Car Life Nation

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A red 2011 Nissan Juke is shown driving on a highway at night after leaving a Nissan dealer.

Gone but Not Forgotten: 3 Discontinued Nissan Models We Want Back

In life, relationships, and car manufacturing, sometimes things just don’t work out. The best-laid plans of mice and men get uprooted by pandemics, chip shortages, and the ever-changing cost of fuel, for example. Such is the case when it comes to three noteworthy vehicles that have disappeared permanently from your local Nissan dealer’s new inventory––though they still make an appearance on used car lots.

It’s true that the appetite of drivers in Canada changes significantly from year to year, and it stands to reason that automobile manufacturers of Nissan’s calibre wouldn’t waste resources building a model that won’t sell. However, drivers seemed to enjoy the Pathfinder hybrid, Cube, and Juke very much. Sure, it would probably take more than a little tinkering to get these vehicles up to current standards, and we certainly don’t want to tell Nissan how to do its job, but all things considered, these vehicles might deserve another chance.

It is time to take a stroll down memory lane and remember the Nissan Pathfinder hybrid, Cube, Juke, and everything that could have been…but wasn’t. Maybe––with a little perseverance––you’ll be able to locate one of these models just waiting at a Nissan dealer’s used lot for a little retro affection from a driver like you. Even if you aren’t searching for a used car, you can still appreciate what these three unique models lent to Canadian roadways.

#1 – Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid: 2014 to 2015

At first glance, there’s nothing wrong with the idea of a hybrid Pathfinder. More and more automakers are hybridizing SUVs each year. Nissan has even released a variety of hybrid versions of its best-selling vehicles, including the Pathfinder. In fact, with the new electric Ariya slated for the 2023 model year and the Nissan Leaf still chugging along on its plug-in battery pack, it’s kind of a no-brainer for a manufacturer of Nissan’s reputation to have a whole lineup of vehicles that offer hybrid efficiency.

What happened? The Pathfinder is still very much alive and well, beloved by drivers who appreciate a three-row vehicle with ample cargo space, passenger room, and towing capacity. It’s well-equipped with standard safety and driver assistance features, state-of-the-art technology, and well-respected driving manners. Yet no hybrid version is sold today.

In fact, the hybrid version remained in production for less than two years, being discontinued mid-way through 2015. Many experts blamed the lacklustre performance and fuel efficiency figures provided by the hybrid Pathfinder. While 250 hp and 9.1 L/100 km are pretty good numbers for a three-row SUV, they aren’t significantly different from the figures provided by the traditional V6 engine in the standard Pathfinder.

Still, the concept was good, and given current trends towards electrification and hybridization, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to see a re-engineered Pathfinder hybrid on the market in the coming years.

#2 – Nissan Cube: 2009 to 2013

The Cube’s asymmetrical, square-yet-round styling throws off a lot of people. Drawing comparisons to old-fashioned toasters and children’s artistic interpretations of school buses, the Cube’s unique facade is certainly divisive. But here’s the thing––the Cube is actually a fantastic vehicle.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact segment the Cube belongs in since it has the driving manners of a station wagon and the interior of a compact SUV, but experts and real-life drivers alike very much enjoy what the Cube has to offer. The standard 1.8L four-cylinder engine has more than enough power to keep up with aggressive city drivers, while the 8.2 L/100 km combined fuel economy puts a smile on many drivers’ faces as they confidently speed to their destination without worrying about fuel consumption.

The Cube is designed for people, too. Long before it became a standard feature on other SUVs, the Cube offered sliding and reclining rear seats to provide greater comfort for passengers or additional room in the cargo space. The tailgate opens to the side instead of upwards, which is also making an appearance in today’s trucks and SUVs. Another great bonus? A manual transmission option for drivers who enjoy having a little extra control.

While creating a vehicle as otherworldly as the Cube was probably a one-time deal for Nissan, it would be nice if compact yet spacious quasi-SUVs with amazing fuel economy were more common in the automotive world.

#3 – Nissan Juke: 2011 to 2017

The disappearance of the Juke from Canadian roadways is something of a mystery. One day it was a ubiquitous feature on nearly every highway and street, and then Nissan announced it would no longer be sold in Canada.

Like the Cube, the Juke has a somewhat experimental design, with aesthetic cues taken from motorcycles and race cars. But it also defined the subcompact SUV segment, with impressive fuel economy, track-like responsiveness, and a hatchback cargo area that expanded from 297L with the rear seats up to 1,409L with the rear seats stashed.

There isn’t a lot the Juke can’t do. Available in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, different trims include leather seating, premium audio systems, and configurable infotainment and instrument panels. Nissan even produced two NISMO performance versions of the Juke, giving it a manual transmission, up to 215 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque, race car-inspired seating, and track-tuned suspension. While it was never sold to the public, there was even a version with the 545 hp engine out of the Nissan GT-R!

To be fair, the Juke is still in production in overseas markets and is even offered in hybrid versions to great critical acclaim. However, it seems that Nissan’s Canada division put all of its eggs in one basket, then placed that basket in the cargo area of the Nissan Kicks. While the Kicks is an undeniably fantastic little vehicle, it lacks the charm and carefree attitude of the Juke.

Something Fun Around the Bend?

It is entirely possible that Nissan is working on something that will absolutely blow our minds once it reaches Canadian soil. In fact, the brand currently offers a pretty solid lineup of vehicles, from the electric Leaf to the massive Armada. It’s not that we’re really lacking variety in Nissan’s current lineup.

However, when we look at discontinued models like the Pathfinder Hybrid, Cube, and Juke, it reminds us of a time when Nissan vehicles were truly something special. Created with a uniqueness that allowed drivers to really express their personal style, these vehicles had a certain lack of conventionality that endeared them to their drivers and experts alike. Sure, there are drivers who don’t appreciate the aesthetic of the Cube or Juke, but they certainly recognize these models when they come zipping down the street.

Given the current automotive trend of reviving beloved SUV models, it’s certainly not impossible that we’ll see one of these unique Nissan vehicles return to Canadian roads at some point in the near future. But for now, many drivers are feeling the absence of the Pathfinder hybrid, Cube, and Juke. Will the Kicks and Ariya fill the void left by these vehicles? Only time will tell whether we can look forward to a new generation of these fun, unique, and enjoyable vehicles or whether Nissan will cook up something new and exciting to help us capture the freedom and spirit of driving.

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