Kicks is a cute name for a new vehicle and an appropriate one for the latest Nissan. The 2019 Nissan Kicks is likely to boot its way into prominence in the blossoming compact utility vehicle segment.
The Kicks replaces the Juke as the entry point to Nissan’s extensive line of utility vehicles. It joins the Qashqai, Rogue, Murano, Pathfinder and Armada. The Kicks is a softroader, not an off-roader, available in front- wheel drive only. It goes into battle against an array of small utes, including: Chevrolet Trax, Ford EcoSport, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Kona, Jeep Renegade, Kia Soul, Mazda CX-3 and Toyota C-HR.
As the newest entry in this already crowded segment, the Kicks faces a formidable task. But it is equipped and priced to do just that. Designed in Nissan studios in Brazil and Los Angeles, the Kicks is a good-looking vehicle. From the trademark Nissan grill and “floating” roofline, to the taut rear quarters it is well proportioned.
The design team was also able to provide an impressive amount of people and package space within a small envelope. The front seats are a result of Nissan’s “zero-gravity” design program, and more comfortable than anything else that comes to mind in this class. There is room for two in the rear, three in a real pinch. Both head and legroom are above average, again considering the vehicle size.
There is a class-leading 716 litres of cargo space behind the rear seats.
A 17-cm colour touchscreen dominates the instrument panel. The centrally located monitor incorporates not only the infotainment systems but also rear and surround view displays. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity are available. On the SR trim level; an eight-speaker Bose audio system is standard, with two of those speakers located in the driver’s head restraint. The UltraNearfield system results in a true surround sound experience.
Regardless of trim level, the Kicks comes with tilt and telescope steering wheel, cruise control, power windows and locks, a/c, 17-cm touchscreen, wireless connectivity, front collision warning with emergency braking, rear-view monitor and Nissan’s Easy-Fill feature which provides an audible warning that you have reached the correct pressure when inflating the tires.
The Kicks is powered, sort of, by a 1.6-litre four producing 125 horsepower. Coupled with a continuously variable automatic transmission, performance is adequate, if not exactly scintillating. Under heavy throttle conditions, which happen frequently, the little engine is kept buzzing rather loudly at high revs. But, there is no trouble keeping up with traffic, and fuel economy can be impressive if the route does not include too many hills. I averaged about 7.5 litres per 100 kilometres for a week of mixed city and highway travel.
The good news is that this is an extremely light vehicle, at 1,215 kilos. That enables the engine to perform as well as it does and makes a major contribution to the fuel economy. It also allows the little ute to handle urban streets, and corners with ease. A tight turning circle makes light work of crowded parking lots. The ride on the open highway is pleasant and occupants are well insulated from nasty road surfaces.
The lack of all-wheel-drive
QModel: 2019 Nissan Kicks SR
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, 125 horsepower, 115 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel
Transmission: continuously variable automatic
NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 7.7 / 6.6
Length: 4,295 mm
Width: 1,760 mm
Wheelbase: 2,619 mm
Weight: 1,214 kg
Price: $22,798 base, $24,878 as tested, including freight
Competition: Chevrolet Trax, Ford EcoSport, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Kona, Jeep Renegade, Kia Soul, Mazda CX-3, Toyota C-HR
Options on test vehicle: may deter some consumers, but the Kicks does have traction and stability control. It also has hill start assist, which means it will remain at rest when you take your foot off the brake pedal, until you reach the accelerator.
The SR trim level, as tested, comes with a suite of latest generation safety features including forward collision and blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and a rear view monitor. That same screen is used for a standard “intelligent” around view monitor. A quartet of cameras provides a composite 360-degree view as would appear from above the vehicle. This is immensely helpful in locating objects front and rear as well as curbs in tight quarters or when parking. The intelligent part is that it provides a visible warning when it detects anything moving within close proximity to the car.
With an impressive combination of interior space, features and price, the Nissan Kicks will certainly make its presence known.