Tag Archives: hatch

2015 Nissan Juke SL AWD

Juke the latest oddball design from Nissan 

Odd nose and those lights atop the hood are great at holding snow and ice.
Odd nose and those lights atop the hood are great at holding snow and ice.

Nissan’s Juke is unusual looking!

You’ll probably substitute your own word for “unusual”, but there will be no argument that it looks like no other car on the road, but then neither did the Nissan Cube, which has been discontinued, or the late Pontiac Aztek.

For lack of a better descriptor, I’d say the Juke has bug eyes, or possibly a frog-faced nose. Some call it youthful, some funky. But it’s no Kia Soul, which exudes cute and trendy.

Plus the unique Juke has been around now for several years, so it’s not a newcomer to the market. It does offer all-wheel-drive, which is a plus in its favor, plus decent gas mileage and in the tested SL AWD model, heated front seats. That was especially nice on several sub-zero days during my drive.

This is the purplish blue of my test car.
This is the purplish blue of my test car.

Its other major plus, other than being a hatchback, is its lithe nature and easy sporty handling. It’s fun to drive with mild steering effort and responsive handling with little lean in turns. In that way, it feels much like a Jeep.

Sadly it feels Jeep-like in ride, which is to say choppy over Wisconsin’s rough roads. The front MacPherson struts and rear multi-link suspension, both with stabilizer bars, shocks and springs, delivered a bumpier small sport-utility truck type ride than many folks may enjoy and I found myself trying to dodge any road imperfection to ease the jostle. Blame much of that on Juke’s short, 99.6-inch wheelbase. Continue reading 2015 Nissan Juke SL AWD

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2014 Ford Fiesta SE

Small cars can be fun to drive if spunky and good handling

Driving small cars isn’t a turnoff to me. I enjoy their economy, their simplicity their easy handling and their low cost.14FiestaST_go-around_15_HR

But frugal needn’t mean blah, and Ford’s Fiesta has learned that lesson. It offers a spunky look and feel, good handling and an overall simplicity that helps you enjoy the pure driving ability of the car. And it does it without all the electronic gee-whiz gadgets that add so much cost to today’s cars, yet it was no fuddy-duddy.

I drove the SE hatchback, the mid-level model of seven trims. There is the base S sedan starting at a bargain basement $14,000, all the way up to a racy ST hatchback with a turbocharged four-banger at $21,400.
The Race Red SE hatch is indicative of what many Fiesta buyers will select and lists at $16,050.

First, the hatch gives you more cargo hauling capability and it looks sportier in profile than the sedan. There’s even a little spoiler in back.

Standard to all but the ST model is a 1.6-liter, Duratec I4 that creates 120 horsepower that is effectively put to use via an easy shifting 5-speed manual gearbox. The Fiesta never seems slow or pokey. While no speed racer it’ll get up to highway speeds easily and feels downright frisky as you pull away from stoplights, having good low-end torque. That’s quite a contrast to the Nissan Versa Note I tested recently. It felt way underpowered, yet these cars are almost identical in price, amenities and weight and the Note was just 11 horsepower shy of the Fiesta. Continue reading 2014 Ford Fiesta SE