21 May 2019

Four Years Of Juke

I purchased my car, a Nissan Juke, four years ago today. In that time, I've driven an average of 19.40 miles per day. It is probably the favorite car I've had of all of the cars that I've owned or driven, and I like it for the same reasons I bought it.

* It uses literally half as much gas per mile as the Hyundai Sante Fe I was driving before I bought it. In practice, I get 26 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on  the highway, and a couple miles per gallon more in "economy" mode. I like the CVT transmission, which also helps with fuel economy while being functionally an automatic transmission. When I bought it, I reconciled sticker price and lifetime gasoline costs, by assuming that I'd have it for ten years and that gas would have an average price of $4 per gallon over that time period. So far, that estimate looks low, but with six years left, who knows? To some extent, the overly conservative assumption about gas prices in the future was a hedge against an unlikely, but possible, future anyway, rather than a purely realistic prediction. Even with those generous assumptions, however, none of the hybrids on the market except the Prius C were competitive with it in terms of combined fuel cost and sticker price in the market segment that I was looking at. 

* The only electric vehicle options at the time were the Nissan Leaf, which had an advertised range of 80 miles from a full charge, and the first couple of models of Tesla, which were $100,000+ and out of my price range even with the tax credits. A Leaf would have been comparable in price after tax credits, but the range just didn't cut it. While its range would have been fine for driving to work and the grocery store an so on, I make enough trips a year from Denver to places like Pueblo, Fort Collins and Cheyenne, Frisco and Vail, Akron and Sterling, Loveland, Estes Park, and Nederland that I would have needed an alternative car on a regular basis, and the only places I've gone on a regular basis that have chargers available are close enough to home that I wouldn't have actually needed them (e.g. there are several near Civic Center in Denver, less than five miles from my home). Apart from the price, I could have made a Tesla work, although it would have taken considerably more thought. I could have chosen the "usually electric" Chevy Volt (which under the hood is an impressive engineering accomplishment and would have met my needs in terms of range), but it was ugly, it was too big, it wasn't easy to switch from cargo mode to passenger mode, it didn't have all wheel drive, and the tax incentives weren't as good.

* It was the smallest all wheel drive vehicle you could buy at the time. And, while I value having an all wheel drive vehicle (I woke up to lots of snow today in Denver, Colorado on May 21, 2019). The all wheel drive feature sets it apart from alternatives that I considered like the Prius C, the Mazda 2 (I also couldn't find any dealer that had them on the lot), the Hyundai Veloster, the Smart Car, the Fiat 500, the Mini Cooper, and the VW New Beetle (the fact that most of the models for sale were diesel and that its fuel economy ratings were fraudulent just after the fact schadenfreude).

* I also appreciate having a small vehicle which makes it easy to park in the city. Just today alone I've parked in two places where I wouldn't have been able to with a full sized sedan, let alone a hulking SUV. Three hundred and sixty degree "backing" cameras have also been great. I can even (barely) fit it in my garage which was designed in the Model T days for much smaller vehicles.

* It is still roomy enough to comfortably seat me at 6' 1" and obese in the front seats. Some Toyota Scion models and the Mazda Miata weren't.

* It can seat four with very little cargo space, three with more cargo space, and two with almost as much cargo space as a small SUV. I've used it in all three configurations. With the back seats down to use as cargo space and "sport" mode engaged, it's almost like a little Jeep or a sports car with more cargo space. If I had planned on doing a lot of driving with two late teenaged passengers or adult clients, I would have gotten something larger. But, I knew that with one kid getting her driver's license and a car of her own (which is why I got a new car) and due to move out in two years, and another kid two years behind her, that I would be using it very much that way, and usually for small trips. The backup plan of having the Hyundai Sante Fe (a medium sized all wheel drive SUV) on hand for the rare times when we'd need it for two years (it became my daughter's car which she often uses to carry many friends or go camping in dirt road land) also made the smaller capacity more manageable psychologically.

* It is peppy (especially in "sport" mode) and has a tight turning circle. A sports car would be faster (although far less fuel efficient and with less cargo/passenger space), but honestly, I can push the limits of what is legal and feasible in urban and highway driving as it is, simply by being willing to hit the accelerator when I want acceleration and speed. With the moon roof open and the windows down, it's almost a convertible, without the maintenance and temperature control issues of a soft top.

* It's distinctive looking which makes it easy to pick out of the mass of vehicles in a parking lot or driving up to pick someone up. I also just like how it looks. My kids both think Subarus look good but I just don't get that.

* I enjoy satellite TV and the best available off-the-shelf sound system, the Bluetooth phone and music connections to smart phones, the keyless entry and start, and the heated seats. I even use the GPS sometimes, although I call it Loki because it is a trickster that often deceives me. Hands free phone use (not just to answer but for voice activated calling) is pretty neat.

This said, nothing is perfect, and the Juke is no exception:

* It has a rear window wiper, but would really use a rear window wash.

* The sight lines to the rear are poor (but better than the Veloster), and a blind spot warning light which is popular on many new cars now would have been nice.

* It is hard to see the speed and other indicators through the steering wheel, and the gas tank release is in an awkward place where it is easy to accidentally open the hood instead.

* The Bluetooth connection can be a bit fussy at times.

* The GPS database is far too expensive to update when Google Maps via Bluetooth does the same thing for free.

* It has had some minor maintenance issues (e.g. the volume control dial doesn't work reliably).

* I would have preferred a car that was a couple of inches narrower (the Fiat 500 is the narrowest on the market).

Still, on the whole, it has been a great car and with the Juke now replaced by the Nissan Kona in its lineup (a far inferior vehicle in every way), there's really nothing else in the market that I'd be inclined to replace it with today.

Six to ten years from now, when I get my next car, I strongly suspect that it will be an electric one. I suspect that this will be the last fossil fuel powered car that I ever own.