Penned at Nissan's European design studio, inspired by the Qazana concept, and built at Nissan's Oppama, Japan, assembly plant, the Juke boasts audacious styling, with exaggerated, arched fenders, curvaceous, Volvo C30-esque taillamps, and a rally-style front end with bumper-integrated headlamps. The rear door handles are "hidden" for a coupelike appearance, and 17-inch wheels are standard. Whether you find the Juke's look appealing or appalling, there's no denying that it's eye-popping.

The bold exterior theme carries over inside, where a motorcycle-inspired center console adds spice to standard five-passenger seating, 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth phone capability, USB/iPod connectivity, and a trick "I-CON" interface that controls the audio and HVAC systems and the drive mode selector, which alters throttle sensitivity, CVT tuning, and steering effort when switching between Normal, Sport, and Eco. The back seat is tighter than that in the Versa, and getting in and out can be chore given the sloping roofline. Cargo, too, at 10.5 cubic feet with the back seat up, is compromised for a crossover, even a small one. Options include a bargain-priced Bosch navigation system (roughly $400), a power moonroof, a back-up camera, leather-trimmed interior, and all-wheel drive, which will add $1200-$1600 to the price tag.

Speaking of a price tag, Nissan says the Juke will start at under $20,000. Given the turbo engine, standout styling, high fun-to-drive factor, long list of comfort and convenience items, and extensive safety equipment (six airbags, front-seat active head restraints, stability and traction control), the Juke should have no problem luring plenty of young, energetic buyers into Nissan showrooms. Even loaded with all-wheel drive, nav, moonroof, leather, and back-up camera, the Juke is likely to come in around $25,000. For a wild ride, that's a tame bottom line.

2011 Nissan Juke
Base price $19,500-$21,500 (est)
Vehicle layout Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 1.6L/185-hp (est)/175-lb-ft (est) turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
Transmissions 6-speed manual, cont. variable auto
Curb weight 2950-3200 lb (mfr)
Wheelbase 99.6 in
Length x width x height 162.4 x 69.5 x 61.8 in
0-60 mph 7.5-8.0 sec (MT est)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 28/34 mpg (est)
CO2 emissions 0.64 lb/mile (est)
On sale in U.S. October 2010