016, as are two new Stinger Editions in a choice of black with yellow accents or yellow with black accents.

What We Like

Quick-footed handling; responsive engine; available all-wheel drive; comfortable seats; custom personalization program

What We Don't

Limited cargo space; some cheap interior materials; lack of rear-seat headroom; love-it-or-hate-it styling

How Much?

$21,150-$31,500

Fuel Economy

The 2016 Nissan JUKE and JUKE NISMO are fitted with a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine. Output is 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. On the high-performance NISMO RS model, hp jumps up to 215 with 210 lb-ft of torque. Energy is channeled to the front wheels by a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The JUKE also offers a 6-speed manual transmission, but only on NISMO trims. All-wheel-drive models are only available with the CVT.

The Environmental Protection Agency's fuel economy estimates for the front-wheel-drive JUKE are 28 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel-drive JUKE's fuel economy ratings are 26 mpg city/31 mpg hwy. The NISMO earns 28 mpg city/34 mpg hwy with the manual and 26 mpg city/31 mpg hwy with the automatic and all-wheel-drive model. The NISMO RS earns 25 mpg city/31 mpg hwy with the manual and 25 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with the automatic and all-wheel-drive model.

Standard Features & Options

Nissan offers five trim levels for the 2016 JUKE: S, SV, NISMO, SL and NISMO RS. Front-wheel-drive NISMO models offer a 6-speed manual, while all other trims come only with the CVT automatic. All-wheel drive is available on all trims.

The JUKE S ($21,150) includes a CVT automatic, power windows, locks and mirrors, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an auxiliary input port, a rearview camera, Nissan Intelligent Key with push-button starting, Bluetooth, cruise control, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, Siri Eyes Free, a trip computer and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The JUKE SV ($23,200) adds premium fabric, the Integrated Control (I-CON) multifunction controller, automatic climate control, USB/iPod control, a power sunroof, rear privacy glass and SiriusXM radio.

The JUKE SL ($26,140) is loaded with navigation radio, NissanConnect with mobile apps, Rockford Fosgate ecoPUNCH audio with a powered subwoofer, Nissan's Around View Monitor with moving-object detection, leather upholstery, heated front seats, fog lights and auto-on/off headlights.

The JUKE NISMO ($25,730) adds sport tuning for the suspension and steering, lowered ride height, 18-in wheels and unique NISMO exterior and interior treatments. Also standard are navigation, NissanConnnect with mobile apps, Rockford Fosgate ecoPUNCH audio and the Around View Monitor with moving-object detection.

The JUKE NISMO RS ($28,920) brings a more powerful engine, a limited-slip rear differential (for manual models) and sport brakes.

All-wheel drive adds about $1,850 to the bottom line. The Tech package (navigation, Rockford Fosgate audio and the Around View Monitor with moving-object detection) and the Cold Weather package (heated cloth seats and heated outside mirrors) can be added to the SV trim, as can the two new Stinger Editions by Color Studio.

Safety

Standard safety features for the JUKE include anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, active front head restraints and six airbags (front, side and head-curtain).

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the government gave the 2016 Nissan JUKE four out of five stars overall, with three stars for the front-end crash test, five stars for the side-impact test and four stars for the rollover test.

The JUKE earned the highest crash-test ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in all but the small-overlap front crash test, in which it received a Poor rating.

Behind the Wheel

The JUKE's turbocharged engine delivers a healthy dose of exhilaration. Both off the line and in midsprint, this energetic little hatchback has plenty of get-up-and-go power. Passing other cars is especially fun, as the drivers you overtake are sure to give the JUKE a look that says, "What in the world is that thing?"

To customize the driving experience, Nissan equips the JUKE with its I-CON System, which allows the driver to choose from three operating modes: Normal, Sport and Eco. Each mode alters throttle response, steering speed and transmission settings based on your preferred driving style.

The JUKE is an agile handler, benefiting from a precise steering system and a firm suspension. It's particularly nimble in corners, remaining stable and well planted even at higher speeds. And like most good sports cars, its performance seems to tighten up more as it's pushed harder. Add all-wheel drive, and the JUKE becomes a capable 4-season vehicle. When there's no snow or mud to tread through, you can apply all-wheel drive to a performance-oriented drive on a curvy country road.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Kia Soul -- The front-drive-only Kia Soul offers much more cargo-carrying capacity, but the JUKE is a lot more powerful and fun to drive. Both vehicles have a descending roofline that compromises rear-seat headroom.

2016 MINI Cooper Countryman -- The JUKE and the Countryman are comparable in performance, but the Countryman is more expensive and has a smaller dealer network.

2016 Honda HR-V -- The HR-V lacks the JUKE's turbocharged engine and bold styling, but it offers better fuel economy in a more versatile and roomy package.

Used Subaru WRX -- A 2010-2014 Subaru WRX offers more power, a manual transmission, excellent handling and standard all-wheel drive. There's also more interior room, although the audio and navigation systems are inferior to the JUKE's offerings.

Autotrader's Advice

The midlevel 2016 Nissan JUKE SV makes the most sense to us. You'll get a nice array of features without paying the premium that the up-level SL requires. The two main things you'll miss are leather upholstery and heated seats (the latter can be acquired by ordering the Cold Weather package). If you can swing the extra $1,500, we recommend that you add the optional Tech package, too. For those living in colder climates, all-wheel drive is suggested.

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2016 Nissan JUKE: New Car Review - Autotrader