2021 Nissan Kicks first drive review: More for your money

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The Nissan Kicks is an inexpensive vehicle, but it’s not affordable. Updated for 2021, this likable subcompact crossover presents hundreds of higher-stop capabilities and plenty of inside house, all at a discount-basement value. 

This refreshed 5-door added benefits from extra standard engineering, some insignificant inside modifications and, possibly most noticeably, improved exterior styling. New wheel models are provided, moreover SV and SR trims acquire rear disc brakes. At both equally ends, the Kicks’ bumpers are reworked and there is certainly a new, a lot extra rugged-seeking grille that dispenses with the outgoing model’s cheeky cuteness. This vehicle’s new confront is a lot hardier than right before, extra in line with the relaxation of Nissan’s utility-vehicle lineup. Top-shelf SR versions also arrive with higher-tech seeking multireflector LED headlights.

Trying to keep issues interesting, seven exterior paint colours are provided, like 3 new hues. The Kicks is also obtainable with 5 two-tone mixtures, like Electric Blue with a Tremendous Black roof, which is what you see here. It can be a sharp-seeking coloration plan and I applaud Nissan for giving two-tone paintjobs on its autos.

This crossover’s inside is a no-nonsense affair, with a uncomplicated dashboard layout. The weather controls come to feel excellent and are very simple to function, moreover both equally the front and rear seats are supportive and comfortably elevated so it does not come to feel like you might be plopped on the floor. Yes, there is certainly a large amount of challenging plastic in the Kicks, but none of it is gross-seeking or fragile. Its fuzzy headliner is about the only inside component that is cheesy.

Gussying issues up, the optional High quality Deal incorporates interesting vinyl seating surfaces. Not only do they come to feel great, they appear excellent, way too, accentuated with contrast-coloration stitching. Apart from that, this package also brings a heated steering wheel and heated front seats to the desk, as nicely as an upscale Bose seem method with eight speakers, like some in the driver’s seat headrest. This is a stable giving and I appreciate individuals headrest-mounted seem emitters. They genuinely support supply an immersive listening expertise.

2021 Nissan Kicks SR

Irrespective of its affordability, the Kicks’ inside is strong, cheerful and roomy.


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Up front, a tiny extra storage house would be great as the centre console is very small, but there is a shocking total of cargo space with the rear backrests up. Fold them down and you get a hell of a large amount extra junk-hauling house even if the load floor is much from flat.

Irrespective of its small dimensions and economical value, this Nissan comes standard with all forms of valuable engineering like rear automated braking, lane-departure warning and blind-place monitoring. Automated crisis braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-website traffic notify and even automated higher beams are incorporated at no additional charge as nicely. Handy satellite audio controls on the steering wheel and even Apple CarPlay and Android Automobile are baked appropriate into every single solitary variant.

Beyond that standard machines, my top rated-trim SR take a look at model is equipped with some quality capabilities, like specific up and down front home windows, keyless entry with push-button get started, automated brake keep and adaptive cruise command. (Sad to say, Nissan’s great ProPilot Guide adaptive cruise with lane centering is not provided.) It even has a fantastic 360-diploma camera method that is greater than what you get in numerous a lot-extra-high priced Toyotas these times, and it has 1 roof-mounted grab take care of at every single outboard seating placement. This last item may perhaps not seem critical, but it’s a great touch, specially in a reduced-charge vehicle.

2021 Nissan Kicks SR

It can be not incredibly powerful, but at minimum this 1.6-liter motor is effective.


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As for speeds and feeds, the Base S model comes with a 7-inch touchscreen display, but the SV and SR variants characteristic a somewhat extra expansive eight-incher. This panel is house to an infotainment method that is basically sufficient. Visually, it appears to be pretty outdated, but it will get the task done, moreover, if you might be likely to use CarPlay or Android Automobile, it does not genuinely subject. Just plug your cell phone into 1 of the 3 standard USB variety-A ports (a variety-C outlet is provided in SV and SR versions) and you should not appear back. SV and SR versions also arrive with a handy driver-info centre in the instrument cluster. With a 7-inch monitor, it’s simple to go through and kid’s participate in to reconfigure. The obtainable High quality Deal mentioned previously also adds a couple of higher-tech goodies, like above-the-air updates for the head unit and an in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot.

Nestled powering the Kicks’ extra-intense grille is a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder motor. With such small displacement and no compelled induction, it is, not shockingly, alternatively anemic. Horsepower actions 122 although torque clocks in at just 114 pound-feet, likely about as a lot as you get in reduced gear on a Huffy bike. As right before, a repeatedly variable transmission sends individuals products exclusively to the front tires considering that all-wheel push is not provided.

Reasonably smooth and silent, this motor is nonetheless overmatched. Yes, it will get the task done, that CVT maximizing its meager output, but in no way does it make the Kicks come to feel agile or responsive. Merging and passing maneuvers need to be planned nicely in progress — or prevented completely — as there is certainly valuable tiny functionality in reserve. But hey, what this scrappy crossover lacks in outright giddy-up is extra than made up for in efficiency. The Kicks really should return 31 miles for every gallon in the city and 36 mpg on highway drives. Count on 33 mpg put together, a figure I had no problems matching in authentic-earth testing.

This Nissan’s ride top quality is fairly refined, even though you should not hope it to take up and digest bumps like a Rolls-Royce. Impact harshness is reduced and the suspension irons out a lot of the road’s grittiness, even though the ride can be a tiny bit choppy at situations, possible for the reason that of the quick, 103.1-inch wheelbase. 

2021 Nissan Kicks SR

You could do a large amount even worse than the Nissan Kicks… like purchasing a Ford EcoSport, for instance. 


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Toss the Kicks into a corner and it responds with a bit extra human body roll than I’m used to these times. It can be not horrifying, but it does at times come to feel tippy. Sad to say, the steering is way too light and absolutely synthesized.

But the refreshed Kicks is when yet again a fantastic worth. The foundation S model commences at $20,595, like $1,095 in supply expenses. That is an enhance of just 430 bucks in contrast to a very similar 2020 edition. Complete pricing will be announced nearer to its on-sale date, which is envisioned to be in February, even though even a loaded-up SR variant really should be really economical, possible topping out in the mid-20s.

When much from a driver’s vehicle, the Nissan Kicks even now impresses many thanks to its generous standard machines, obtainable tech and usually pleasurable inside. If you might be shopping for a subcompact crossover like the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR or Chevy Trax, look at out the Kicks, it could possibly just shock you.