In the automotive industry, different is good except when it’s not. While this might seem glib, it’s not always possible to tell how buyers are going to react to a vehicle that intends to offer something unique. The 2013 Nissan Cube has managed to find itself on the right side of unusual ever since it was introduced as a 2009 model, a vehicle that shakes up the entry-level crossover / hatchback scene with its distinctly Japanese styling. Concealed beneath the Cube’s non-conformist sheet metal lurks a compelling and useful automobile that continues to draw a crowd five years after its debut.
Let’s take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2013 Nissan Cube.
The 2013 Nissan Cube is aptly named, as its looks strongly resemble those of a 90-degree box with wheels. Moving past the Nissan Cube’s squared-off proportions, the fact that the vehicle’s designers have eschewed symmetry in order to create a non-traditional design for the subcompact car also sets the Cube apart from any other model on the market. The evidence is most prominent at the rear of the Nissan, where wrap-around glass obscures the pillar on the passenger’s side and creates the illusion that the automobile’s roof is supported by a single pillar.
It’s often said that there are few shapes that offer the same interior volume as a box, a truism that is proven by the 2013 Nissan Cube. The Cube’s passenger compartment offers two rows of seating and can accommodate up to five riders, and it also features a high roofline that significantly improves headroom regardless of which position is occupied. Behind the rear seatback the Cube offers just over 11 cubic feet of storage space, but fold that row forward and a total of 58 cubic feet of cargo room are revealed, significantly enhancing the Nissan’s practicality.
All versions of the 2013 Nissan Cube are equipped with a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine. This motor produces 122 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of twist, which is strong enough to accelerate the Cube to 60-mph in just a few ticks less than 10 seconds. A six-speed manual transmission is included free of charge with the Nissan Cube, while a continuously-variable automatic unit is also offered as an option (or even standard on certain models of the vehicle). Despite its relatively lazy 0-60 time, the Cube’s performance is in line with many of its subcompact contemporaries.
The 2013 Nissan Cube is relatively light, checking in at 2,800 lbs, and it also enjoys access to CVT technology, which is known to be a powerful tool in the hunt for increased miles per gallon. That being said, the Nissan Cube has a hard time raising eyebrows with its EPA-rated fuel economy. 27-mpg in stop and go driving and 31-mpg during highway cruising are far from terrible numbers, but they were much more impressive five years ago when the Cube first bowed on North American shores and details like direct-injection engines and turbochargers hadn’t yet become common place. It’s possible to get a hatchback that will deliver better efficiency than the Nissan Cube, but it’s hard to find something as square or individual-looking that is in the same class.
The 2013 Nissan Cube starts out in S trim, which delivers tinted windows, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, 15-inch steelies, a CD player, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, air conditioning, keyless entry, and not much else. The Nissan Cube SL is better equipped, introducing features such as automatic climate control, a push button starter, automatic headlights, and larger 16-inch alloy rims. Neither version of the Cube can be said to be luxurious, but that’s in keeping with the Cube intention to serve those looking for an inexpensive subcompact automobile that doesn’t compromise utility for comfort.
The 2013 Nissan Cube only offers a single options package, but it does provide owners with access to a wide variety of accessories that can be used to customize the hatchback in a number of ways. The Preferred Option package introduces a navigation system, fog lights, a louder stereo system, a rearview camera, and satellite radio. More tuner-oriented gear is available via the accessories list, including an Aerodynamic Kit that adds a spoiler on the roof and under both the front and rear bumpers (as well as side sills), Interior Accent Lighting that includes 20 colors of LED lighting inside the vehicle, and a louder Sports Horn.
The 2013 Nissan Cube’s starting MSRP is listed at $16,760. This doesn't make it the cheapest vehicle in the Nissan lineup, but it does give the Cube a leg up on other, equally practical models like the pricier Nissan Rogue and the sporty, but still more expensive Nissan Juke. Even in SL trim, the Nissan Cube's MSRP of $18,860 still checks in below the base Juke. The entry-level Cube also compares well against other options like the Scion xB (MSRP $17,725), although it's roughly $2,500 more expensive than the Kia Soul.
The 2013 Nissan Cube comes standard with dual forward airbags, seat-mounted side impact airbags up front, and side curtain airbags that deploy along the entire length of the passenger compartment in the event of a serious accident. The vehicle also offers anti-lock brakes, electronic traction control, and stability control. Although the Nissan Cube boasts excellent crash test scores, you might notice a lack of active safety features such as a blind spot warning system – features that can be found on a number of other cars at its price point.
Ostensibly, the 2013 Nissan Cube goes up against subcompact and compact hatchbacks like the Toyota Matrix, the Ford Focus, and the Volkswagen Golf while attempting to lure in potential customers. Spiritually, however, of the original crop of box-like crossovers only the Cube and the Kia Soul remain recognizable, with other models like the Scion xB having traded in their sharp angles for more rounded, anonymous designs. This has helped the Cube stay relevant during its five year run, as diehard fans have had few alternatives to seek out when it’s time to trade-up.
As you might have gathered from reading this list, the 2013 Nissan Cube has been around for quite a number of years now without a major refresh. Keen eyes will also have spotted the fact that the Nissan Cube is due for a revitalization both under the hood and in the safety department in order to keep it both relevant and competitive. There hasn’t been any word from Nissan as to when this prospective next-generation version of the car will be made available, leading to speculation that we might be seeing the last of the Cube in the United States once this model has run its course.