With an EPA of 31/36 mpg, the Nissan Kicks is an economic little urban road warrior. Strictly speaking, the Kicks is not a replacement for the Juke. The Juke is still in production. It is no longer sold in the U.S., so the Kicks is a replacement of a sort, but it is a different vehicle.
Its engine is modest, with 125-horsepower and 115 lb-ft of torque, but its curb weight is only 2650 pounds. It has a continuously variable transmission, often called a stepless or single-speed tranny. A CVT leads to greater fuel economy. The combination of this engine and this transmission design give the Kicks a fuel economy that outshines every nonhybrid in its class. Nissan offers no all-wheel drive options and no off-road bragging rights, but the Kicks is fun, economical, and its ride is pleasant and smooth.
In Automobile Magazine’s test drive, they found the Kicks surprisingly adept on twisty roads. Even in the mountains and on dirt roads, they said its ride was smooth and road noise was minimal. Their test driver lost his way a few times and said that turning the Kicks around was effortless.
Its most basic model, the Kicks S, comes standard with a 7-inch touch-screen color display at the dashboard’s center, Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth for phone and Bluetooth audio streaming. It has a push-button ignition start, cruise control, automatic headlights, power windows and back-lit control buttons on the steering wheel. The Kicks SV and SR models add SiriusXM radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a number of other standard features and optional additions.
Nissan claims that the vehicle can seat five adults. Car and Driver found that the interior is surprisingly roomy and will comfortably seat four. In fact, its front-seat leg room is greater than anything else in its class and greater than some in the next larger class. Zero gravity seats, influenced by NASA, are standard. It has exceptional head room, too. Even the hatch, when open, is high enough that a six-foot tall person will not have to duck.
Nissan provides a big list of optional features and accessories for every Kicks model. Heated front seats are optional in the Kicks SR, as is an 8-speaker Bose audio system with driver headrest speakers and six-channel custom equalizer.
The base model includes emergency braking and forward collision warning, vehicle dynamic control with traction control, remote keyless entry, variable intermittent windshield wipers and a back window wiper with intermittent setting.
The Kicks is loaded with air bags and supplemental air bags, like seat-mounted side-impact bags for the two front passengers and a knee air bag for the driver to supplement the already impressive front air bag system.
The SV and SR add advanced features, like NissanConnect, to the Kicks S’s already impressive 7-inch display. The SV and SR come standard with Nissan’s Advanced Drive-Assist, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic warning and remote engine start. The SR’s camera system covers 360 degrees. If anything is out there, the driver should see it.
The Kicks is ready for people who are modest and for those who are wildly self-expressive. To complement its trendy sculpted curves, Nissan has released a color configurator for the 2018 Kicks. A customer can mix and match color combinations for the body, the roof and even certain exterior pieces. One can choose three different colors for the door handles, mirror caps and roof spoiler.
Exterior colors include the following:
- Super Black
- Brilliant Silver
- Gun Metallic
- Cayenne Red
- Deep Blue Pearl
- Fresh Powder white
- Aspen White
- Monarch Orange roof (two-tone option only)
Nissan will only match the Monarch Orange roof with one of five standard colors. Otherwise, there are no limitations. The SV and SR trim levels offer wheel accents in several colors.
The interior design is traditional and elegant, with dark charcoal cloth seats. The SR is available with charcoal Prima-Tex seats, which are charcoal with orange stitching.
The tech-savvy 2018 Nissan Kicks is meant for urban driving, but surprising should one happen onto a dirt road. Its ride is smooth and quiet, it is comfortable and its fuel economy is at the top of its class. Car and Driver say it is the best of the sub-compact crossovers.