The Nissan Juke gets a revised front and rear appearance and added features for the 2015 model year. When the quirky Juke subcompact sport-utility was introduced for 2011, it had little competition in North America.
Four years later, however, this refreshed 2015 Juke faces competition from several interesting new entries, including the Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3. All are small crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) derived from subcompact cars.
Juke comes standard with front-wheel drive but offers the option of all-wheel drive (AWD).
With quirky styling, good performance and decent cargo space, the Juke is nearly as practical as it is fun to drive. The name Juke suggests flitting around town, as a boxer might juke around the ring, and that’s just what it does: The Nissan Juke is a great car for running errands, hauling small stuff, jumping in and out and parking in tight places. With responsive steering, it hugs twisty roads, though with its short wheelbase and big 17-inch wheels, you do feel the bumps.
Nissan calls the Juke a sport cross, meaning a blend of sports car and crossover utility vehicle. Built on the Nissan Versa platform, Juke is seven inches shorter and three inches wider than the Versa hatchback. Its polarizing, mutant-insect appearance isn’t for everyone, but it’s a hit with buyers who appreciate unusual, eye-catching design in a convenient runabout.
That appearance hasn’t changed much until now, but for 2015 Nissan Juke gets new front and rear fascias with Nissan’s V-Motion grille, projector-beam headlamps and LED front accent lamps complimented in back by revised (Nissan 370Z-like) boomerang taillamps with LED accents. The 2015 Juke also gets LED turn signal repeaters on its outside mirrors, a host of new features, and three new colors (Super Black, Solar Yellow and Cosmic Blue).
Newly standard for 2015 are a RearView Monitor camera, Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Start, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System and Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant, while NissanConnect with Navigation and Mobile Apps and an Around View Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection are newly available.
The second-generation 1.6-liter 16-valve DOHC Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) turbocharged aluminum four-cylinder still makes the same 188 horsepower and 177 pound feet of torque, but with improved fuel efficiency and responsiveness along with lower emissions for 2015.
The new Juke Color Studio program enables buyers to choose custom colors for the front and rear fascia, headlamps, side sills, door handles, mirror caps, rear roof spoiler, and the 17-inch alloy wheels along with select interior pieces including the heater vents. With eight available colors from which to choose, you can match the colors of your favorite sports teams or create your own personalized look.
A performance-oriented Nismo model with a more aggressive exterior, stiffer suspension on 18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, red-stitched synthetic suede interior trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob was added in mid-2013. And that was followed in spring 2014 by a higher-performance Nismo RS, elevating the model count to five: Juke S, Juke SV, Juke SL, Juke Nismo, Juke Nismo RS. All offer a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
Most models come with Nissan’s 6-step Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) with Manual Mode and D-step Logic Control, which simulates shifts to make it feel like a conventional automatic. Nismo models offer a choice of a 6-speed manual with front-wheel drive or a NISMO-tuned Xtronic CVT with all-wheel drive. The torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system divides torque up to 50/50 front-to-rear and can split the rear portion side-to-side to enhance cornering stability.
Juke can seat five, though we don’t think many adults will want to ride in the rear-center seat for long. It’s more comfortable for four. The comfortable front seats are covered in sporty fabric in the Juke SV, leather in the Juke SL, or synthetic suede in Juke Nismo. The distinctive center console is designed to look like a motorcycle gas tank with its hard plastic trim painted glossy silver or metallic red. Folded flat, the standard 60/40 rear seat provides good cargo space behind the front seat.
Fuel economy for the Juke CVT FWD is an EPA-estimated 28/32 mpg City/Highway, or 30 mpg Combined (up one mpg from 2014) and 26/31/28 mpg for Juke CVT AWD. The more powerful 2015 Juke Nismo RS is rated at 215 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque (or 211 hp and 184 lb-ft with AWD), down slightly from 2014. The slightly larger but lighter 1.4-liter turbocharged Chevrolet Trax is similarly rated at 26/34/29 mpg with its 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, 24/31/27 mpg with AWD.
Juke’s CVT is a good one. It can be used like an automatic, shifted into Drive and forgotten, or (unlike some) shifted manually through its six speed ranges. The 6-speed manual available on front-wheel drive Juke Nismo models is more fun, especially on the Nismo RS, but power-on torque steer can be annoying.