Taking a long-distance ride in the Juke necessitates a few modifications to my usual pre-drive preparations. Take, for example, packing. It isn’t exactly “normal” in the Juke. On my recent trip to Las Vegas, stuffing the paltry 10.5 cu-ft of rear cargo space was as easy as throwing in my girlfriend’s duffle bag and my backpack. Shortly thereafter, we laughed at how the trunk barely accommodated our stuff. For reference, our little green Mazda2 long termer has more space (13.3 cu-ft) than Nissan’s smallest and funkiest CUV. Imagine that.
But when there’s just two riding along, space isn’t really that much of an issue, really; it is when your buddy and his girlfriend join that the cutesy cabin quickly shrinks. Thankfully, my girlfriend is a lightweight when it comes to luggage. But unfortunately, she is a heavyweight when it comes to shopping, and there are plenty of outlet stores on the way to Sin City. So ahead of our departure from LA, I folded the second row seat for an extra 25.4 cu-ft of space. Sure enough, just a few hours into the trip, a family of branded bags gave us company.
Next, came music selection. Admittedly, picking music isn’t all that abnormal — everyone does it all the time. But in the Juke, the available options are surprising for such a relatively cheap segment player. The lower dash conveniently has both USB and auxiliary inputs that can accommodate a number of music devises. They’re located near the cup holders for easy access. There is also Sirius XM radio. I preferred an iPhone/iPod arrangement, which my copilot-turned-DJ took over at first chance. Our Top 40 pop tunes pumped through a nice sounding Rockford Fosgate system, but it’s no match against any Windex-clear Nissan/Infiniti Bose setup. Then again, it’s more likely the aforementioned input jacks will catch more attention from the targeted twenty-something buyers than stellar audio quality.
Finally, since the Juke isn’t the best choice for high mpgs and an extended range, I planned our potential gas station stops accordingly. I don’t think I’ve ever had range anxiety in something that doesn’t connect to a wall charger, but remember, this is a thirsty Juke. Designated fuel stops also served as good places to resuscitate the lower back and hindquarters. The sporty cloth seats are nice for short trips in the city, but not multi-hour desert runs on high-speed, low-entertainment roads.
Halfway through our four-hour drive, I noticed only a handful of other Jukes on the road. In LA proper, they’re as common as out-of-work actors. This is a rarified ride in the desert. At one gas station, a fellow gas-filler mentioned he had never really seen a Juke up close. “It’s definitely different,” he said as he examined the front fascia. Nearly everything about this car is just that – different. Save for the standard operating procedure of the pedals, steering wheel, and seatbelt, you’ll be doing something different when a Juke is in your driveway. In that sense, Nissan undoubtedly nailed it.
October 03, 2011
By Nate Martinez