2011 Nissan Cube Review and Prices
The 2011 Nissan Cube is the best car for you if you appreciate the efficiency of a carton on wheels – and don’t care that it looks a little like a cartoon on wheels.
The 2011 Nissan Cube remains an eccentrically styled four-door wagon with surprising room for four big adults. Big news for model-year 2011 is first-time availability of a navigation system. Other additions include wider availability of Bluetooth mobile-phone connectivity and a new exterior color choice, Golden Ginger. Cube is based on the more conventional Nissan Versa compact car, but aims for an artsy, urban-hip vibe and sells for slightly more money, with a base-price range of $15,040-$21,940.
Should you buy the 2011 Nissan Cube or wait for a 2012 Nissan Cube? There’s little reason to wait, though buying a 2011 Cube mostly means you’ll be saddled with an aging design for a longer time. The Nissan Versa that donates its underskin engineering to the Cube is set to be fully redesigned for model-year 2012 or 2013, but the Cube isn’t likely to change until a model-year or two after Versa’s redesign. What form the next-generation Cube would take – or even if Nissan would in fact field a new version – is uncertain. In any event, no big changes are in store for the 2012 Cube, so buying a 2011 gets you into this box before the almost inevitable year-over-year price escalations.
2011 Nissan Cube Changes back to top
Styling: The 2011 Nissan Cube styling continues with the same blend of cute and weird it debuted with for model-year 2009. Cube has a pug nose, glassy upper body, and an unusual right-rear corner that uses black-out glass to create the illusion of an asymmetrical tail design. Cube is taller than it is wide, so you sit comfortably upright on chair-like seats. There are seatbelts for five, but the rear seat is really wide enough for just two adults. Outward visibility is quite good – you’ll even feel a little exposed behind those big windows. In fact, Cube’s window size is a drawback to keeping the cabin cool on hot, sunny days. And Cube needs bigger sun visors; swiveling them to the side blocks only a fraction of the solar spotlight assaulting the driver and front passenger.
A body just an inch longer than that of a standard Mini Cooper spells no-fuss city parking, though you’ll need to leave room behind for the large, side-hinged cargo door. The rear bench slides fore/aft to prioritize cargo or people space. Its seatbacks split and fold, but the lower cushions don’t. So despite in impressive-sounding 58-cubic-feet of maximum cargo volume, you can’t create a flat load floor. That detracts from some of the utility promised by this boxy body. The cabin design itself is fairly traditional, with a simple, user-friendly dashboard, though the symmetrical-circle design in the headliner is truly odd.
The 2011 Nissan Cube is offered in four models, labeled 1.8, 1.8 S, 1.8 SL, and 1.8 Krōm Edition. The last, pronounced “chrome,” has subtly different front and rear styling and some exclusive interior trim. Cube 1.8 and 1.8 S models come with 15-inch tires with wheel covers; 1.8 SL and 1.8 Krōm Edition models come with 16-inch alloys. Different wheels and aero body panels are also available for all models.
Mechanical: The 2011 Nissan Cube carries over mechanically unchanged. In contrast to its funky image, Cube is quite orthodox mechanically. Based on the Versa’s proven platform and powertrain, the Cube has front-wheel drive, a beam rear axle, and rear drum brakes.
A 122-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder continues as the 2011 Cube’s sole engine and is again rated at 122 horsepower and 127-pound-feet of torque. The price-leader 1.8 model is offered only with a six-speed manual transmission. The 1.8 S offers a choice of the six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT), while the Cube 1.8 SL and 1.8 Krōm come only with the CVT. A CVT performs the duties of an automatic but dispenses with individual gears for a rheostat-like delivery of power.
Standard on every 2011 Nissan Cube are antilock brakes with brake assist, plus traction-control and antiskid systems. Seat mounted front side airbags and head-protecting curtain side airbags for both seating rows are likewise included.
The 2011 Nissan Cube is fun to drive, with lively acceleration and an impressively absorbent ride. It’s nimble, and though cornering limits are modest, Cube is what driving enthusiasts term pleasantly “tossable.” The unaerodynamic shape would seem to invite instability in crosswinds and in semitrailer slipstreams, but Cube is quite stable on the highway. It isn’t quiet, however. Copious wind and road noise drums its way through body panels and door glass that somehow seems thinner and less well-insulated than in other cars of this size and price.
Features: The 2011 Nissan Cube comes reasonably well equipped with amenities like air conditioning, power windows, mirrors, and locks, remote keyless entry, and an intermittent rear wiper. Detachable hooks for bags can be affixed to the dashboard or doors and you can secure maps, cell phones and the like via plastic straps on the door armrests.
The new-for-Cube navigation system is part of the Preferred Package option for SL models and is standard on the 1.8 S Krōm Edition. This navigation setup is one of Nissan’s rather basic units; it doesn’t include voice recognition, for example, and uses a modestly sized 5-inch diameter dashboard touchscreen. But it’s a worthwhile accessory that uses an SD memory-card-based software and includes XM satellite radio and NavTraffic capability and a USB iPod interface Package.
Depending on the model, other available features include pushbutton ignition, a Rockford Fosgate audio system with subwoofer with six speakers, and a rear-view monitor for easier and safer parking. Eccentricities include “shag” carpeting for some interior shelf surfaces and a 20-color cabin-accent lighting kit.
2011 Nissan Cube Prices back to top
Base-price range for the 2011 Nissan Cube is $15,040-$21,940. By comparison, the 2010 Cube’s base-price range was $14,710-$20,850. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination charges; Nissan’s fee is $720 for the 2011 Cube.)
The 2011 Nissan Cube base 1.8 model comes only with a manual transmission and starts at $15,040. The 1.8 is additionally offered in a Cargo version, which takes a “less costs more” approach by deleting the back seat and rear cupholders as part of a $3,200 extra-cost option.
The 2011 Nissan Cube 1.8 S adds to the base 1.8 model a Bluetooth mobile phone interface, six-speaker audio array, and upgraded cloth seats. The 2011 Cube 1.8 S starts at $16,400 with the manual transmission and $17,400 with the CVT automatic.
The 2011 Cube 1.8 SL includes the CVT and items like automatic climate control and 16-inch alloy wheels. Base price for the 2011 Cube 1,8 SL is $18,500.
The 2011 Cube 1.8 Krōm Edition includes among its standard features the navigation system, upgraded audio system, rear view monitor, keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, and assorted trim items. Base price for the 2011 Cube 1.8 Krōm Edition is $21,940.
Among options for the 2011 Nissan Cube, the SL Preferred Package costs $1,850 and adds the navigation system with USB interface, keyless entry and pushbutton start, a rearview monitor, and an upgraded Rockford Fosgate audio system with XM satellite radio.
An Exterior Accent Package for 1.8 S and 1.8 SL versions costs $320, while the Interior Designer Package with upgraded interior appointments costs $230 for all models. An aerodynamic body kit for 1.8 S and 1.8 SL versions is priced at $1,300, while a Sport Package for the 1.8 S costs $2,100. Adding either silver or gunmetal 16-inch wheels to the 1.8 SL will set you back $790. A rear cargo organizer costs $180.
2011 Nissan Cube Fuel Economy back to top
The 2011 Nissan Cube fuel-economy ratings are unchanged from model-year 2010. They are 25/30 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and 27/31 with the CVT automatic. By comparison, a 1.8-liter Versa hatchback with the same powertrains is rated at 26/31 and 28/34.
That’s evidence of the mileage penalty extracted by Cube’s wind-hostile shape and relatively pudgy curb weight compared to many models in its size class. The 2011 Cube tips the scales at 2,768 pounds for the lightest. By comparison, the 2012 Versa hatchback weighs 2,693 pounds and the 2011 Honda Fit starts at 2,489 pounds.
2011 Nissan Cube Release Date back to top
The 2011 Nissan Cube went on sale in December 2010.
What's next for the 2011 Nissan Cube back to top
Cube is a niche product for a Nissan brand trying to attract some of the geek vibe surrounding the squared-up Scion xB and the soon-to-be-discontinued Honda Element. Cube didn’t get off to a smashing sales start; it’s by far the oddest-looking of its ilk, and it had the misfortune to launch around the same time as the Kia Soul, a slightly larger boxy wagon with less polarizing styling.
Cube’s future hinges on whether Nissan believes there’s a market for a second-generation version and what development resources it’s willing to devote to take it to the next nerd-chic level.
As for timing, the Versa, which provides Cube’s basic under-skin engineering, will move to an all-new platform for model-year 2012. Nissan doesn’t seem ready to revamp the Cube that soon. It could maintain Cube for a few additional years on the leftover Versa platform, or move it to the new Versa chassis sometime after model-year 2012.
2011 Nissan Cube Competition back to top
2011 Honda Fit: Attracted to the automotive fringe but want something more aerodynamic than the Cube? Try this four-door wagon that matches Cube for passenger space but beats it with a club for cargo room thanks to ingenious rear seats that flip, fold, and flop. The front-wheel-drive four-cylinder Fit has genuinely sporty handling, too. With 117 horsepower but great weight management acceleration is decent and fuel-economy ratings are a friendly 28/35 mpg with a automatic transmission and 27/33 with manual. An available voice-activated navigation system gives it a feature many rivals lack. Stability control is newly standard for 2011, as is cruise control, remote entry, and a USB interface. Base-price range is $15,850-$17,610. Fit won’t see major changes until well after model year 2012.
2011 Scion xB: Larger and even boxier than the Cube, this solidly built five-seat wagon from Toyota’s youth-oriented division is the most refined of the bizarre-car brigade. It’s the roomiest and most comfortable, too. Performance is good thanks to a torque 158-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder, but fuel economy is a relatively modest 22/30 with both the five-speed manual transmission and the four-speed automatic. The 2011 xB gains a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and minor styling tweaks. Prices start at $16,670 with manual transmission and $17,620 with automatic. The xB won’t change drastically before model-year 2013.
2011 Kia Soul: Somehow the new-for-2010 Soul stole what sales were to be had in the weird-wheels class. Credit its approachable styling and attractive pricing. The loss-leader version starts at $13,995 with a 122-horsepower four and ratings of 26.31 mpg with the mandatory manual transmission. Models with the 142-horse four have a base-price range of $16,190-$19,190 and rate 24/30 with the manual or a four-speed automatic. Kia is a branch of the South Korean automaker Hyundai and Soul buyers get lots of features for the buck. Driving manners, however, are not quite as polished as the competition’s. Soul won’t change until after model-year 2013.