Nissan Cube
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Overall

You’ll never mistake it for anything else in the parking lot, but rumor has it 2014 will be the Cube’s final hurrah.

Drivetrain

The 122-horsepower four-cylinder is smooth and peppy, especially with the CVT; look cool while driving past a lot of gas stations and carrying lots of stuff.

It isn’t often that Erno Rubik, the Hungarian sculptor who created the brain-teasing puzzle that bears his name, would be credited with helping to design a car. In fact, Nissan claims it took inspiration from a bulldog when designing the Cube, but in reality it should have used a packhorse. All the funky detailing in the world can’t mask this car’s stuff-hauling potential. The design also implies that symmetry is not a necessary styling requirement. The rear window is located off center and lacks a uniform shape. The rear side glass is similarly irregular and even the gauges are asymmetrical. Unconventional? Yes, but interesting and daring. The Cube’s marshmallow-soft silhouette draws considerable attention along with plenty of spirited debate. Not open for discussion is its diminutive size; the Cube is about five inches shorter than the small Kia Soul. Entrance to the storage compartment is through a large side-hinged rear door that swings open a full 90 degrees. Inside, there’s a reasonable amount of floor-to-ceiling storage room and more available with the split-folding, fore-and-aft adjustable bench seat folded flat. Credit for the Cube’s standard 122-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder powerplant goes to Nissan’s original Versa sedan/wagon. There’s enough power here to easily handle a variety of highway and vehicle load conditions. A six-speed manual transmission is standard in base models while a fuel-saving continuously variable unit is optional. The Cube is offered in 1.8 S and 1.8 SL trim levels, all fitted with power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, automatic speed control, push-button ignition, alloy wheels and other niceties. Personalization prominently figures into the Cube’s marketing strategy with a host of available factory and dealer-installed dress-up content offered.

Base price (incl. destination): $17,400 (2013, 1.8 S)
Type: Four-door, front-wheel-drive sub-compact van/wagon
Base engine (hp): 1.8-liter DOHC I4 (122)
Layout: Front engine, front-wheel-drive
Transmissions: Six-speed manual; continuously variable (opt.)
MPG (city/hwy): 25/30 (MT); 27/31 (CVT)
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control
Weight (lb.): 2,770