The Nissan Kicks is just one more example as to why small cars are on the way out. The Kicks is good fun to drive and extremely efficient.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Cars aren’t doing as well as they once did. The reason? Modern crossovers and SUVs deliver the “car-experience” with a bonus be it AWD, more boot-space and a higher driving position or all of the above. Sure they’re a little more expensive than equivalent cars but they typically include more kit. This is the case with the 2019 Nissan Kicks.
With a starting price of $18,298 for the base S trim, it’s no small wonder why the aging Nissan Sentra, which starts at $16,698 with a manual transmission, is dying a slow and painful death. Factor in the CVT and air conditioning, which are standard with the Kicks, and the Sentra’s price rises to $19,798. This is essentially internal sabotage. But there’s a clear winner: You.
For your information, my tester was an SR trimmed example. At $23,398, it includes a Bose Personal Plus Sound system with headrest speakers (a pointless gimmick IMO), around view monitor, remote starter and the Prima-Tex, aka faux-leather, interior trim. The better option is the $21,298 SV trim with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated seats, automatic climate control, keyless-start and 17-inch wheels.
The new Nissan Kicks is one of the most affordable crossovers on the Canadian market but it’s not “cheap.” And this is part of the CUV’s massive appeal. I’m evidently no fan of the Sentra however the Nissan Versa Note has always found favor with. Despite its relative age now, I still like the 5-door hatchback but once more, when including the CVT automatic transmission, the base “S” Versa Note’s price climbs to $15,998, or $2,300 less than the Kicks. The difference is covered by a more powerful engine, more boot space, and numerous tech features.
All of this to say that the 2019 Nissan Kicks is a value king, or queen, I won’t judge. Some of its closest rivals, such as the 2020 Kia Soul, retail for roughly $3,000 more. But like I said, the Kicks is not a poor choice.
The Kicks’ styling is difficult to debate – among Nissan’s more modern such as the excellent Altima, it does look slightly dated. This does not however take away from the fact that its conventional and clean lines are appealing to a far broader audience than the Kia Soul’s very unique and polarizing design.
The cabin is much the same where form takes a backseat to function. Even so, ergonomics are spot-on with clearly identifiable pods of various controls. The standard 7-inch colour monitor with surrounding buttons is easy to navigate while nothing could be simpler to engage than the HVAC controls situated just below it. I’ve got nothing but love for the flat-bottomed steering and the decently comfortable seats. The rear bench is surprisingly spacious, enough so to get three adults across in decent comfort.
The principal fault with the 2019 Nissan Kicks is the trunk. Somehow, Nissan rates its volume at 716 litres but it’s not possible. I reviewed a Porsche Cayenne around the same time and they say the trunk has a capacity of 770 litres – between you and I, the Porsche’s boot looks twice as big. As well, the rear seatbacks do not fold flat which is an issue for longer objects.
It’s all good news going forward, however. The Nissan V platform, which also underpins the aforementioned Versa Note, and the Renault Captur, is one of the best in the segment. Its rigidity and quality are appreciable through its impressive driving behaviour and level of refinement.
Nothing could be less impressive to read that the Nissan Kicks mechanical specs but the sum of them all is far greater. The independent front and rear twist-beam suspension is equipped with dampers that are permitted to relay a comfortable ride and decent handling – this is thanks to the platform. The brakes consist of front discs and rear drums but braking power is very good with pedal feel to match.
And then, there’s the powertrain. The 122-horsepower 1.6-litre 4-cylinder and mated CVT transmission are “geared” for urban life. In fact, off the line, the engine and transmission combo is so responsive that you’d swear the Kicks 50 pounds of torque over the advertised 114 lb.-ft. This feeling doesn’t last as the engine quickly runs out of breath. Even so, this is good fun in and about town.
As a value-packed proposition, the Nissan Kicks is also quite easy on the wallet. My returned fuel consumption average hovered in the 7.25L/100km range. A light right foot will keep the number below this number.
The Nissan Kicks major flaw could be that AWD is not available. If this is an important criteria, the Nissan Qashqai, at $25,498 is an excellent option. Otherwise, the Kicks is great.