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2011 Nissan Juke First Drive

I’m starting with a list of the Jukes negative aspects.  For all of you Juke haters it will be annoying, because it’s very short.  To all those who are excited about the Juke, don’t worry.  It’s kind of like pulling off a band-aid.  It’s over before you know it and you can get on with more important things.

First off let’s just state the obvious; it does have a face only a mother could love.  And the rear end is the same way.  No one can argue that.  But for some reason I really like the looks of the Juke, the same way that I love looking at Tilda Swinton…don’t judge.  There’s just something about them both that I find really attractive.

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Second of all, it’s just downright small.  One of the first things I did was jump in the passenger seat.  Not many reviewers think about that side of the car for some reason but I’ve had many opportunities to be in a passenger seat for extended periods so maybe it just stands out to me.  In order for me, a 5’10” AVERAGE SIZED guy…to be comfortable, I had to pull the seat all the way back.  Next stop was the rear seat behind it.  Like Vegas, it’s a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.  Spending any amount of time behind someone in the passenger seat of the Juke won’t endear you to this car at all.  Kind of makes the 6 large sized cup holders a little pointless.  Now here is why I don’t care about any of that.


Many reviewers are talking about how the Juke will shake up the Crossover “Segment” when the truth of the matter is that The Juke really isn’t for the long family haul, or even for grocery getting.  In fact Nissan is in effect creating a new segment of Sports Cross.  Think Compact Utility Vehicle.  Throw in the obviously sporty influence added by the turbo and you have yourself a bonafied sports car. Here are the factors to consider.

When you sit in the Juke, regardless of what seat you’re in including the back, the first thing you notice is how firm yet comfortable they are.  Most cars are one or the other, super stiff because there maid of cardboard and fabric or ultra soft like sofa seats for a luxury ride.  The Juke brings a mix of both and support you with side bolsters meant to keep you centered in the seat.  Hmm…why would you need something to keep you in the middle of your seat?

After asking if there were any really nice country roads near my drive location I came across Ball Rd. which I believe was named after the set of equipment you need to drive on it.  In that environment the Juke lets you know exactly why Nissan built it.

In any one of the corners that day all you had to do was feed in just a little bit of the accelerator and the car actually hunkers a bit closer to the road and turns into the corner confidently.  A bit too confidently.  Also, because of how quickly the turbo spools you can easily find yourself going a lot faster than you want or intend to.  Any decent application of break actually starts to cause the Juke to very slowly yet very deliberately over-steer.  Normally any over-steer in passenger cars us tuned out by a manufacturer but for the Juke to be allowed this characteristic and for it to be as predictable as it was is superb.

This is all thanks to Nissans Torque Vectoring AWD or AWD-V.  Thru use of Wheel Speed sensors, Steering Angle sensors, Accelerator sensors, Yaw Rate sensor, a 4WD Controller and Compact Read Drive unit that acts as a differential the AWD-V is capable of going from a 50/0 front rear torque split to an almost infinite number of combinations between all wheels.  In a corner the outside rear wheel gets more torque to keep it planted which is what causes the car to hunker down and pull strongly thru a corner.

Add this technology to a turbo inline 4-cylinder that produces 188 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque and you have a very fun car indeed.  All while getting 27 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.  Unfortunately I was having way too much fun with the Juke to realize those figures.

While back roads are fun, you aren’t really going to be on them all day.  Most of us have to put up with other drivers making a nasty thing called traffic.  And I have to admit, me and the Juke both share something in common when it comes to traffic.  We both hate it.  I dislike most drivers because most are pretty clueless about how to do it.  The Juke can’t stand it because it wants to start developing boost at 2,000 RPM.  It delivers full boost around 3,300k.  While in traffic you actually have to remind yourself to let off the gas pedal while driving the Juke.  It has more than enough juice on tap to get you moving but wants to keep it flowing well past when you no longer need it.  Great for passing and clearing intersections, not so much in light to light or stop and go traffic.

Then there are typical Nissan electronics to consider.  For whatever reason, it’s actually possible to turn off the car while it’s “in gear”.  I inadvertently did so when I finished my drive.  Please don’t do this and leave the car free to move about.

However I was impressed with one electrical feature.

It’s the silliest thing, but I can’t get over the way the words that tell you what button is what on the climate control actually changes to other words when switching from Climate Display to “D-Mode”.  They look like little tinted LCD screens that go from deep and rich amber to a glowing frosty white…in a button.  Nothing more than a flourish or a trinket, but one that I simply couldn’t get enough of.  I must have pressed those buttons some 20 times.

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There was one button though that I got absolutely annoyed with pushing over and over and over again.

In today’s “connected” world, hands-free technology is becoming more and more important.  So the Bluetooth connectivity in the Juke is especially important to take a look at.  Now I must say that when I got my phone paired up and established on a call me and my caller had nothing but praise for the experience.  Voices did not have to be raised to hear each other and the Juke gives almost no road noise to speak of.  On the other hand, you have to get to that point before you can enjoy it.

After pressing the hands-free activation button you are presented with menu options that help you get familiar with the system.  Then you press the activation button again and speak your command.  Then sit thru another list, press the activation button again and speak another command.  This repeats every time you decide to use the system.  Quite frankly if IM going to have to speak all of my commands anyway I would much rather avoid having to press a button every time I do it.  Much like the hands-free system I enjoyed in the Mitsubishi Outlander I enjoyed in November.

All in all the all new 2011 Nissan Juke is a joy to drive, screams individuality and surprises you at every turn…depending on how deep your foot is in the accelerator.  I have to be honest when I say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

My love of cars over the years has been greatly refined and there are a few essentials I need in order to enjoy my driving experience.  Because of that I am a very picky person that is really hard to please when it comes to cars.  To be honest, with the Juke, I had to use two hands to count how many times I thought about sitting down at a table with a sales rep when I got back.

So do yourself a favor.  Go drive the Nissan Juke yesterday.  But please leave your checkbook as this is a very hard one to resist.

Visit the guys at for more information on how you can test drive the Nissan Juke and enjoy pictures from our test drive below.

Subaru Rally Team USA Test Session- VIDEO

Rally Drivers are widely considered some of the best drivers on earth and Subaru is on of the most respected Rally teams on the market. Take a look at this video of Subaru’s newest driver the extremely accomplished driver Dave Mirra as he takes out the Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car for the very first time at the teams proving grounds in Upstate NY.

Video of the day

This video of the day comes from the guys over at MotorTrend who are pitting 2 Italian beauties against each other in various road tests, the Ferrari 458 Italia and the Ducati 1198S. Its a very entertaining video even if you have a good idea of the victor. Check it out:

Range Rover Evoque Live At The L.A. Auto Show

More live coverage of possibly the hottest event in the industry this season.  This time we bring you the live premier of the new Range Rover Evoque.

Jaguar C-X75 Debut At The L.A. Auto Show

One of the most influential vehicles of the future may just be the Jaguar C-X75.  Watch its debut live at the Los Angeles Motor Show.

First Drive: 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander

Having researched a few impressions of the Outlander earlier in the week I honestly wasn’t looking forward to driving it.  This however is a true case of “believe half of what you see, and some or none of what you hear”.  I absolutely loved the Mitsubishi Outlander.

Let’s get right down to it.  I don’t know what the other reviewers are talking about.  Sure with the 4 cylinder in the ES and SE trim levels you won’t be winning any drag competitions at the local street races but of course that’s not what this car is meant for.  As far as meat and potatoes driving goes, the Outlander comes with a lot of side items.

The first thing that struck me was the standard magnesium-alloy paddle-shifters.  Seriously, paddle shifters on a crossover SUV?  Tip-tronic and sport-tronic semi-sequential gearboxes of the past could at best only aspire to be sloppy.  But the technology is now over a decade old and in many mass produced passenger cars.  Yet this is the first I’ve ever experienced one attached to a CVT Transmission; another new piece of technology that has come a long way in the last few years.

As I got in and looked around the canvas that Mitsubishi prepared I could tell that while simple and stylish were key design features for the dash of the Outlander, quality materials were not.  Then I made the mistake of adjusting the seat.  I say that because even the seat rails were noise and almost squeaked “cheap” as they moved.  Once locked in place though, they dramatically changed the tune of the 2010 Outlander for the better.

As I adjusted the mirrors, tilted the steering wheel and locked in DC 101 for my trip, I couldn’t help but notice that everything else had a nice solid feel to it.  While you may adjust a seat once or twice a year depending on how many drivers are in your family, the regularly used components of my test vehicle felt like they were more than up to handling daily abuse.  Looking at the information display between the Tachometer and Speedometer you get the feeling that you are in a large European sedan instead of an American SUV because the readout is exactly the same as more expensive VW’s and Audis.  The 4 cylinder did make a bit of noise after starting but settled in seconds after the car came to life.  From there the improvements continued.

As I moved the car to leave the parking lot I could tell that the ride was very solid and firm.  While those seat rails may have sounded cheap, again, when they locked into place they did a great job of tying the seat into the rest of the vehicle.

Pulling out into a very wide open area free of traffic I was able to allow the Outlander to come up to speed at leisure.  I wanted to get a good sense of the sluggishness many others have reported.  To be fair the Outlander does take its time to accelerate in the 4 cylinder trim due to the 168 HP it produces.  The XLS and GT packages come with a 3.0 liter 6 cylinder to solve that issue but truth be told, you really don’t needed it.  After deciding to see what the Outlander was made of I gave it a little stick and it woke up quite nicely.  The CVT transmission definitely is something to get used to as it will choose a RPM to maintain as it delivers performance based on gas pedal position.  I honestly feel that this is where the sluggish rumor comes from, because while joining the highway I was presented with a very different animal all together.

While merging I found that only having 4 cylinders could never be described as a problem with this SUV.  The CVT was very responsive, dropped several ratios and gave everything the little engine that could had.  I actually felt a slight kick in the pants from that 168 HP.  Any other time you are cruising along and are only trying to accelerate at a very mild rate the CVT only changes a little to bring your speed up.  But when it comes to the issue of passing out of necessity, simply put your foot down and it knows you mean business.  Even in the sport-tronic shift mode.

Leaving the highway there was a need to pass a slower vehicle in order to take the exit.  With just a tap of the left shift paddle I feel the CVT actually responds quicker than a regular automatic in my opinion when downshifting to deliver the desired power.  In the exiting lane you can simply brake to your desired speed and continue to downshift as needed and again, the CVT is right there in the range you need to merge back into traffic.  This was really building up my appetite for the Outlander Sport.

It was time to stop to take a few notes.  As I noted, I noticed, a little face on one of the buttons on the steering wheel.  Leave it to a time like this for my ADD to flare up, but I’m glad it did.  A quick press revealed that it was for hands-free Bluetooth activation.  The Bluetooth system the Outlander is equipped with is quite impressive.  Before I describe why im overjoyed with it let me tell you that I am by and far NOT a technology buff.  In fact I am usually one of the last people to adopt any type of new technology or system.  But its Bluetooth, it can’t be that hard Jon.  Well I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t.  Interacting with the systems voice command it was easy to setup a new connection, have my phone sync and voice dial a call.

On the down side my listener did complain of a fair bit of road noise while I was in motion, remarking that it sounded as if I were driving with the windows down even though they were fully up.  But as far as buy or no buy complaints about a cars features goes, it really isn’t one to hold against the Outlander.

I really did go into this test drive seeing nothing but the pretty face of a revised front end chasing the popularity of the Lancer Evolution and didn’t plan on enjoying myself at all.  I am happy though that I and other reviews we’re proven wrong.  Which doesn’t happen very often, but it did today.  While there are many other reasons to check out the new Outlander, there are a handful of really big selling points that prove the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander is one of the Crossover SUVs to buy.

One a rather serious engine that gives you performance when you need it and can be sensible every other time and deliver 23 city-MPG and 28 highway.  Solid build quality with a confident and firm ride.  Advanced technology that is up to speed with more advanced competitors.  Above all a price that won’t leave your wallet and spouse asking…”What were you thinking?!”  In fact if you drive by your local Mitsubishi dealer without experiencing the Outlander for yourself, you can think of me asking you now…What are you thinking?!”

A big thanks to the staff at Hagerstown’s Younger Mitsubishi for a fun ride.  To check out the 2010 Outlander for yourself just give them a call and schedule a test drive.  You can find all of their information here:  www.youngermitsubishi.com

Live 2010 SEMA coverage all day today, thanks Chevy!

    We are happy our Media Partners at chevy could provide us with a live video feed for the show.  We will be showing you coverage from the 2010 SEMA show all day today (Tueseday) from the show floor as well as. Interviews with Chevy and GM Performance Parts engineers, designers and special guests from the biggest and most exciting auto enthusiast convention in the world, streaming live Tuesday, November 2, from 9 am – 5 pm from the show floor and on-demand after the show closes for the night.

New Chevrolet Camaro Convertibles?!

Chevrolet and Neiman Marcus team up this year to make one very special item for their annual christmas book.  The Neiman Marcus Edition Chevrolet Camaro Convertible.

A pretty special Camaro SS Convertible

Every year Neiman Marcus publishes its christmas book full of limited and special edition items just for the holiday season and this year they have put together a truly special product.  Too bad you’ll never have one.  At least not until one of only 100 owners decides to sell theirs because all 100 of the Special Edition Neiman Marcus Camaro Convertibles were sold-out in just 3 minutes.

At first I thought, well here we go.  Another Chevy marketing ploy.  For instance, I never wanted to own a Convirtablel Camaro, until I read about some of the features this Limited Edition Camaro comes with.

In the Spring of 2011, just after the 2011 Camaro arives in showrooms, the owners will be able to take delivery of SS model convertibles with a 6.2-liter, V-8 engine with 6-speed manual or automatic.  But the juicy bits come on the exterior package inspired by the luxury brand of Neiman Marcus itself.  Each will come with an exclusive Deep Bordeaux exterior color, accented by subtle, “ghosted” rally stripes. The exterior color is complimented by a matching fabric top and windshield frame finished in matte silver, both also exclusive to the Neiman Marcus edition.

As you can see, a truy pretty combination.  Worth the $75,000 price tag?  Who knows.  Certainly not for a Camaro, but for a limited edition of just 100 with such beautiful color combinations…yeah.  Im in.