2024 Nissan KicksSep 19th, 2023
Affordability is paramount for the Nissan Kicks, which beats the starting price of many of its subcompact competitors, such as the Mazda CX-30, Kia Niro, and Volkswagen Taos, by several thousand of dollars. And the savings don’t stop there; during our real-world highway fuel-economy test, the Kicks beat its EPA estimate to the tune of 37 mpg. However, its inexpensiveness isn’t without some sacrifice. Working hard to save you money is a meek 122-hp four-cylinder attached to a continuously-variable automatic transmission. “Quick” isn’t in this powertrain’s vocabulary, and neither is all-wheel drive, as the Kicks is exclusively front-wheel drive. Inside, there’s an impressive host of standard driver-assistance tech and a cabin that’s surprisingly practical. But for the Kicks, it’s all about that price.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Every Kicks model is powered by a 122-hp four-cylinder engine that provides barely adequate acceleration. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) handles shifting duties and drives the front wheels; all-wheel drive is not offered. If the leisurely 9.7-second jog to 60 mph makes the Kicks sound slow, that’s because it is. However, the test results we recorded are only half the story. Around town, it feels surprisingly perky, so long as you’re willing to push deep into the throttle and let the engine rev. The Kicks is nimble and more fun to throw around than some larger SUVs, but it’s no thrill ride on a twisty road. The suspension is tuned for comfort, and it provided a well-cushioned ride even over the pitted and crumbling roads around our offices in southeast Michigan. The steering is direct and accurate, but there’s very little feedback that comes up from the road to the driver’s hands.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Interior styling is less trendy than the exterior design, but it the Kicks is well-built, looks grown-up, and has a user-friendly interior. An adult-sized rear seat means it can haul people and cargo without the cramped feeling one might experience in rivals such as the C-HR. Splashes of color throughout the cabin do a nice job of breaking up the monotony of what would otherwise be an all-black interior. Despite its small size, the Kicks impressed us with its results in our cargo tests, matching and beating some larger rivals. We managed to fit 19 of our carry-on suitcases with the rear seats folded. Small-item storage is at a premium in the cargo area and the back seat, but front-seat occupants won’t notice the pinch thanks to large door pockets and a large glovebox.