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2010 Nissan Cube review:

2010 Nissan Cube

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First of all, the Krom edition comes standard with a 4.3-inch color radio display, also an option in the SL. We expect to see more cars come with this type of display in the next few years in lieu of monochrome, single-line radio displays. Although not unheard of as an option in this price range, navigation is not available in any version of the Cube.

Instead, the 4.3-inch LCD serves as a good display for the Krom edition's standard iPod and Bluetooth phone integration, also available in the SL trim. We paired an iPhone to the car using the voice command system. Although the LCD showed feedback for the phone system, we couldn't use any of the physical controls to place calls; it is voice command only.

We quickly found that the voice command system extended to placing calls by saying the name of anyone in our phone's contact list. So far, we've seen this functionality only in cars from Ford and Kia, so Nissan is close to the front of the pack. One note, with the iPhone we had to pronounce contacts last name first because of the way the system reads the contact database.

Steering wheel buttons control the stereo and phone system.

We always like to see iPod integration, especially in cars aimed at a younger demographic. The Cube Krom edition has a USB port low on the dashboard, good for either a USB thumb drive or an iPod cable. Nissan designed a well into the dashboard that can be optionally fitted with a circle of shag carpet, ostensibly for holding phones and iPods in place. We found the triple cup holder at the base of the dashboard a much more convenient and secure place for our iPod.

The LCD works well for showing the iPod library, with the usual options for browsing music by album, artist, and genre. But we particularly liked the top-level menu option for shuffling all tracks. It's much safer to just hit that item than it is to dig through the menus for a particular artist, especially as the selection knob required a pretty long reach from the driver's seat.

Of course, the single-CD slot also works for playing MP3 CDs, and satellite radio is an option.

We were also delighted that the Krom edition of the Cube included a Rockford Fosgate audio system, with a subwoofer set into the rear gate enhancing the sound from the six cabin speakers. When we tested the Rockford Fosgate audio system in the Mitsubishi Evo, we found the sound bass-heavy and unrefined. But in the Cube, Rockford Fosgate toned down the thumpiness, balancing out the sound for a wider range of music. We liked the clear definition the system leant to guitar riffs. The system wasn't particularly good at low volumes, but shone more as we pumped up the output.

The rear-view camera is an unexpected feature in the Cube.

The Cube Krom edition comes with other tech car goodies, including a smart key and interior accent lighting that can be set to 20 different colors. More useful is the rear-view camera, which shows in the dashboard LCD.

In sum
Although we rushed to tell people in parking lots that we didn't actually own this 2010 Nissan Cube Krom edition, some will appreciate its unique look. The interior offers plenty of practicality--all points in favor of its design. The cabin tech interface also looks good and works well, but we knocked it for requiring such a reach to the stereo controls.

The Cube's driving performance is fine, but leans toward the practical side. You won't be rushing to get behind the wheel of the Cube for the driving experience. That said, we can always get behind good fuel economy, and the CVT is well built.

The lack of a navigation option hurts the Cube's cabin tech a little, as the 4.3-inch LCD would be adequate for turn-by-turn directions. We do like the advanced Bluetooth phone system. The iPod integration and audio system also work in the Cube's favor, as do the other tech niceties, like the smart key and accent lights.

Spec box
Model 2010 Nissan Cube
Trim Krom
Power train 1.8-liter four cylinder
EPA fuel economy 27 mpg city/31 mpg highway
Observed fuel economy 28.9 mpg
Navigation Not available
Bluetooth phone support Standard
Disc player MP3-compatible single CD
MP3 player support iPod integration
Other digital audio USB thumb drive, satellite radio
Audio system Rockford-Fosgate seven speaker
Driver aids Rearview camera
Base price $20,120
Price as tested $21,070

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