2012 Nissan Juke Review and Prices

Last Updated: Sep 30, 2010

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2012 Nissan Juke Buying Advice

The 2012 Nissan Juke is the best small SUV for you if you’re looking for a wild-looking urban runabout at a reasonable price.

The 2012 Nissan Juke is a maneuverable little crossover that mixes the higher seating of an SUV with the urban utility of a hatchback. Juke was introduced for model-year 2011 and shouldn’t see any notable changes beyond a possible new color choice or two for model-year 2012. The 2012 Juke is Nissan’s entry into the growing field of subcompact crossovers that includes the 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and the 2012 Mini Countryman.

Should you wait for the 2012 Nissan Juke or buy a 2011 Nissan Juke? Buy the 2011 Juke if you want to catch the subcompact urban crossover wave while it’s fresh. Wait for the 2012 Juke if you’re not entirely comfortable as an early adopter and want a better sense of this unusual newcomer’s place in the automotive landscape – and its resale value. Either way, the Juke is not expected to undergo major changes for several model years.

2012 Nissan Juke Changes back to top

Styling: The 2012 Nissan Juke won’t change appearance for its second year on the market. The 2012 Nissan Juke will continue to share some design influence with the larger Nissan Rogue compact-class crossover. But Juke looks like it grew up in a tougher neighborhood. Where the Rogue is rounded and gentle-natured Juke is planed-off and edgy. Inspiration for the Juke came from Nissan’s feral Qazana concept car, which looks like a sports coupe jacked-up for high-speed off-road racing.

Juke is smaller than compact crossovers such as the Rogue, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4. Nissan positions it as a hipper, more youthful crossover alternative to subcompact cars such as the Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, and Toyota Yaris.

The 2012 Juke will continue as a five-passenger, four-door hatchback. It uses the same under-the-sheetmetal engineering the Versa – which is why it’s a “crossover.” A taller ride height and flared fenders give it SUV credentials, but the Juke has a low roofline that tapers in the rear. The final result is a tall sports coupe more suited to urban traffic fights than suburban grocery-getting.

Expect the 2012 Juke to return three levels of trim: base S, midlevel SV, and top-line SL. All should again have 17-inch alloy wheels, leaving the SL’s fog lamps as the main styling differentiator. Nissan may add to the 2012 Juke lineup a fourth model called the Krōm edition. Pronounced “chrome” and like similar treatments offered in other Nissan lines, the 2012 Juke Krōm would primarily be an exercise in dress-up with unique trim inside and out. 

Mechanical: The 2012 Nissan Juke will continue with a 1.6-liter turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder as its only engine. Output should remain 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Transmission choices will again be a six-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). A CVT performs the duties of an automatic but instead a limited number of gears it uses adjustable bands for a near seamless power delivery.

Every 2012 Juke model will continue available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD). The CVT should remain the sole transmission for AWD Jukes and for all S models. Front-wheel drive places the weight of the engine over the wheels that drive the vehicle, which improves traction in poor weather. It also concentrates the engine and transmission in the nose, which frees up space for passengers and cargo. Since Juke is an urban vehicle and not a trail-basher it uses a basic AWD system that normally operates in front-wheel drive but automatically shuttles power front-to-rear if the front tires slip. Computer controls can lock in a 50/50 front/rear torque split in low-traction conditions -- not all low-priced crossovers have such a feature. Fewer still match a capability Nissan calls “torque-vectoring.” This automatically directs up to 50 percent of an AWD Juke’s engine power to either rear wheel, a strategy designed to improve on-road control in fast corners. 

Another unique Juke feature is Nissan’s Integrated Control drive-mode selector, or I-CON. It’ll likely remain standard on SV and SL models with the CVT. I-CON enables drivers to choose Normal, Sport, and Eco modes. Each modifies throttle and steering systems and on CVT models, transmission mapping. Choosing Eco mode, for example, coordinates the most fuel-efficient settings. Setting it to Sport will tailor the systems for aggressive driving. Normal suits everyday driving. The system makes double use of a dashboard control screen and its associated touch-sensitive buttons. “Drive mode” controls and displays the performance-altering Normal, Sport, Eco settings and can also furnish such information as lateral g forces experienced while turning. In “climate” mode, the screen displays climate-system information and the touch buttons become as climate-control adjustments.

Front-wheel-drive Jukes will continue with a torsion-bar rear suspension and AWD versions an independent rear suspension. Electric power steering and four-wheel disc brakes with antilock control will remain standard, as will an antiskid system to help prevent sideways slides in corners.

Features: The 2012 Nissan Juke will remain targeted at a younger audience -- buyers early in their career climb, for example. In that vein, it’ll continue with an appropriate array of convenience and infotainment items.

Among returning standard features on the 2012 Juke will be Bluetooth hands-free cell-phone connectivity, driver-information and outside-temperature displays, and steering-wheel mounted Bluetooth and audio controls. Remote keyless entry should also remain standard on all Jukes, with push-button start and satellite radio standard on SV and SL models. Every 2012 Nissan Juke will again include cruise control and power door locks, mirrors, and windows. The power windows have one-touch up/down on both front windows. A tilting steering column will remain standard, and SV and SL models will continue with a power moonroof and leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Also likely to remain standard on 2012 Juke SL models and optional on SVs is a navigation system. It’s a cost-conscious setup that lacks voice activation and uses a relatively compact 5 inch dashboard screen. But opting for the navigation system gets you features such as a Rockford-Fosgate subwoofer, upgraded speakers, and a USB iPod interface. And buyers who pony up for the XM satellite radio subscription will likely continue to have access to real-time traffic information.

2012 Nissan Juke Prices back to top

Prices for the 2012 Nissan Juke won’t be announced until shortly before the vehicle goes on sale. But Nissan should continue to walk a line between low-to-mid-$20,000 prices that are affordable and equipment that entices Juke’s youth-oriented target buyers.

Estimated base price for the 2012 Nissan Rogue S model is $19,900 with front-wheel drive and $21,500 with AWD. (Estimated prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Nissan’s fee for the 2011 Juke was $750.)

Estimated base price for the 2012 Nissan Juke SV with front-wheel drive is $21,400 with the manual transmission and $22,000 with the CVT. Expect the 2012 Juke SV with AWD to start around $23,500.

The 2012 Nissan Juke SL model with front-wheel drive carries an estimated base price of $23,800 with manual transmission and $24,400 with the CVT. Expect the 2012 Juke SL with AWD to be priced around $25,900. A 2012 Nissan Juke Krōm edition would likely slot as the new top-line model and start around $25,300 with front-wheel drive and $27,400 with AWD.

If it follows the strategy used for the 2011 lineup, Nissan is likely to limit the 2012 Juke to a single factory-installed option, the navigation system for the SV model. It should again be reasonably priced at around $800 and include audio upgrades and USB iPod interface. Nissan will certainly continue to offer a host of factory-approved options available through the dealer, including gunmetal-finish 17-inch wheels, a rear roof spoiler, and myriad styling spiffs, such as chrome trim and illuminated kick plates.

2012 Nissan Juke Fuel Economy back to top

Gas-mileage figures for 2012 models were not announced in time for this review, but don’t expect 2012 Nissan Juke fuel-economy ratings to change. They’ll remain pretty strong, with every drivetrain combination rated at more than 30 mpg in highway driving. Still, Juke owners will probably continue to take a hit at the pump because Nissan recommends premium-octane gas for this turbocharged engine and there’s little chance that’ll change for model-year 2012.

Expect the 2012 Nissan Juke fuel-economy ratings to be 24/31 mpg city/highway with manual transmission and front-wheel drive, 27/32 with the CVT and front-wheel drive, and 25/30 with the CVT and AWD.

2012 Nissan Juke Release Date back to top

The 2012 Nissan Juke should be in showrooms by autumn 2011.

What's next for the 2012 Nissan Juke back to top

As evidenced from the quirky Cube wagon that’s also built off the versatile Versa platform, Nissan’s hardly averse to taking styling chances or to stretching the envelope of automotive market segments. Vehicles like Cube and Juke don’t need to sell in great numbers to be successes. It’s just as critical that they get the message across that Nissan’s a dynamic brand worthy of attention, especially the attention of young buyers who could become lifelong Nissan owners.

Given that, it’s difficult to predict much about the future of rolling experiments like the Juke. Its styling isn’t likely to change much over its lifespan beyond perhaps a minor tweaking a few years from now. Features and boutique trim treatments – think Krōm edition -- will come and go. If Juke gains enough of a toehold to win a permanent place in the Nissan model lineup expect a second-generation version around model-year 2016. What it’ll look like, probably even Nissan can’t yet be certain.

2012 Nissan Juke Competition back to top

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: A more conventional take on the subcompact-crossover theme is the Outlander Sport. It bowed as a 2011 model based on Mitsubishi’s Lancer small car but with a name and styling inspired by the Rogue-sized Mitsubishi Outlander compact SUV, this front- and all-wheel drive offers four-cylinder power along with a CVT.

Mini Cooper Countryman: Introduced in 2011 as the brand’s first crossover, the Countryman is 5.5 inches longer overall than the next-largest Mini, the Clubman. It is also an inch shorter in body length than the Juke but has a longer wheelbase and has a roomier rear seat that one would expect. Mini imbues this four-door wagon with the sassy Cooper image while adding additional ground clearance and available all-wheel drive in addition to front-wheel drive. Like the Juke, the Countryman has four-cylinder power and while it chases the same young, hip audience, Mini’s buyers will have to be a bit more affluent to afford its mid-$20,000 starting prices.

Hyundai Tucson: The Tucson and the Juke share swoopy styling themes, though the Tucson isn’t quite as edgy. Larger than the Juke inside and out, particularly for cargo volume, Tucson nonetheless competes with Juke on price. Front-drive models start around $20,000, AWD versions around $24,000. Like the others in this class, the Tucson has four-cylinder power exclusively. It was introduced in 2010, so we expect few changes anytime soon.

2012 Nissan Juke Next Steps