CHICAGO, IL -- Is it a car, a utility vehicle, a small delivery van or what? All those questions can be posed when it comes to the Nissan Cube.
But the bottom line is the Cube is a small, sporty, spacious, fuel efficient car that looks like it'd be more at home on the autobahns of Europe than the Interstates of America. Still, with the alteration in automotive tastes brought on by high gasoline prices, arguably, the Cube is the car of the future.
First, the name sort of reflects its shape. The Cube reminds you of a cube; in other words, the car has a distinctive, squared silhouette. The upside is there's room galore from an interior standpoint. The down side is the relatively squared shape creates a bit of wind noise around the A pillar during Interstate driving as it did when I traveled down I-94 to here.
But the Nissan Cube was comfortable, it tracked well and even though it was powered by a 1.8-liter four cylinder engine that was more than enough oomph to cruise in comfort at 75+ mph. The engine made 122 horsepower and it was mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
I had the top of the line Krom model. It had a 3-bar chrome grille, 2-bar chrome front bumper grille, fully integrated front and rear fascias, body side sills, unique rear roof spoiler, exclusive 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and Krom rear emblem.
My test vehicle had a sporty look that caught the eye of a lot of onlookers. I don't think a too many folks have seen a Cube. One person that it was Nissan's upcoming electric vehicle, another wanted to know how was the gas mileage, (28 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the hwy), while a couple more didn't know what it was so they asked. The point is that the Nissan Cube Krom had curb appeal.
The Krom comes with Bluetooth, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, woven black and gray seat cloth, an upgraded audio system with six speakers and a subwoofer, Interface System for iPod, titanium interior trim accents, sporty aluminum trimmed pedals, automatic climate controls and a bit of ambient lighting. The Cube was quite comfortable.
Although my test vehicle didn't have satellite radio, I found the iPod interface very useful. Bluetooth made phone calls easier while I was driving and the subwoofer enhanced sound system was not bad.
I thought the Cube Krom handled real well and the ride was tame. I never would have guessed that I was in a small car. The hip point was relatively high and the wheels at the corner lay out provided for a stable ride. In fact the high silhouette would make you think that the Cube was top heavy but it wasn't. The center of gravity was pretty low.
I made some fairly sharp and aggressive turns but I never felt the Cube sway. It was solidly planted on the pavement. In fact, the car had an almost go-kart response to driver commands.
And the amount of interior space should not be understated. The Cube can carry five adults comfortably, although I would not want to be the middle person sitting in the back seat. Still, the floor was flat back there and that would make riding the hump a no-issue since there was no hump.
My Nissan Cube Krom was priced at $20,420. I found that pretty reasonable for car that you're not going to see in every other driveway.