MPG-o-Matic Nissan Cube Review Summary: The Nissan Cube merges polarizing design with practical functionality. With a base price in the low teens, the Cube appeals to drivers looking for something that’s completely different, yet affordable.
The 2009 Nissan Cube is fitted with a 1.8-liter four cylinder engine, mated to either a six-speed manual or Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The Cube’s DOHC inline four, which is shared with the Nissan Versa, produces 122 horsepower (HP) and 127 foot pounds of torque.
With a daring and asymetrical shape, there’s nothing else that looks quite like the Cube on the road today. Say what you might (and we heard a lot over the course of a week), the design provides excellent visibility, while the short wheelbase allows for a high degree of maneuverability, with a turning radius under 34 feet.
The EPA’s fuel economy estimates for the 2009 Nissan Cube are 24 city / 29 highway miles per gallon (MPG) with the manual transmission and 28 city / 30 highway with the CVT. That’s right, my friends … the Cube scores better fuel economy with the automatic.
We put well over five hundred miles on the odometer of our top-of-the-line CVT-equipped White Pearl Cube Krom review unit and easily eclipsed the official mileage estimates with an average of 36.1 MPG on the Interstate highway and 33.4 MPG combined.
Overall test period temperatures ranged from the seventies to the eighties, with Interstate highway testing temperatures in the low-eighty degree range.
Interstate Mileage Testing:
Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, windows up (1-inch gap): 34.8 MPG
Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, windows up (1-inch gap): 37.3 MPG
The Cube’s aerodynamics play a big hand. We were able to flirt with the 40 MPG mark on the two-lane blacktops, at speeds between 45-60 MPH.
This is a transportation appliance, not a sports car. The Cube Krom’s naturally-aspirated inline four and CVT transmission motivate the 2864 pound (curb weight) four-door efficiently and without fanfare.
The Cube responds well to light-footed driving. The Multi-Function Trip Computer provides two trip meters, average speed, miles until empty, average fuel economy, and instant fuel economy data, along with an outside temperature display. The 13.2 gallon gas tank provides a healthy cruising range. The Cube runs on Regular Unleaded gasoline.
MPGomatic Note: We recommend driving with the Cube’s instant fuel economy display active, in order to develop a light-footed driving technique to ensure the greatest amount of mileage from every gallon of fuel.
On the exterior, the top-of-the-line Krom package includes unique 16″ alloy wheels front bumper fascia and grills, along with bodyside sills, rear bumper fascia, and roof spoiler. A sticker on the roof spoiler warns about automated car washes and high-pressure hoses. (Buy the Krom and you’ll be washing it by hand.)
Inside the moon bus, the headliner ripples around the dome light, like a pebble dropped into a pond, while 20-color interior accent lighting aims to set the right mood.
The Cube Krom’s leather-wrapped sport steering wheel provides Bluetooth, audio, and cruise controls. The Krom’s audio system includes six speakers (four 6-1/2 inch speakers and two 1-1/2 inch tweeters), along with a Rockford-Fosgate amplifier and tailgate mounted subwoofer that rattles the windows and echoes the ripple effect.
The AM/FM/CD audio system provides both a basic audio-in jack and USB iPod input, which allows scrolling through playlists, artists, albums, and songs at the head unit.
There are two power outlets at the base of the dash.
Our review unit only included one option, the Interior Designer Package, with plush wavy floor and cargo mats, a peculiar shag dash topper, and front door bungees. (Don’t ask why … it just does.)
Driving the Cube is a bit like piloting your living room sofa, with a bit of an over-stuffed comfy couch feel. The driver’s seat features six way manual adjustment. The front passenger seat provides four way adjustment. The front seats do not provide heating or adjustable lumbar support.
The Cube goes out of its way to accommodate both passengers and cargo. We found the seating to be quite comfortable for four, with an abundance of headroom.
The rear 60/40 fold down bench seat reclines, in addition to sliding forward and backwards. There’s 11.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the rear seats up and a whopping 58.1 cubic feet of capacity with the rear seats down.
It’s worth noting that we saw just two other Cubes on the road over the course of our one week review period and both were commercial vehicles. (There’s a special Cargo Version Package, for those so inclined.)
All-in-all, the 2009 Nissan Cube Krom is a unique ride for folks with an open mind and an eye for the future. Good gas mileage, an abundance of interior space, and a high degree of maneuverability and visibility make the Cube a compelling little space ship for transporting both crew and cargo.
2009 Nissan Cube Krom Specs at a Glance:
Engine: 1.8-liter inline DOHC four cylinder
Fuel: Regular Unleaded Gasoline
Tank Capacity: 13.2 gallons
Brakes: Front-Disc / Rear-Drum
Curb Weight: 2864 pounds
– by Daniel Gray
August 20th, 2009
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