2010 Nissan cube 1.8 SL

Our last vehicular visit with Nissan was with the Sentra, which led to the conclusion that it is an adequate if uninspired car.

Our last vehicular visit with Nissan was with the Sentra, which led to the conclusion that it is an adequate if uninspired car.

Or, in a word, “bland.”

Which is a word that cannot be used to label the cube (yes, lower case).

In fact, the cube raises the question of whether it might be too cool for school. . .unless the school is one presided over by Professor Charles Xavier. And if you don’t catch that reference, you might as well consider yourself dismissed.

One interesting aspect of the cube is that it is one of the few—perhaps only—vehicles with a name that describes pretty much what it is. I don’t know what a “Sentra” is, but I surely know a cube when I see one, and if it is not perfectly in keeping with the definition stated in that high school geometry class, it is close enough to pass with flying colors.

It is, in effect, a box on wheels. Little wheels. Odd thing about them. Usually, the bigger the wheels the better. Car designers everywhere put wheels on cars the same way that anime artists put eyes and other elements on their characters: remarkably oversized. Yet if the cube had bigger wheels (it has 16s, which may seem sizable enough, until you consider that the overall height is 65 in., which is 6.5 in. taller than the aforementioned Sentra, for example), it would seem ill-proportioned. Arguably, the car could be fitted with wider tires, which would make it seem more like a slot car.

 

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The beauty of the box is that it is an efficient storage mechanism, and in the case of the cube, the things to be temporarily stored are passengers. There is a sense of roominess in the small car, particularly as regards the headroom. Professor Dumbledore could sit in it with a full-on peaked hat and not have a problem. And the fact that the headliner actually is sculpted with a wave-like pattern might contribute to a level of wizard-like appropriateness in the car. While there are plenty of small cars with back seats, this is one of the few cars in that category that are actually roomy enough to put full-grown people back there who aren’t in advanced yoga training. There is a seeming endless array of cup holders of varying dimensions. One is cleverly located to the left of the steering wheel on the instrument panel, positioned such that it can take advantage of the HVAC vent (e.g., on a hot day, what better place for a cold beverage?).

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Another storage-like feature is the optional shag dash topper, which is part of the “Interior Designer Package,” which also includes carpeted floor mats (again, with a clever design, so these just aren’t sheets of carpet), carpeted cargo area mat, and front door bungees. The shag dash topper is a round piece of shag carpeting that is about the diameter of a personal pan pizza. The front door bungees are elastic bands akin to those that are used to put hair in pony tails, but in this case they are attached to the arm rests. While I am not surprised that I don’t know what the functions of either of these things are (I am not anywhere near the demographic for the cube), I would have figured that my 17-year-old niece would have taken me to school on them, but she just muttered something about their looking “sketchy.”

This is unquestionably a city car. Getting onto the highway with the 122-hp engine hooked up to an Xtronic continuously variable transmission seems like a slog through some serious molasses. But if you’re just bopping around town—and in the cube you will probably be bopping—then this is the right car. . .unless, of course, you’re old enough to know what bop music is, which would make you several decades beyond age-appropriateness for the cube.

Selected specs

Engine: 1.8-liter, DOHC four-cylinder

Engine material: aluminum

Horsepower: 122 @ 5,200 rpm

Torque: 127 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm

Transmission: Continuously variable

Wheelbase: 99.6 in

Overall length: 156.7 in

Overall width: 66.7 in

Overall height: 65 in

Passenger volume (cubic feet): 97.7

EPA: 27/31 mpg