>> Friday, March 6, 2009
A smash hit in Japan, the Cube finally wends its way to America. But is it still hip to be square?
BY JOHN PHILLIPS
And then, in 1998, Nissan likewise dabbled in cubism with the Cube, curiously keeping it hidden within its own borders—this despite fantastic sales—for fear that Americans might paint the vehicle UPS brown and turn it into a joke for NASCAR fans, who would exhort Dale Jarrett to "Race the Cube, Dale, race the Cube!"
Three generations into the Cube's existence, it has finally reached our shores, having been beaten to the boxy punch by Honda's Element, Scion's xB, and Kia's Soul. It rides atop a shortened Versa platform—a Versa cubed?—and all four model iterations are front-drive only and fitted with a 122-hp, 1.8-liter four. Alas, we won't get "e-4WD." Too pricey, says Nissan.
Speaking of price, it ain't much, starting at $14,685, which includes stability control and A/C (an iced Cube?). The cost rises as it works its way through the "Ginormous Package"—really—then peaks at $20,815 for a loaded Cube Kr ¯o m. Which makes the Kr ¯o m, we guess, Cube steak. The top two models eschew the six-speed manual for a CVT identical to the Versa's.
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