NEWS

2011 Nissan Juke: Up Close

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Taking in the Juke is kind of like watching a game of cricket: There’s a lot going on that I don’t understand, but I like it nonetheless. The Juke is different without being dreadful-looking, appealing but not conventional. For small-crossover shoppers who want a car that stands out, the Juke has become the one to beat.

The Juke is nearly 2 feet shorter than a Nissan Rogue, and its small size is apparent when framed by the rest of Nissan’s lineup, like it was on the floor of the New York auto show. More than anything, its size reminded me of a small hatchback — with a lift kit.

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Nissan had a right-hand-drive Juke on the show floor, and the interior seemed pretty average for something that’s supposed to start around $20,000. It’s nice, but not exceptionally so. The cloth front bucket seats have modest side bolsters and offer a range of adjustability that makes the driver’s seat comfortable for taller people.

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How’s the backseat? Not so good. Even by compact car standards, it’s tight. You have to wedge your knees past the back of the front seats to get in, and once you’re there, the seat doesn’t offer a lot of thigh support. Like the Mini Cooper, the Juke is suited to carry full-size passengers in back only when there’s absolutely no other alternative.

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The cargo area is on the small side, but if you don’t plan on using the small backseat, you can fold it flat to open up more space, which is probably what a lot of singles and couples who buy the Juke will do. There’s a sizable bin under the cargo floor that can keep valuables out of sight.

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Mike Hanley has more than 20 years of experience reporting on the auto industry. His primary focus is new vehicles, and he's currently a Senior Road Test Editor overseeing expert car reviews and comparison tests. He previously managed Editorial content in the Cars.com Research section. Email Mike Hanley

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