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We took our Cube for a shakedown cruise yesterday (Aug 12th) and I thought I'd share the experience.

We drove up to Harris Hill in Elmira, NY - a place famous for its views of the vally below and for sail planes. The little airport on top of the hill has been a hot bed of glider activity since well before WWII. In fact my dad used to drive up here with his buddies from NYC in an old Model A back before the war. And now I'm here in my Cube.

If you are ever in this area and want a thrill, stop in and take a glider ride. You won't regret it!



Some of this rambling is for people who may not have their cars yet or maybe haven't tried all of these features yet.

Before heading out I spent some time in the car in the driveway configuring the XM and Bluetooth features. I've been a Sirius subscriber for many years and this is my first experience with XM. The first big difference between Sirius and XM is the display. Sirius gives you three lines and they scroll as needed to display longer messages. On this radio at least XM has a single line display, there aren't as many characters and it doesn't scroll. If you want the see all of the track info you need to push a button on the radio to jump from one line to the next, and there is a lot of abbreviation.

Sound quality seems to be similar, though this implementation doesn't use the FM modulator so it will sound better for that reason. High frequencies on Sirius, like cymbals or sibilant sss sounds when talking, tend to be an unpleasant raspy hiss at times. I didn't notice this with the Cube's XM setup. When driving XM has a lot more signal dropouts than Sirius has. Any time you have a high hill to the south of you the signal is lost. For instance a stretch of I-88 I often drive has the the Chenango to the north and a high hill right agains the road to the north. This one or two mile stretch of highway is totally dead to XM, though Sirius works fine there. On our trip I was surprised at how often we lost the signal in places where I would have expected Sirius to work.

The next interesting technology is the Bluetooth integration. I had expected to be disappointed after not seeing my Motorola W376g Tracfone listed on the Nissan website as being compatible and after reading about people not getting it to work with numerous cars on various forums. The problem would be in pairing the phone to the car.

Apparently Tracfone has fixed this. I followed the instructions in the Nissan and Tracfone manuals and to my surprise they paired up perfectly. Once that was done I entered a few people into the car's phone book and tested it on my own number. Basically, you leave the phone alone. Just press a button on the steering wheel, the radio mutes, a voice prompts you for a command, I say "call name home". The car confirms that it correctly recognized your request, you say "yes" and it dials through your phone. You hear the call through the car speakers and there is a microphone in the ceiling to the left of the driver. It works perfectly. Incoming calls are even simpler. The phone itself rings in the usual manner, but the radio mutes and you also hear a ring tone in the car speakers. Press the button on the steering wheel and start talking. Press another button to hang up when you are done and the radio unmutes. I may go to the car to make all of my calls from now on!

The average and instantaneous MPG reading are fun to watch. The instantaneous display runs from 0 MPG while stopped with the engine running, up to 60 MPG while coasting down hill. It typically stays over 30 except when climbing hills. It may drop to less than 10 MPG briefly when really working out. So far the average reading is 33.3 MPG. Not too bad.

The new car is much quieter than the Focus. There is more wind noise with that vertical windshield, but much much less road noise.

The cruise control working with that CVT transmission makes this car hold a set speed much better then any car I have had in the past. Set it to 45 MPH on a back road and it will stay there up and down hills and on the flats.

I still want to shift from time to time and I stepped on the "clutch" hitting the breaks instead a few times. Seat belts do have a purpose!

 

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I am also a tracfone customer (that means I'm not a cell phone "power user" :D). The 176 is the only bluetooth model from them that is available for my area code. Since it wasn't listed with Nissan and I needed to replace two phones, I was very hesitant to purchase. Thanks to your post I bit the bullet and got them. Now both me and the wife can utilize the bluetooth capability of the Cube's RF sound system. :)

Following both the instructions for the phone and Cube, the pairing and imputing of names and phone numbers was easy. The voice recognition works well so I didn't have to go into the learn voice/accent teaching mode. Initial tests to home rated the sound quality better than other folks we know who use their car systems to call us on a regular basis. Theirs tend to sound very tinny or way-down-the-hall kind of quality.

A couple of interesting things I've found while using it so far: you can use "redial" as a voice command/prompt. I must have missed that in the manual as I don't recall seeing. Next: using the steering wheel audio controls, I have found raising it to MAX works best for both in/out cell levels. The really, really cool thing about this is after "hanging up", the radio returns to its previous dB level before the call. If it stayed at MAX, you'd chance damaging the sound system, your ears, or startling the driver into a possible accident. Nice touch Nissan.
 

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Love the first pic... shot with that plane pulling glider is awesome. Although I don't know if I can ride one of those. Already hate heights and and though of that glider being powered with just the wind kind a scary... But for sure I think it would be fun. And maybe would like to overcome that fear some day hahaha
 

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Pube said:
Love the first pic... shot with that plane pulling glider is awesome. Although I don't know if I can ride one of those. Already hate heights and and though of that glider being powered with just the wind kind a scary... But for sure I think it would be fun. And maybe would like to overcome that fear some day hahaha
I took the ride a couple of years ago. Fantastic experience - but I did get a bit of motion sickness. The air field is on top of a mountain and my Cube is sitting at an overlook with an amazing view of the valley below. The plane is towing that glider off the edge of the cliff. The effect from inside the glider is quite stunning! Beyond the slow upward climb, the ground falls away below you as you pass over the overlook.

I didn't realize that those two photos were missing from my web space. I must have purged them in a cleaning frenzy at some point. I just put them back today.
 
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