2021 Nissan Kicks review: The virtue of value

The 2021 Kicks appears to be like sharper than its predecessor.

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As considerably as economical compact cars go, you could undoubtedly do worse than the Nissan Kicks. It is an successful, aspect-wealthy little point, and for new auto shoppers on a budget, the Kicks is 1 of the greatest overall values out there today.


  • Outstanding fuel overall economy
  • Heaps of driver-help options
  • Outstanding overall value

Never Like

  • All trims need LED headlights
  • Inside could use a lot more temperament
  • No all-wheel push option

The Kicks gets a significantly-essential glow-up for 2021, with styling which is way significantly less frumpy than prior to. It is a good appear, and when I personally prefer the a lot more extroverted styles of opponents like the Kia Soul or Hyundai Location, I believe the Kicks is entirely a lot more refined than the wacky Hyundai Kona or Toyota C-HR. You get sixteen-inch wheels on the base Kicks S, but SV and SR trims enhance to larger sized 17s. My SV test auto has the optional black-painted alloys, which cost $495 and would possibly appear greater together with 1 of the out there two-tone paint techniques — 1 with a black roof, for instance.

The Kicks’ interior performs it down the center with a no-nonsense layout. The controls are exactly in which you be expecting them to be and none of the buttons or stalks experience flimsy. Certain, the doorways are lined with tough plastic and the piano black trim all around the equipment shifter will in no way, ever appear thoroughly clean, but the stuff you are going to touch most generally — the steering wheel, window switches, infotainment controls, etc. — are all wonderful. I do desire the cup holders weren’t 1 massive rectangle with a partition in the center, nevertheless. More compact drinks like, oh, I really don’t know, a grande vanilla nonfat latte from Starbucks can conveniently suggestion in excess of when creating a switch. Inquire me how I know.

Nissan’s magnificent Zero Gravity seats are not out there in the Kicks, but the cloth chairs in my SV tester are even so snug, and they even have an interesting diamond sample for a little visual flair. You sit superior up in the Kicks, way too, and the seating situation is wonderful and snug for a 5-foot, 8-inch ordinary dude like myself. Plus, this greater seat height presents you a wonderful, commanding watch out the front and aspect home windows — and it can be greater for your posture, way too.

The back seats are serviceable, but greater suited to smaller adults or small children, and there’s ample space driving them to schlep a couple of carry-on baggage or a buying cart’s value of groceries. The Kicks gives twenty five.3 cubic ft of space with the rear seats upright, which bests the Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Kona and Kia Soul. On the other hand, fold the bench flat and you only get 32.3 cubic ft, which is nearly 50 % the max potential of the Soul and worse than the aforementioned Ford and Hyundai. If you need to haul on the common, the Kicks may not be for you. But considering that most people today will use the hatch with no folding the back bench, I am glad Nissan chose to err on the aspect of seat-up spaciousness.

The interior appears to be like plain, but it can be quiet and the seats are snug.

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Each and every Kicks works by using the NissanConnect multimedia technique, with both Apple CarPlay and Android Car regular. The base Kicks S has a seven-inch touchscreen but the SV and SR use a marginally larger sized, 8-inch head device these higher trims get an further seven-inch display inside of the gauge cluster, way too. NissanConnect’s graphics are dated and the menu structure is type of odd, but it can be straightforward ample to plug your phone into 1 of the USB ports and let the Apple or Android software program do the major lifting. SV and SR trims occur with both USB-A and USB-C outlets, by the way.

A substantial offering issue for the 2021 Kicks is the sheer sum of regular driver-help tech. Automatic emergency braking (front and rear), blind-location checking, lane-departure warning, parking sensors and rear cross-traffic inform are regular across the board, even on the base, $20,000 design, and SV and SR trims include adaptive cruise regulate. No, you can’t get Nissan’s great ProPilot Help freeway driving assistant, but which is not a total deal-breaker. You can, having said that, get a 360-degree camera on this little guy, nevertheless it can be only out there on the top-amount SR.

There isn’t really significantly to get fired up about less than the hood, but the Kicks’ powertrain is even so adequate and successful. The 1.6-liter by natural means aspirated four-cylinder motor makes 122 horsepower and 114 pound-ft of torque, which seem very dismal on paper, but on the highway, it can be absolutely fine. Bear in mind, the Kicks only weighs 2,744 pounds in its heaviest spec, so that motor would not have a ton of auto to lug all around. The Kicks only comes with front-wheel push, having said that, so if you happen to be seeking for a very small CUV with AWD abilities, try out the Honda HR-V or Mazda CX-3.

SV and SR styles get an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Car.

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You can only get the Kicks with a consistently variable transmission. And prior to you balk at the idea of CVT, really don’t ignore that Nissan’s been presenting this transmission sort for a long time, which means the firm’s experienced a whole lot of time to fine-tune its so-identified as Xtronic setup. Very seriously, the Kicks has 1 of the greatest CVTs all around, quietly working in the history with no the superior-revving drone that people today are inclined to affiliate with these transmissions.

Plus, that CVT can help the Kicks return bangin’ fuel overall economy. Formal EPA ratings are not out there just yet, but Nissan estimates you are going to see 31 miles per gallon in the town, 36 mpg freeway and 33 mpg combined — figures appropriate in line with what I observed in the actual earth. That helps make the Kicks a lot more successful than a whole lot of other compact crossovers, beating the Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Location, Kia Soul and a lot more.

The Kicks handles everyday driving duties admirably, and it can be essentially very enjoyment to push. The suspension is nicely tuned for both town and freeway driving and the brakes are powerful with solid pedal experience. The steering is light, just like just about every other compact crossover, but it speedily responds to inputs, and a lot more importantly, the Kicks is straightforward to maneuver and park. No 1 is anticipating the Kicks to be a thrill, but it can be a perfectly nice little runabout. Yeah, it can be pokey, but it may shock you on a winding highway.

These black-painted 17-inch wheels are a $495 option.

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You can get into a Kicks for as little as $20,595, including $1,095 for vacation spot. The midgrade SV adds a whole lot of the niceties you are going to essentially want, and it commences at a nonetheless-economical $22,395. The loaded SR comes in at $23,035, and its only massive-ticket option is the $1,two hundred Premium Bundle, which brings the rate to $24,235 sent.

The SV quality should really make up the bulk of Kicks product sales, but I essentially believe a loaded SR is the greatest value. The SR gets you all the greatest driver-help tech and it also comes regular with LED headlights (and foglights). That final little bit is specially significant — the halogen lamps on my SV test auto are so dull that, at 1 issue, I essentially pulled in excess of to make sure I experienced the minimal-beams on and was not just relying on the operating lights (like so quite a few other oblivious Los Angeles motorists). LED headlights are brighter and hence safer. Why they are not regular on just about every auto at this issue is type of over and above me.

It is tough to conquer the Kicks’ overall value.

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But the loaded SR’s virtues extend over and above illumination. Add the Premium Bundle and you get heated seats, a heated steering wheel and that high quality Bose audio technique you have possibly listened to — you know, the 1 with speakers in the driver’s headrest. Very little helps make an low-cost auto experience high quality really like heated seats and a kickin’ (get it?) stereo. All that and a lot more for significantly less than $25K? I know it can be not usually straightforward to swing a couple thousand additional when you happen to be on a tight budget, but you are going to also be tough pressed to locate this quite a few features for this little hard cash.

The Kicks performs in a tremendous-crowded course, together with every little thing from the dumpy Chevrolet Trax to the dumpier Ford EcoSport to beautiful and powerful hatchbacks from Korea like the Hyundai Kona, Location and Kia Soul. Individually, I might possibly go with the Soul if it were being my dollars the Kia has a greater interior and it can be nicer to push, as well. Even so, the Nissan nonetheless gives a lot more options, and it can be a lot more successful than something else in its section. Any way you slice it, the Kicks gives wonderful value and it can be tough to argue with that.