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2013 Nissan Juke Nismo

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Cheryl Nissanby Cheryl Eldridge

Have you ever experienced a thrill or rush from driving a car? Well last week’s tester, not only gives you a rush, it took my breath away.
My 7-year-old son normally doesn’t say anything about the automobiles that I test, that is, unless it’s sexy and has torque and horsepower, so when he saw that I was test driving a sporty-car, he jumped in and told me to drive fast.
My son enjoyed watching me shift gears in my sapphire black 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo. Most people think that the car is a Fiat 500 or Porsche Cayenne.
Nissan has really raised the bar in styling. Go Nissan engineers!
My manual transmission tester 2013 Nissan Juke is offered in four trim levels: base S, well-equipped SV and SL and the top-of-the-line Nismo. By the way, there is an unnoticeable ring around the stick that must be pulled up when shifting to reverse. You learn something new each day!
Standard equipment on the entry-level S model includes 17-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, keyless entry, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-only steering wheel, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio input jack.
The midrange SV adds a sunroof, rear privacy glass, keyless entry/ignition, automatic climate control, upgraded upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, satellite radio and the Integrated Control (I-Con) system that allows you to select Normal, Sport and Eco (Economy) settings for throttle, steering and transmission (with the CVT) response. The optional Navigation package gets you a touchscreen navigation system (based on an SD card) with a new rearview camera and real-time traffic info, plus an upgraded Rockford Fosgate audio system with a subwoofer and a USB/iPod interface.
The SL comes standard with all of the above, plus automatic headlights, foglights, leather upholstery and heated front seats.
My top of the line tester, Juke Nismo is slightly more powerful and also has a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, unique exterior and interior styling details, and front sport seats.
Other options include a Sport package (rear spoiler, stainless-steel exhaust outlet and unique wheels), a Chrome package (door handles, mirrors and side molding), a Midnight Edition package (black-painted wheels, spoiler and mirror covers) and an Interior Illumination package (accent lighting and illuminated door sill plates).
Under the hood, the 2013 Nissan Juke gets a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-4 engine that sends 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. The Juke Nismo is equipped with the same engine, but here it has been tuned to produce 197 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque.
A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is standard on the S trim. The SV and SL offer a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or the CVT. The front-wheel-drive Nismo comes standard with the same six-speed manual. All four trims can also be had with all-wheel drive, in which case the CVT is the only transmission offered.
In Edmunds testing, a front-wheel-drive Juke with a CVT went from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, an impressively quick time for this category. An all-wheel-drive model was essentially just as quick.
EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 27 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and the CVT. Opting for the manual transmission or AWD will drop those numbers down a couple of mpg.
The 2013 Nissan Juke comes with a long list of standard safety features including antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the Juke stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet, an average distance for a small car. The Nismo, with its summer-rated tires, was better at 114 feet.
In government crash tests, the Juke received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with three stars for frontal-impact protection (four stars driver, three stars front passenger) and five stars for side-impact protection. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Juke scored a “Good” rating – the highest possible – in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests.
On the inside, the  2013 Nissan Juke offers a passenger cabin that’s nearly as ambitious-looking as its exterior. There are a lot of organic curves and body-colored surfaces, and silver accents add cheerful ambience. But there’s no shortage of hard surfaces, since this is meant to be a sporty sort of environment. To its credit, the Juke’s controls are large and easy to navigate, and the cabin features lots of thoughtful storage compartments.
The front seats are comfortable, with substantial side bolsters well suited to enthusiastic driving. A steering wheel that tilts but doesn’t telescope may make it harder for some drivers to get comfortable, though. A shortage of headroom makes the rear seats best for shorter adults and kids.
The Juke’s cargo area offers just 10 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 36 cubic feet with those seatbacks folded down.
When it comes to performance, the 2013 Nissan Juke has multiple personalities. With the I-Con settings on the Eco mode, acceleration is leisurely while fuel economy is maximized. In the Sport mode the driving experience is noticeably more lively, though gas mileage naturally suffers.
The rest of the Juke’s hardware shines on a winding stretch of two-lane asphalt, where the nicely weighted steering feel and firm suspension work together to deliver surprisingly engaging handling. The ride quality is passable over smooth pavement, though this utility feels a little stiff-legged compared to its family-oriented rivals. The cabin also fills with a fair amount of wind and road noise, though most buyers should find it tolerable enough.
My tester’s cost was $25,195.
Until next week, drive safe and buckle up, and don’t ‘text and drive, it’s the law.