Nissan Juke makes North American debut

The all-new Juke is a Kia Soul-sized small crossover that offers expressive styling, impressive power and all-wheel drive confidence. The tiny Nissan Juke crossover is an extrovert on wheels, from its bug-eye headlights and boomerang tail lights to its flared wheel arches and wide-mouth grille. It’s also officially bound for North America, confirmed by a recent appearance at the 2010 New York International Auto Show.

At just 162.8 inches in length, the Juke is much shorter than potential crossover rivals such as the conservatively-styled Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. In size, it’s more comparable to tall wagons like the Kia Soul and Scion xB – but the Juke offers all-wheel drive, unlike its tall wagon competitors. Perhaps its closest rival is the similarly-sized Suzuki SX4 hatchback, which has optional all-wheel drive – although the SX4 can’t match the Juke’s expressive styling. Clearly, the Juke is a standout, and its originality is continued under the hood. Powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, Nissan claims the Juke will produce more than 180 horsepower – far more than any of its rivals’ four-cylinder powertrains.

Front-wheel drive is standard, but an optional all-wheel drive system based on Nissan’s All-Mode 4-wheel drive can transfer power from side to side to improve cornering and decrease understeer. A continuously-variable automatic transmission is standard with all-wheel drive, but optional on front-wheel drive Jukes – though Nissan expects an unusually large percentage of Jukes to be sold with manual transmissions.

Pricing for the Juke hasn’t been officially set, though Nissan has promised a starting price of under $20,000. That puts it squarely on par with all aforementioned rivals – though the individualist Juke distinguishes itself with surprising power, ultra-exuberant styling, and available all-wheel drive.

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