The Kicks was introduced in 2018 as a five-passenger subcompact crossover that served as a replacement for the funky Nissan Juke. It received a refresh for the 2021 model year that most notably featured a larger grille and available LED headlights along with minor updates to the rear bumper. For the 2022 model year, it carries over unchanged. There are three trim levels available known as the S, SV, and SR. Standard on all trims is Nissan Safety Shield 360, a 7" touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. All models get the same 1.6L 4-cylinder engine that delivers 122 horsepower with front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Prices start at $19,990 for the S and range up to a starting price of $22,550 for the SR. Competition includes vehicles like the Chevrolet Trax, Ford EcoSport, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Kia Soul, Toyota CH-R, Subaru Crosstrek and Volkswagen Taos. I spent a week in a Kicks SV with a few options that checked in at $24,040 with delivery and destinations.... here's what stood out.
Styling is always a subjective category, and the Kicks will certainly have people on one side of the fence or the other. It offers a distinct look that is different from competitors. The 2021 refresh delivered a bold front fascia with Nissan's double V-motion grille flanked by horizontal headlights which are available with LED lights on the SR trim (along with fog lights). With most vehicles offering LED lighting standard now, it was noticeably less bright on the roads at night with the Kicks SV's halogen lights.
The side profile features the floating roof design with cladding on the C-pillar that separates the roof from the main body. Taller wheel arches give it a taller stance. Around back are LED combination lights that stretch across and around into the fenders giving it a wider presence. The overall proportions are good, and it does have a taller balanced presence despite its small size. Either 16" or 17" wheels are available. The 17" wheels are standard on the SV & SR and the designs look premium. Either black or machine-finish are available.
If you really want to stand out, opt for one of the bolder color choices offered in the Kicks like Electric Blue, Scarlett Ember, or Monarch Orange. Other available colors include Boulder Gray, Gun Metallic, Super Black, Aspen White, and Fresh Powder. A two-tone paint option is also available that adds a Super Black roof.
Fuel Efficiency (+)
When the Kicks arrived with a full 10.8-gallon tank it offered a range of approximately 365 miles. EPA gives it estimates of 31/36/33 MPG city/highway/combined and after a week of driving I averaged 31 MPG. These ratings are among the best in the subcompact class for a standard non-hybrid engine.
The Kicks will take you far on an affordable tank of gas, but it won't do it quickly. The sole engine is a 122 horsepower 1.6L four-cylinder with 114 lb.ft. of torque. The continuous variable transmission works well to keep things smooth, but there's just not much oomph to get it going. Around town in the suburbs or in a city environment, the Kicks is great, but the minimal power is felt when trying to pass or merge onto the highway. At highway speeds, it feels like it's working hard. As someone who enjoys a peppier car, I was left wanting more. However, as someone with a teenager approaching the driving age, less power may not be a bad thing.
Despite its lack of power, it remains composed on the road. Steering is direct, but not very responsive. It was great for running quick errands through busy parking lots as it is easy to navigate through tight spaces. The Kicks is fairly nimble thanks to a front independent strut and stabilizer bar suspension matched with rear suspension featuring twist beam and twin-tube shock absorbers. It absorbed road imperfections well without ever feeling like it would bounce off the road. For a light car, it is grounded to the pavement. All models come with all-season tires for decent grip in various conditions.
Nissan designed a simple interior that is very easy for any driver to hop in and get comfortable.
For a small vehicle, it feels especially roomy. There is plenty of head and leg room up front. Cloth upholstery and manual adjustable seats are standard. Available features include synthetic leather, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, and a center armrest. The seats offered good support and were comfortable. They are positioned higher which provides good visibility and will be appreciated by drivers with a shorter stature. With a high roofline, even the back seats offer a fair amount of head room. All three of my kids fit across the back seat and didn't feel overly cramped. Materials are class appropriate and are easy to clean. There's a fair amount of hard plastics on the doors, but that's to be expected for a vehicle at this price.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of cargo space when I opened the hatch of the Kicks to unveil 25.3 cu.ft. of space behind the seats. The seats also fold down (although not completely flat) to increase that space to 53.1 cu.ft. These numbers beat the Honda HR-V, Toyota CH-R, Hyundai Kona, Chevy Trax, and Ford Ecosport. For comparison, the i Kona offers 19.1 / 45.8 cu.ft and the Trax offers 18.7 / 48.4 cu.ft. The rear hatch of the Kicks also opens wide for easy loading but must be done so manually.
The Kicks offers all the basics, but nothing extra in terms of tech. Drivers will face a traditional cluster with a speedometer on the right side and an informational display on the left that can be customized for the driver. Either a 7 or 8-inch touchscreen is available that integrates with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It's user friendly and includes dials for both volume and tuning. Both USB A and C ports are standard along with an available Wi-Fi hotspot. Those ports are necessary for connections as there is no wireless connection or charging. An 8-speaker Bose sound system is an option on the SR, otherwise the rest get a standard 6-speaker audio system.
A long list of features known as Nissan Safety Shield 360 is standard on all models. These features include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, rear sonar and rear automatic braking. Also available are rear door alert, intelligent driver alertness, intelligent cruise control, and an intelligent around view monitor that provides a composite 360-degree birds-eye view of the area around your Kicks.
The Kicks is among a small list of vehicles that have a starting and end price in the low $20k range making it a huge value. It's a stylish crossover that offers an impressive amount of space inside. Unfortunately, it lacks overall power under the hood, but still manages to deliver solid handling making it an ideal urban commuter. With a long list of standard safety features and all the basics one would need without much fuss, it's worth a test drive.
First Impression Summary
Test Vehicle: 2022 Nissan Kicks SV
Exterior Color: Monarch Orange / Super Black Two Tone
Interior Color: Charcoal LeatherOptions: Two-Tone Premium Paint ($595) and 17" black alloy wheels ($495)
MSRP as tested: $24,040 (With Delivery/Destination)