"People are innately amazed by the Juke. Literally minutes into my first drive of our latest long termer, a pedestrian at an intersection stopped, pointed, waved, and mouthed, "I like your car."

Our topline SL arrived with torque-vectoring all-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission. Amenities are substantial at the SL level: Nissan Advanced Airbag System, 60/40 split rear seats, power windows/locks/seats, six-speaker stereo, and navigation with Bluetooth are some of the notable ones. Floormats ($170) and a roof spoiler ($390) were our only options. To accentuate the Juke's physique, we specified a Cayenne Red paint job with a black and red interior color scheme."

Over the first few weeks of testing, we've grown to appreciate the little Nissan for its size, agility, and peppiness. Its compact dimensions make it a gem in tight locations.

A turbocharged 188-horse, 1.6-liter DIG (Direct Injection Gasoline) engine gets the Juke to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. It's not the quickest crossover around, but it is entertaining once the road swerves. The Juke calmly negotiates mild bends thanks to an athletically tuned suspension and all-wheel-drive setup. Punch it, and its modest thrust will have you wondering why the boosted mill isn't in a small sports car. Ahem, Nissan...

Inside, the Integrated Control system (I-CON) with its LED buttons that switch between climate and trip-computer modes has impressed me the most so far. I-CON displays real-time mpg and turbo-boost levels to encourage fuel saving and sportier driving. The Juke's cloth-wrapped seats are comfortable and its navigation easy to figure out, yet the overall cabin design looks busy.

There are some other niggles: With 10.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity, there's barely enough room for passengers and their stuff. Then there's that droning CVT.

The Juke, whose funky form draws as many wide-eyed stares as it does passionate opinions, has a very different -- and at times questionable -- philosophy. It garners levels of bewilderment few other vehicles can match. That's why we're so enthused to live with it for the next 365 days.


Our Vehicle
Base price $25,330
Price as tested $25,890
Vehicle layout Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 1.6L/188-hp/177-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
Transmission Cont variable auto
Curb weight (f/r dist) 3164 lb (59/41%)
Wheelbase 99.6 in
Length x width x height 162.4 x 69.5 x 61.8 in
0-60 mph 7.3 sec
Quarter mile 15.7 sec @ 88.1 mph
Braking, 60-0 134 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.83 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 27.4 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 25/30 mpg
Energy cons, city/hwy 135/112 kW-hrs/100 mi
CO2 emissions 0.72 lb/mi
Total mileage 2580 mi
Average fuel econ 24.5 mpg
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