First Drive: the 2011 Nissan Cube is not the most masculine car ever made

Nissan Cube TFL 1

In the interest of full disclosure, I have yet to drive a 2011 Nissan Cube for an extended period of time.

I did test a 2011 Nissan Cube for a day in California. I drove a 2010 for four days in Detroit, Michigan – during the North American International Auto Show. Being that they are essentially the same vehicle and I drove them in two completely different climates with both transmissions – I think I can safely give a brief evaluation.

This was not the right car to drive in “Motor City.”

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My constituents (including Roman Mica) and I were HUGE targets. Seriously, I think kids are trained at young ages to throw rocks and Molotov Cocktails at anything foreign. Hmmm, a giant box on wheels that is unique from ANYTHING built in Motown rolling along in mid-recession Detroit? Oh yeah, we were at maximum tightness on the sphincter-meter,

Here’s what you need to know:

• Prices for the 2011 Nissan Cube begin at $14,290.

• You can get a continuously variable transmission (CVT) or a six-speed manual transmission – but the manual is reserved for cool people.

• It’s bigger than the KIA Soul and more powerful.

• At 6’2” (with my boots on) I was exceptionally comfortable and sight lines

were good in most directions. The rear quarters and thick pillars take some getting used to.

• Its 122 horsepower, 1.8-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine makes 127 lbs-feet of torque.

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• It’s not the most masculine car made.

• The oddball dashboard mixed with artsy gizmos and wiz-bangs was surprisingly easy to figure out and use.

• It IS a WAY better car than Nissan’s Versa.

• The Cube had six cup holders and five bottle holders, ‘cuz bottles aren’t as cool as cups.

• It’s efficient with 25 mpg city/30 mpg highway with the stick and 27 mpg city/31 mpg highway when equipped with the CVT. The stick is still cooler…

• The über-cool e-4WD system uses an electric rear wheel drive motor to assist the gasoline engine powered front wheels – AND it’s NOT available HERE! Bummer.

• There are bungee-cords on the doors for holding… something. I’m not sure what. I think it could hold some extra shoe laces or a few Q-tips. Maybe.

• With the rear seats folded, the cargo capacity is 58.1 cubic feet – which is outstanding.

• A chick at my hotel wouldn’t stop raving about its looks… and guys, she was hot.

• Even the base model’s stereo sounds mighty good.

• There’s a spot on the top of the dashboard that can hold a shag carpet patch (no kidding) to hold things like an iPod.

• The ride is quiet with less wind-noise than I expected. Tire noise was good too.

• It is the only car sold in our country that’s not a mirror image on both sides. That is to say: it’s not a proportional looking design.

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We have yet to get a Nissan Cube anywhere near the Mile High City – so full performance numbers will have to wait. I can say that this little car grew on me and despite my frustration with the Cube in Detroit (with the city more than the car). I appreciated its unique character, tons of useable space, easy to sit in interior and decent power.

I liked it the more I drove it.

I drove it through some nasty mid-western snow and it was surprisingly competent. I drove one through the streets of Southern California and it was cheeky if not down-right fun. I still think the KIA Soul is hipper than the Cube; however, the Nissan Cube is definitely more unique and fun than the Scion xB. As a parent looking for a good, cheap, enjoyable ride for my family – I would consider one (with the six-speed manual – – – of course) and I bet my little-ones would dig it.

On the TFLcar recommendation scale of:

Buy it

– Lease it

– Rent it or

– Forget it

I give the give the Nissan Cube a:


Nathan Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his page HERE.

If you like the Nissan Cube you may also like the 2011 Nissan Versa. Here’s our initial first look video:

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