This week, I bring you the 2018 Nissan Kicks, a new entry into the hot compact crossover market. Before we get into the review, I want you to bear in mind that the base price on this model is just over $20,000, which is pretty amazing.
This is the top-of-the-line SR model, but you can step down to the S, or the SV, which are even less expensive.
2018 Nissan Kicks SR
I like the edgy looks of the Kicks, the LED headlights go deep into the front fender. The 17” alloy wheels have black accents, the Kicks has fog lights, and it features the floating roof that Nissan has on many of its vehicles. Roof rails come standard for ski racks or whatever, and I find the cut of the tailgate to be interesting. Usually, they are pretty square, this one is not.
The Kicks comes in 7 colors on the body, and you can choose from 5 different roof colors.
Under the hood sits a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder non-turbo engine that is only putting out 125-horses, but because the Kicks is very light, it feels like more. It also has the Continuously Variable Transmission, but I have to say it’s not annoying. Nissan sort of programs in fake shifts, so it doesn’t feel like the rubber band is about to break. All Kicks models come only as front-wheel drive.
Two things surprised me about this crossover. One was the level of equipment, including safety features. Second was the interior, which is exceptional for the money.
Entering the cabin, orange stitching highlights the black seats and dashboard. The gauges are easy to read, and the left side is configurable. You can see the tachometer, see what music is on, check your fuel economy, bring up a digital speedometer, and change lots of settings.
There is not much in the way of a center console, just the push button start, the shifter, and one of the three USB plugs. There are cup holders, but they sit too far back to really be useful. Also strange to me, there is an armrest for the driver attached to the driver’s seat, but none for the passenger.
Everything runs from a very simple to use 7-inch touchscreen that controls the sound system, vehicle info, settings, and a wonderful backup camera with a 360-degree view. Just below that is your automatic temperature controlled air conditioning.
Legroom and headroom in the back seat was larger than I imagined. Nissan says it will seat five, but the middle person in the back seat better be a child.
Standard Features and Options
The Kicks SR comes with a nice list of standard features, like heated seats, remote start, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth.
More impressive is it also comes with standard automatic emergency braking. That feature is not found on any other vehicle that starts at under $18,000.
My tester has $1150 worth of options that consist of the painted roof, the leather seats, and an 8-speaker Bose stereo. Two of those speakers are in the driver’s headrest, and you can use the Bose Personal Space option to make the sound mainly for you, or you can share it with other passengers. The cargo area was larger than I expected at 25.3 feet with the back seat up.
Ride, Fuel Economy and What You’ll Pay
The Kicks rides much better than I expected, the steering is responsive and effortless, and the turning radius is extremely tight. Interior quietness is fine, not annoying at all. Acceleration is somewhat sluggish, but you give that up to get 31 miles per gallon city, 36 highway, and 33 overall.
Here’s the best part. Total MSRP on this Kicks, as equipped, is $22,630, which is an outstanding value by today’s standards.
Here is the thing I cannot figure out: Nissan says it is a crossover SUV, but what makes it that? They could just as easily say it is a new hatchback, and it would be hard to argue with that. The Kicks sits on the Nissan Versa chassis and has the same powertrain. The roof is taller, the tires larger, the cargo area is bigger. Looking at the market today, the Kicks as a crossover will bring at least $4000 more than if it were a hatchback. Now I get it.