Seats & Storage

Crank the standard height-adjustable driver's seat up, and the Juke offers a view of the road that's more akin to a crossover than a small car. The smallish cabin minimizes the distance between you and the windows, and the side mirrors are blessedly large. As bizarre as they look from the outside, the parking lights atop the hood clearly mark where the Juke's corners are; thick C-pillars, conversely, make over-the-shoulder visibility a problem.

It goes downhill from there. The front seats offer little lateral support, and their lower cushions aren't particularly long, so taller adults' thighs will hang out ahead of them. The Juke lacks a center armrest and telescoping steering wheel — two important features widely available in other $20,000 cars. With the seat at a comfortable height for my 5-foot-11 frame, headroom in our moonroof-equipped model was tight. (Lose the moonroof, and you get another much-needed inch of space.) What's more, the driver's seat has limited rearward travel. I moved it all the way back and could have used another inch or so.

Of course, that would make things even tighter for those in back. As it stands, the front seats have a sort of Death Star-garbage-compactor relationship with the rear. Legroom is tight back there — my knees dug into the front seatbacks — and headroom is only adequate. Nissan's compact Sentra sedan has more than 2 inches more legroom in the backseat, and the Versa hatch has nearly 6 inches more. I sat in both cars back-to-back with the Juke at last year's New York auto show, and there's a world of difference. As backseats go, the Juke's is a joke.

So is the cargo area. The crossover's descending roofline and forward-arching hatch remove any chance of having serious cargo space, and the remaining area measures just 10.5 cubic feet. Other tiny crossovers, like the Mini Cooper Countryman and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, beat the figure: The Countryman has 12.2 cubic feet, and the Outlander Sport has more than 20 cubic feet. Hatchbacks like the Fit and Versa are similarly voluminous. Even with the the Juke's 60/40-split rear seat folded down, its maximum cargo volume of 35.9 cubic feet trails the competition — in some cases by more than 10 cubic feet.

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