There is no argument that boxy architecture is the most efficient use of space for automobiles. There is no argument that Nissan’s diminutive Cube is boxy. The vehicle’s very name confirms that. Bottom line, in a small, easy to park package, you get a bountiful amount of interior room. Front seat headroom is amazing. At 5 ft, 6 in, with a long torso, I was astonished that the Cube still offered more than a hand and a half of headroom. Back seat patrons with welcome not only the fore and aft seat adjustments, but the reclining feature as well.
Surely, the Cube’s basic role is that of a commuter vehicle, or a sole occupant vehicle. With that in mind, no one should be surprised that it doesn’t have a lot of trunk space. You can fold the rear seats to gain additional space. Students and young families, as well as empty nesters will find it adequate for light carrying.
Don’t expect the Cube to be a stop light rocket. It’s not. Powered by a 1.8 liter DOHC 4 cylinder, the Cube is more interested in fuel efficiency than performance, but that said, the Cube has plenty of high way cruising and passing performance and will reach 0 to 60 in under 10 seconds, which is more than acceptable in this segment.
Our test Cube was equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission. Highlighted by short, positive throws and easy to locate gates, it is one that any novice could soon master. If you want an automatic, it is an option on the S (our test vehicle) and standard on the next two higher trim levels. We think most people considering the Cube would be looking for fuel efficiency, and therefore would prefer the manual.
Some have criticized the Cube’s handling. I can’t find that fault. I didn’t expect to take it to the local autocross, and for urban driving, as well as highway cruising, we found the car to confident and well planted, as well as stable under quick lane change conditions. This is reinforced by the presence of both a traction control system and a dynamic vehicle control system. To our way of thinking, the Cube offers a lot of handling technology for its segment.
Our S equipped Cube came adequately equipped with creature comforts that included cruise control, height adjustable driver’s seat AM/FM CD audio with 4 speakers, multi-function trip computer, electroluminescent gauges, ac with micro filtration, power windows and keyless entry to list but a few. Then there is the color changing under dash and floor level light show. Buyers under 30 will love it, and buyers over 50 will grateful for the presence of an off switch. And there is that pizza sized round of shag carpeting mounted squarely in the center of the sizeable dashboard. Yes, it does keep items from sliding, but at first look, one has to wonder, “What are they thinking?”
Don’t discount the Cube due to its small size, it is well equipped in the safety department: seat mounted driver & pass. side-impact air bags, roof-mounted curtain side-impact front and rear air bags, zone body construction with front and rear crumple zones tire pressure monitoring and electronic brake force distribution. The NHTSA has not yet rated the Cube.
Finally no conversation about the Cube would be complete without a mention of its unique styling. As stated, it is a basic box, with rounded edges, rounded side window surrounds and an asymmetrical rear window treatment. The rear hatch door opens like a side door rather than being an overhead lift variety. At first we weren’t sure about that hatch door, but by the end of our time with the Cube we had grown to be fond of it. Our test vehicle was white, which led my husband to comment, “You know, it really looks like a washer and driver sitting side by side on wheels.” Don’t take that to mean he didn’t like the Cube. As it left our driveway for the last time, he lamented, “You know that car is everything than anyone would want or need in the way of basic transportation. I could easily see myself living with one.”