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#14

in 2011 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $9,987 - $13,520
Original MSRP: $14,740 - $21,640
MPG: 25 City / 30 Hwy
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2011 Nissan Cube Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2011 Nissan Cube isn’t designed for speed, but test drivers concede that it’s perfect for people living in the city who want a hip car to drive to work.

  • "Cube's engine is vocal during rapid acceleration, but quiets down at cruise. Coarse-surface tire thrum is very noticeable, even at low speeds." -- Consumer Guide
  • "I have no reason to believe the Cube is unstable, and it has a standard electronic stability system, but it does feel more top-heavy than the other boxes and definitely more so than conventional cars. It's also more susceptible to crosswinds, as I learned on a gusty day of highway driving." -- Cars.com
  • "Nissan marketers admit the success of the Cube will not be achieved through performance. Zipping around streets? Yes. Racing down them? No. The handling isn't as responsive as that of other Nissan vehicles, but it's not designed for that. And with a 1.8L 4-cylinder, 122-horsepower engine, neither is the Cube designed for speed. But it's enough power for tooling around the city." -- CNET

Acceleration and Power

Even though the 2011 Nissan Cube prioritizes style over performance, this car is incapable of city and highway driving. All Cubes come with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 122 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard with the base and S trims, but you can opt for a continuously variable transmission with on the S trim. A CVT is standard with the SL trim. 

The EPA says the Cube averages 27/31 mpg city/highway with the automatic transmission and 25/30 mpg with the manual transmission. These ratings aren’t bad, but the competition does better. The Ford Fiesta and the Honda Fit have great fuel economy ratings, but they don’t have a funky attitude like the Cube. The Kia Soul and the Scion xB also have a boxy shape, but their ratings are lower: 26/31 mpg and 22/28 mpg, respectively. If you want a box car, you’ll have to sacrifice fuel economy for aesthetics.

  • "No ball of fire, but with either transmission, Cube has little trouble keeping up with urban traffic. Versions with the CVT feel a bit livelier from a stop than those with the 6-speed manual transmission." -- Consumer Guide
  • "But for city stop-and-go driving, the CVT automatic is the best choice. It's quite smooth, with no discernible shift points, and there doesn't seem to be any loss of power compared with the manual version." -- Cars.com
  • "Driving enthusiasts won't find much to get excited about, but as daily transportation the Cube works great." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

Considering the 2011 Nissan Cube is a fancy box on wheels, reviewers are impressed with the way it drives. Steering is light and stiffens at higher speeds. Plus the Cube is easy to maneuver in and out of parking spaces. Still, the Cube isn’t the most agile compact car.

  • "For a basic economy car, Cube is fairly nimble and pleasant to drive. The precise steering has light effort at low speeds, but it builds nicely as the pace quickens. Close-quarters maneuverability is good thanks to Cube's small footprint. Braking control is good." -- Consumer Guide
  • "On the upside, the short wheelbase and tight turning radius makes it easy to turn around midstreet (not typically legal) to snag an open parking spot." -- CNET
  • "Minor quibbles aside, the Nissan Cube excels at providing a pleasant ride, especially within the narrow confines of an urban environment where its tight turning radius, compact dimensions and optional rear parking sensors make the Cube maneuverable and easy to park." -- Kelley Blue Book

Next Steps: 2011 Nissan Cube

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