EXTERIOR

The Juke's front styling is supposed to evoke thoughts of a crocodile sitting just below the surface of the water, with its eyes peeking out, according to Nissan. My neighbor's kindergarten-age son decided he liked the Juke because of its chubby cheeks, as he called them. Whatever you call them, the Juke has flared fenders that make it look hippy, especially in the rear.

During my test drive, I received so many comments on the Juke (solicited and otherwise). Some people loved it from the side, but not the front, while some loved the front but thought the back was weird-looking. Design-wise, I think the whole car really works.

It must be said that the Juke will struggle to be functional for families with small kids who want to be independent. The main reason is the rear door handles are positioned way up on the doorjamb by the C-pillars. Until your kids are taller, they will not be able to reach them. This is no big deal if you don't mind opening the door for your kids all the time, but there it is. Actually, there it isn't, according to some people. The rear doors blended so seamlessly with the crossover that most people thought it was a two-door car at first glance.

Despite the high door handles, it was easy to open and close the doors because they aren't too heavy or wide. The step-in height is kid-friendly, too. When it's open, the liftgate is really tall; I'm 5-foot-5 and didn't have any problems reaching the liftgate to close it, though.

The Juke has a 188-horsepower, turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four-cylinder engine. On the SV and SL trims with front-wheel drive, a manual transmission is standard. A CVT is standard on the base-level S trim and optional on the SV and SL trims. Front-wheel drive is standard on the Juke, and all-wheel drive is optional. The all-wheel-drive Juke gets an EPA-estimated 25/30 mpg city/highway. The front-wheel-drive Juke with a CVT gets 27/32 mpg; with a manual transmission, it gets 24/31 mpg. The Juke uses premium fuel.

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