In this its second model year, Nissan’s Kicks is a kick to drive. Like the Nissan Juke it replaced, Kicks is a stylish subcompact crossover that has the looks of one, but unfortunately, doesn’t offer AWD as an option to make it a true crossover/SUV.
Kicks is offered in S, SV and SR trim levels, the latter which was tested. Our royal blue painted test car was topped with a white roof that Nissan refers to as a “floating roof” and comes as a $200 Premium paint scheme. Overall, the look is chic and sporty.
The SR came standard with LED headlights, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, remote start, fog lights, heated front seats and much more.
Kicks caters to college students, working singles and couples who want an inexpensive and economical four-door that has some utility for their active lifestyles. Its front end carries the entire product line design theme and could pass for a downsized Nissan Rogue, one of the car makers top sellers right now.
This 5-passenger has a roomy and airy interior. The grey, heated, leather front seats in the test car had orange contrasting stitching and a flat-bottomed steering wheel for a sporty look. They offered some lateral support and were on the semi-soft side. And on the sides of their headrests, embedded Bose speakers give the impression of surround sound.
A 7-inch touchscreen is standard and comes with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity that is needed for navigation and selected apps. It also offers voice control for phone and audio controls and hands-free text messaging assistant. In addition, it includes a rearview camera with birds’ eye view as well as a front view camera also with the bird view.
Kicks’ gauge set is inset nicely to avoid glare and has a driver’s information gauge in between. The only item missing is a wireless smartphone charger that could have taken up residence in a bin at the bottom of the vertical stack.
Back seat leg room isn’t bad for two average size adults. Headroom is generous and the back seats are nicely padded and can fit three tweens in comfort. Step-in is a mere 16 inches.
Back in the cargo area that has a low 27-inch liftover, and with the rear seats upright, there’s 25.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity that measures 36 inches deep, 39.5 wide and 34 high. Flip the 60/40 seatbacks and cargo capacity expands to 32.3 cubic feet for 65 inches of cargo loading depth. Beneath the cargo floor is a hard foam insert that holds the jack and jack tools. There’s really no space around it to stow small items unless the items are flat and small.
Kicks has but one engine choice and it’s a 1.6-liter, inline 4-cylinder that puts out a meager 122-hp and 114 lb/ft of torque. It’s matched with a CVT transmission that combined with the 1.6L earned EPA mileage estimates of an impressive 31 city, 36-highway mpg. So powered, acceleration builds gradually as it has to move Kick’s 2,639-pound curb weight. It has been independently 0-60 tested at 10.2 seconds.
With its short wheelbase, Kicks is nimble and easy to park as it has a tight turning radius. As said, it’s fun to drive especially on twisty roads where its suspension keeps it on an even keel.
Ride quality on Firestone 17-inch tires is smooth on smooth roads but a bit bumpy on pock-marked roads and when encountering pronounced highway tar strips where it can be somewhat jittery.
With an extremely long list of standard safety items and convenience features, Kicks SR carried a base price of $20,870. After adding the premium paint job, carpeted floor and cargo mats ($215) and SR Premium Package ($1,000) that added the Bose audio with eight speakers, Prima-Tex appointed seats, heated front seats and security system, Kicks bottom-lined at $23,330. An affordable price for a four-seater that provides excellent fuel economy.
As a daily commuter, a second car or primary sedan with some utility, Kicks is a compelling crossover that caters to anyone looking for an affordable, economical, attractive and sporty means of transportation.