2012 Nissan Juke SL Review

MPG-o-Matic 2012 Nissan Juke Review Summary: The Nissan Juke delivers solid performance but is saddled with an undeniably polarizing design. It’s one of those cars that must be driven to be understood. Nissan refers to the Juke as “The Bold Urban Sport Cross,” but it’s right at home on those country roads, spraying gravel. Folks will cross-shop the Juke against everything from the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota FJ to the Subaru WRX, Suzuki SX4, and MINI Countryman.

The 2012 Nissan Juke is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter 16-valve Sequential Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) inline four-cylinder engine producing 188 horsepower (HP) and 177 foot pounds of torque. The Juke is available in front-wheel-drive (FWD) and all-wheel-drive (AWD). A Continuously Variable automatic transmission (CVT) is fitted to both models, but a six-speed manual transmission is only available in FWD. The five-door hatchback is offered in three levels of trim: S, SV, and SL.

The official fuel economy estimates for the manual-equipped 2012 FWD Juke are 25 city / 31 highway miles per gallon (MPG). The CVT-equipped FWD Juke is rated at 27 / 32, and the AWD (CVT) Juke is rated at 25 / 30.

We traveled more than 600 miles in our top-of-the-line manual-equipped FWD Electric Blue SL review unit (MSRP: $23,400) and flew right by the official mileage estimates, with an average of 36.4 MPG on the Interstate highway and 31.2 MPG combined with temperatures ranging from the low fifties through the high eighties.

Interstate Mileage Testing:

  • Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, ECO on, windows up: 34.8 MPG
  • Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, ECO on, windows up: 38.1 MPG

Interstate highway testing temperatures were in the mid-seventies. Our SL hatchback test vehicle was equipped with the standard 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, clad with Goodyear Eagle RS-A P215/55R17 high performance all-season tires, and was delivered with under 5200 miles on the odometer. The Goodyear Eagle RS-A is not rated as a low-rolling-resistance (LRR) tire. The Juke’s Coefficient of drag is rated at 0.35.

Highway driving range is particularly good in the FWD version, with a 13.2 gallon fuel tank. The AWD version is fitted with a smaller 11.8 gallon tank. The Juke is designed to run on premium unleaded gasoline.

All 2012 Nissan Jukes are fitted with four-wheel-disc ABS brakes (11.7-inch vented front/11.5-inch solid rear) with Electronic Brake Force Distribution. Curb weights run from 2,912 pounds (FWD SV manual) through 3,210 pounds (AWD SL CVT).

While the Juke’s 1.6-liter four delivers plenty of scoot once the turbo kicks in, launches in the FWD manual can be a bit tricky. A bit of practice should best our 0-60 MPH time of just under eight seconds. The manual shifter mechanism is solid. It’s torque steer that keeps your hands full.

The AWD system uses torque-vectoring technology, but restricting the availability to CVT-equipped cars limits appeal to enthusiasts.

The monochrome trip computer delivers gas mileage info between the tachometer and speedometer, whilet he I-CON (Integrated Control) system allows you to switch between Normal, Sport, and Eco modes, with colorful Torque, Boost, and Efficiency read-outs. The Eco Info screen provide fuel economy history, while Drive Info displays G-Force. Pop the Climate button and the screen switches into to climate control mode.

While the I-CON display is cool, it’s too far below the driver’s line of sight. Moving it higher up on the dash would help keep the driver’s eyes on the road. We’ll put that on the wish list for a future model year.

It’s no mistake that the Juke resembles a rally car. While Nissan refers to the Juke as “The Bold Urban Sport Cross,” it’s right at home on those country roads, kicking up rooster rails and spraying gravel. If you’re of the mind that seven inches of ground clearance is too high, Eibach offers a set of springs that will drop the Juke by 1.2 inches.

The Juke’s cabin, like the Chevy Sonic, is motorcycle-inspired.

Steering wheel mounted controls for cruise, audio, and Bluetooth are standard in all trim levels. The SV and SL include a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, along with a power sliding glass moonroof.

The SL model features perforated leather upholstery and two level heated front bucket seats. The driver’s seat provides six-way manual adjustment. Adjustable lumbar support is not offered.

The SL’s six-speaker audio system includes XM satellite radio, iPod integration, a 5-inch LCD display, and a Rockford Fosgate-powered subwoofer, along with Nissan’s Navigation System. A subscription to XM is required for Real-Time XM NavTraffic.

USB and audio inputs can be found at the base of the dash, across from the single twelve-volt outlet.

It’s a tad tight in the second row, with the Juke’s rear seat providing 36.7 inches of headroom and 32.1 inches of legroom.

The Juke allows for just 10.5 cubic feet of cargo area with the second row bench seat up and 35.9 cubic feet of storage when the 60/40 split-folding seats are folded down. A hidden under-deck removable tray provides storage versatility, but is only included on FWD models.

All-in-all, the 2012 Nissan Juke is one of those cars that must be driven to be understood. While its design is undeniably polarizing, it’s an absolute hoot to drive, with a willing turbocharged engine, a suspension that brings on the grins and giggles on multiple road surfaces, and fuel economy that can easily exceed the official estimates, should you decide to drive in a rational manner. The availability of a manual in the all-wheel-drive model would be most appreciated.

Warranty Information:
Powertrain (Limited) -5 years/60,000 miles
New Vehicle (Limited) – 3 years/36,000 miles

– by

2012 Nissan Juke SL FWD Manual

Daniel Gray

3 thoughts on “2012 Nissan Juke SL Review”

  1. Nice Test on a unique ride. I have not come completely to grips yet on the styling although the performance certainly is there. That said I’d be willing to give up a few HP to gain access to the regular fuel nozzle. Not a CVT fan so the 6 speed manual is a welcome sight on the up-level trim package. Those Eibach Springs you mentioned should really make a good thing better in the corners(MPG Project vehicle?).

  2. Being the minimalist I am, I went into Nissan’s site and tried to build this in the Base “S” trim, figuring the manual trans would be standard in the basic unit. Unfortunately this doesn’t appear to be the case as the CVT is listed only for the “S” 2WD. Not a Leather/Sunroof/electric gizmos type of guy, I had hoped a budget Rally influenced Juke was possible, evidently not.


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