Nissan brings its Cube to the U.S. after previous years of success in Japan. The car combines funky looks with practical interior space, good fuel economy, and a budget price.

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The Cube's overstyled exterior will make it an icon on the roads. During our time with the car, it drew looks of interest from passersby. Beyond the shape of the car, even the oval turn signals of the front lighting show style.

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Besides being an attention getter, the Cube is practical, with a small, 1.8-liter engine tuned for torque giving it plenty of initial oomph. Fuel economy should come in around 30 mpg.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Corinne Schulze/CNET
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The Cube joins the Scion xB and Honda Element among current box-like vehicles, and this year it will also contend with the Kia Soul.

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The Cube features an asymmetrical design, with a rear window that wraps around the right side, but ends in a pillar on the left.

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We found visibility while driving to be very good with the Cube, although at the SL level you can opt for a rear-sonar system to assist while backing up.

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The side-hinged rear hatch encompasses most of the rear of the Cube, making it easy to put large objects into the car. For the U.S. version of the Cube, Nissan hinged the hatch on the left. In Japan, it is hinged on the right, to reflect the right-hand drive configuration.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Corinne Schulze/CNET
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The rear seat slides back and forth, allowing you to swap between passenger and cargo room. Or you can fold down the rear seats and get much more cargo in.

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At the S trim and below, there isn't any cabin tech available in the Cube. But it does have Nissan's generally good fit and finish.

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The steering wheel has some unique-looking cruise control buttons on the right spoke. With the higher trim level, you can get audio controls on the wheel, as well.

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The instrument panel is visually interesting, as is everything else on the Cube. And we appreciate that Nissan includes a full trip computer in the display between tachometer and speedometer.

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At the S trim, you can have either a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) or a six-speed manual. We found the CVT to be smooth and capable, typical for Nissan.

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The best thing we can say about this stereo is that it can be easily swapped out for one with some features. The stock unit doesn't even play MP3 CDs.

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As another design element, the ceiling has this intriguing ripple pattern.

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As a convenience, cup holders are molded into the dashboard to the driver's left.

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