Review and photos by Greg Wilson
2010 Nissan Cube
The new-for-2010 Nissan Cube Krom is essentially a regular Cube with, yes, more chrome – plus a few other things. Check out the bold chrome bars in the grille, the body-width chrome bars in the lower bumper, and the eight-spoke 16-inch smoked chrome alloy wheels. The Cube Krom also has unique front and rear bumpers, body side sills, rear roof spoiler and blacked-out rear windows, all of which make the Cube look like a kind of urban-chic street cruiser – similar in concept to the Honda Element SC or the Kia Soul 4U SX.
Whether the transition from cute to brute really works is debatable; the Cube is so tall and square, that it’s hard to take it seriously as a tuner vehicle, especially as there is no power upgrade over the standard 122-hp 1.8-litre 4-cylinder engine, and the only tranny available is a CVT.
Still, if you’re looking for an economy car with character, a roomy interior and great gas mileage, the Cube Krom is a unique piece in the marketplace. In addition to its exterior differences, the Krom has some unique interior features: cloth seats with a distinctive woven black and grey fabric, faux titanium dash trim, metal brake and accelerator pedals, a 4.3-inch colour audio display with integrated rearview camera view when in Reverse gear, USB port, a Rockford Fosgate subwoofer, and an adjustable interior illumination system with 20 different colours,
Like all Cubes for the 2010 model year, the Krom has new standard Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, iPod interface, speed-sensitive volume control, six speakers, and Radio Data System (RDS).
The Cube Krom’s MSRP is $23,098 plus a Freight charge of $1,325 – which is quite a jump over the Cube’s base price of $17,398. Though the Krom’s price is slightly less than its closest competitor, the Kia Soul 4U SX ($23,545), the Soul comes with a standard five-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic ($24,745) and features a 142-hp 2.0-litre engine, four-wheel disc brakes and 18-inch tires and alloy wheels.
2010 Nissan Cube Krom. Click image to enlarge
Though the Soul may be a better value, the Cube’s styling will probably trump all other considerations in this buying decision. The Krom’s primary appeal is its unique look, and whether or not its competitors have a little more horsepower or extra rear disc brakes probably won’t make a difference to the Cube Krom buyer.
The base 2010 Nissan Cube S model starts at $17,398, and that includes a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional CVT, 15-inch tires and steel wheels, air conditioning, cloth seats, driver’s seat height adjuster, 60/40 split-folding second-row seatbacks, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, power windows with driver’s auto up/down, power door locks with keyless entry, cruise control, active front head restraints, and vehicle security system, plus the standard features I mentioned above.
Also standard is a generous list of safety features including six airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic brake distribution, active front head restraints, two rear head restraints, child-proof rear door locks, and child seat anchors and tether connectors.
The SL, starting at $20,898, comes only with the continuously variable transmission, and adds 16-inch tires and alloy wheels, fog lights, automatic temperature control, automatic headlamps, and pushbutton start. An optional Technology Package ($800) for the SL adds a 4.3-inch colour audio display, USB port, rear-view camera, upgraded speakers with Rockford Fosgate subwoofer, and XM satellite radio.
As mentioned, the Krom’s MSRP of $23,098 adds the chrome grilles, body kit, rear spoiler, black and grey cloth seats, Rockford Fosgate subwoofer, rear-view camera, 4.3-inch dash display, USB port, interior accent lighting, metal pedals, and titanium-look interior trim.
2010 Nissan Cube Krom. Click image to enlarge
The Cube is based on the Versa’s front-wheel drive platform with the same 1.8-litre engine and ‘Xtronic’ continuously variable transmission. It drives much like a Versa, except that its taller body feels more top-heavy when cornering, the driving position is more upright, and the visibility is affected by the tall, vertical windows.
The driver sits well back from the upright front windshield; that feels a bit weird but doesn’t hinder visibility. The vertical side windows, as Contributing Editor Chris Chase pointed out, can catch reflections at night, which can be distracting. On the other hand, the side windows are larger than average, enhancing visibility in the daytime. A third side window on the passenger side improves visibility when shoulder-checking, but there is a corner pillar at the right rear despite the external appearance of a single wraparound rear side window. The rear window has a wiper and washer. Overall visibility is very good.