The 2020 Nissan Kicks starts at $19,070 in the U.S. and from $19,398 in Canada, freight and delivery charges excluded.
Spacious cargo hold, lots of standard safety features, excellent fuel economy.
Modest output, questionable fit and finish, no heated steering wheel.
These past few years, we’ve seen the emergence of a new type of subcompact crossover vehicle. The Urban SUV category now includes a range of models, one of the more recent being the 2020 Nissan Kicks.
The 2020 Nissan Kicks shares the dealership showroom floor with the Nissan Rogue Sport/Qashqai, another subcompact SUV. On the other hand, while the Rogue Sport/Qashqai seeks to please small families or empty-nesters, the Kicks aims young urban professionals.
Under the hood, we find a 1.6L four-cylinder engine that develops 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque, matched to a continuously variable automatic transmission. The Kicks is rated at 31/36/33 mpg in the U.S., 7.7/6.6/7.2 L/100 km in Canada, city/highway/combined.
Standard features in the 2020 Nissan Kicks include an infotainment with a seven-inch touchscreen, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as well as SiriusXM compatibility are available in uplevel trim levels. In the range-topping SR grade, a Bose Audio sound system with unique, driver headrest-mounted speakers is available as well. Also available are an intelligent key system, a 360-degree camera system, a remote engine starter, 17-inch alloy wheels, climate control, heated front seats and Prima-Tex seat and dashboard upholstery with orange contrast stitching.
Competition for the Nissan Kicks includes the Kia Soul, the Toyota C-HR, and the Hyundai Venue, which all share one important characteristic: the non-availability of all-wheel drive, even on the options list.
In this case, can we still call them SUVs? Technically, yes. However, it’s easy to realize that the Kicks replaced the Versa Note hatchback in Nissan’s North American product lineup, although it’s better equipped, more modern and—more expensive, because it’s a utility vehicle.
In addition, many advanced driver assistance systems are fitted as standard, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, rear automatic braking as well as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
In the U.S., the Kicks S starts at $19,070 before freight and delivery charges, while SV retails for $20,700 and the SR is listed from $21,320. In Canada, the Kicks S starts at $19,398 while the SV and SR variants are offered from $22,098 and $24,098, respectively.
Why You Should Buy a 2020 Nissan Kicks
- The Kicks is affordable. The mid-grade SV hits the sweet spot with alloy wheels, climate control, intelligent key with remote start as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Canadian-spec Kicks SV also gets heated seats as well.
- The 2020 Nissan Kicks is the most fuel-efficient urban crossover, better than the aforementioned Soul, Venue and C-HR. It’s also one of the most frugal non-hybrid utility vehicles in the market. During our winter test, we managed 30 mpg or 7.9 L/100 km, which is pretty good.
- There’s plenty of cargo space behind the rear seats, with a volume of 25.3 cubic feet or 716 litres. That’s surprisingly good given the 2020 Nissan Kicks’ size. It’s among the most spacious in the subcompact segment.
- As is the case with many Nissan products, the Kicks’ climate and audio controls are easy to use while driving. The wheel-mounted controls are also well laid out and the button shapes make them very quickly decipherable with our fingers.
- We like that many advanced safety features are standard, even in the base trim level.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy a 2020 Nissan Kicks
- We get that costlier trim levels offer more features, but why not include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the base Kicks S? The latter already has the seven-inch touchscreen and USB ports, so there’s no real excuse to not offer this software integration, other than to entice buyers to move up to the SV. Also, a heated steering wheel isn’t available at all.
- The Kicks we tested had some build quality issues. The hood wasn’t perfectly lined up with the front fenders, and in the cargo area, there was some yellow seat foam sticking out from a seam on the rear seatback.
- With only 122 horsepower on tap, we can obviously expect modest performance from the 2020 Nissan Kicks. It’s a sufficient output for tooling around town, but a little patience—or some planning—is required for merging on a busy highway.
- We applaud the Kicks’ cargo room with the rear seat in place, but fold the latter down and volume barely increases. Furthermore, we don’t obtain a flat load floor.
- The 2020 Nissan Kicks’ cabin isn’t very well insulated, as road and suspension filters through. It’s not a big deal, but its competitors can do better.
The Kicks is an interesting urban runabout, with a fuel-efficient engine, plenty of features and a low price. It also boasts a trendy design and although it doesn’t wear the brand’s V-Motion grille very well, the overall shape is appealing, and a two-tone paint scheme is available as well.
We just wish this subcompact crossover was quieter, was built with a little more rigour, and could be equipped with a heated steering wheel. All things the Hyundai Venue offers at a similar price point.