Vehicle type: crossover
History/description: Nissan initially brought their compact Juke crossover to the Canadian market in 2010, as a 2011 model.
Sized similarly to a Toyota Matrix or Dodge Caliber, it took a place under the popular Rogue in Nissan’s utility vehicle lineup, with a focus on unique styling and fun-to-drive dynamics.
Feature content included Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, a drive-mode selector, automatic climate control, push-button start, heated leather, a back-up camera system, a Rockford Fosgate audio system, and more.
Updates through the Juke’s life cycle added new colours and personalization options, revised looks, special edition NISMO models with added performance and style, and more advanced connectivity features, including the NissanConnect system, which was available from 2015 and on.
All models ran a turbocharged and direct injected 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, generating 180 horsepower in standard models. Nismo-equipped Juke models offer up more power, with the Juke Nismo RS bumping output to 215.
Transmission and driveline options included Nissan’s XTronic continually variable transmission (CVT), or a six-speed manual. Front-drive was standard, and a unique, sports-tuned AWD system with torque vectoring could be had, but only with the CVT transmission.
What owners like: Owners say they love the fun-to-drive torque and handling of this compact and feisty little ute, which is just as entertaining to drive as it is weird looking.
Other owner-stated pluses include a fast-acting manual shift mode on the CVT transmission, and good overall bang-for-the-buck in terms of feature content.
Many shoppers gravitated toward the Juke for its higher-than-average level of customization options, too.
What owners dislike: Complaints include the sometimes hard-to-digest looks, fuel economy during spirited driving, and limited space for rear-seat occupants. Some drivers wish for a softer ride, too.
The test drive: Some 2011 to 2013 units may have had a bad timing chain installed at the factory, and dealers were repairing and replacing affected units, and associated timing chain guides and sprockets.
In some situations, the affected engines could trip a check-engine light as the chain deteriorated. If left unattended, the chain could fail, causing considerable engine damage.
Talk to a Nissan service advisor to see if the unit you’re considering may have been affected by this problem, or the subsequent recall, if you’re considering an early unit from this generation.
Note that not all units were affected, and that the owner’s community indicates that Nissan did a great job of contacting all affected owners and repairing all affected units.
Potential issues with dirty fuel injectors on some models can cause one or more cylinders to run lean, and burn a valve or two. It’s unclear how common this issue is throughout the owner’s community, but note that running a top-tier fuel at all times, running only factory-specified engine oil, and staying on top of spark-plug change intervals can help maintain fuel system cleanliness.
Some owners choose to remove and professionally clean the fuel injectors as part of preventative maintenance, though this may be overkill. Juke is a good candidate for a regular bottle of fuel injector cleaner and a few good full-throttle romps every week, however.
Check the Juke’s headlights for signs of condensation or excessive fading or yellowing, noting that a small amount of internal condensation is typically acceptable and will burn off once the lights are activated, but that excessive condensation could indicate a badly sealed headlamp housing, and cause issues.
As it goes with other Nissan models running the CVT transmission, be sure all fluid changes specified in the owner’s manual have been adhered to, and performed only at the dealer.
Problems can arise if the CVT is improperly drained, improperly filled, or refilled with the improper fluid. Note that a fresh fluid change can solve certain issues with the transmission, especially if the fluid is overdue for a change.
Do not take CVT fluid change intervals lightly — at least one owner reported a denied transmission warranty claim on a unit that had missed several transmission fluid changes.
This is a great reason to inspect all service records available against the vehicle’s factory maintenance schedule.
Next, note that unwanted clunking or popping sensations felt while accelerating, braking or steering, could be the result of a bad motor mount, or a bad axle.
This is especially true if the offending sound is accompanied by a banging or tapping sensation felt through the Juke’s floor.
Though reports are patchy, these are issues worth being aware of, and each can be easily checked by a technician on a pre-purchase inspection.
The verdict: Juke’s most serious reliability problem was the timing chain issue and it looks like Nissan tackled it properly. Other issues are all fairly minor and easily addressed, but shop carefully for a model that has all service records, and especially service records that confirm the CVT transmission was serviced on time, by a dealer, every time.
If the unit you’re considering gets a thumbs-up from a mechanic ahead of your purchase, proceed with confidence.
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