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Arrival: 2011 Nissan Juke SL AWD


It's been been awhile since our fleet welcomed such an eye-catcher. People are intrigued by the Juke. I first experienced its draw when I encountered a pedestrian at a stoplight. She stopped, pointed, waved, and mouthed, "I like your car."

Our topline SL arrived with torque-vectoring all-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission. Amenities are substantial at the SL level: Nissan Advanced Airbag System, 60/40 split rear seats, power windows/locks/seats, six-speaker stereo, and navigation with Bluetooth are some of the notable ones. Floormats ($170) and a roof spoiler ($390) were our only options. To accentuate the Juke's physique, we specified a Cayenne Red paint job with a black and red interior color scheme.

 Over the first few weeks of testing, we've grown to appreciate the little Nissan for its size, agility, and peppiness. Its compact dimensions make it a gem in tight locations.

A turbocharged 188-horse, 1.6-liter DIG (Direct Injection Gasoline) engine gets the Juke to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. It's not the quickest crossover around, but it is entertaining once the road swerves. The Juke calmly negotiates mild bends thanks to an athletically tuned suspension and all-wheel-drive setup. Punch it, and its modest thrust will have you wondering why the boosted mill isn't in a small sports car. Ahem, Nissan...

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