The Nissan Kicks is a cheap car, but it surely’s not low-cost. Up to date for 2021, this likable subcompact crossover affords a great deal of high-end options and loads of inside house, all at a bargain-basement value. 

This refreshed five-door advantages from extra customary know-how, some minor inside adjustments and, maybe most importantly, enhanced exterior styling. New wheel designs are provided, plus SV and SR trims achieve rear disc brakes. At each ends, the Kicks’ bumpers are reworked and there is a new, rather more rugged-looking grille that dispenses with the outgoing mannequin’s cheeky cuteness. This car’s new face is far hardier than earlier than, extra in keeping with the remainder of Nissan’s utility-vehicle lineup. High-shelf SR fashions additionally include high-tech trying multireflector LED headlights.

Retaining issues attention-grabbing, seven exterior paint colours are provided, together with three new hues. The Kicks can be out there with 5 two-tone mixtures, together with Electrical Blue with a Tremendous Black roof, which is what you see right here. It is a sharp-looking shade scheme and I applaud Nissan for providing two-tone paintjobs on its automobiles.

This crossover’s inside is a no-nonsense affair, with an easy dashboard structure. The local weather controls really feel good and are easy to function, plus each the entrance and rear seats are supportive and comfortably elevated so it does not really feel such as you’re plopped on the ground. Sure, there’s numerous arduous plastic within the Kicks, however none of it’s gross-looking or fragile. Its fuzzy headliner is about the one inside element that is tacky.

Gussying issues up, the elective Premium Package deal contains engaging vinyl seating surfaces. Not solely do they really feel good, they give the impression of being good, too, accentuated with contrast-color stitching. Other than that, this package deal additionally brings a heated steering wheel and heated entrance seats to the desk, in addition to an upscale Bose sound system with eight audio system, together with some within the driver’s seat headrest. This can be a strong providing and I like these headrest-mounted sound emitters. They actually assist present an immersive listening expertise.

Regardless of its affordability, the Kicks’ inside is sturdy, cheerful and spacious.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Up entrance, a bit extra space for storing could be good as the middle console is sort of small, however there’s a shocking quantity of cargo room with the rear backrests up. Fold them down and also you get a hell of much more junk-hauling house even when the load flooring is much from flat.

Regardless of its small dimensions and reasonably priced value, this Nissan comes customary with every kind of helpful know-how together with rear automated braking, lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring. Automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert and even automated excessive beams are included at no further price as nicely. Helpful satellite tv for pc audio controls on the steering wheel and even Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are baked proper into each single variant.

Past that customary tools, my top-trim SR check mannequin is fitted with some premium options, like categorical up and down entrance home windows, keyless entry with push-button begin, automated brake maintain and adaptive cruise management. (Sadly, Nissan’s glorious ProPilot Help adaptive cruise with lane centering isn’t provided.) It even has an amazing 360-degree digicam system that is higher than what you get in lots of much-more-expensive Toyotas as of late, and it has one roof-mounted seize deal with at every outboard seating place. This final merchandise might not sound necessary, but it surely’s a pleasant contact, particularly in a low-cost car.

It isn’t very potent, however no less than this 1.6-liter engine is environment friendly.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

As for speeds and feeds, the Base S mannequin comes with a 7-inch touchscreen show, however the SV and SR variants function a barely extra expansive 8-incher. This panel is residence to an infotainment system that is merely ample. Visually, it appears to be like fairly outdated, but it surely will get the job accomplished, plus, if you are going to use CarPlay or Android Auto, it does not actually matter. Simply plug your telephone into one of many three customary USB type-A ports (a type-C outlet is obtainable in SV and SR fashions) and do not look again. SV and SR fashions additionally include a useful driver-information heart within the instrument cluster. With a 7-inch display screen, it is easy to learn and kid’s play to reconfigure. The out there Premium Package deal talked about earlier additionally provides a number of high-tech goodies, together with over-the-air updates for the top unit and an in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot.

Nestled behind the Kicks’ more-aggressive grille is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. With such small displacement and no compelled induction, it’s, not surprisingly, slightly anemic. Horsepower measures 122 whereas torque clocks in at simply 114 pound-feet, in all probability about as a lot as you get in low gear on a Huffy bike. As earlier than, a constantly variable transmission sends these items solely to the entrance tires since all-wheel drive isn’t provided.

Comparatively easy and quiet, this engine is nonetheless overmatched. Sure, it will get the job accomplished, that CVT maximizing its meager output, however by no means does it make the Kicks really feel agile or responsive. Merging and passing maneuvers should be deliberate nicely prematurely — or averted altogether — as there’s treasured little efficiency in reserve. However hey, what this scrappy crossover lacks in outright giddy-up is greater than made up for in effectivity. The Kicks ought to return 31 miles per gallon within the metropolis and 36 mpg on freeway drives. Anticipate 33 mpg mixed, a determine I had no bother matching in real-world testing.

This Nissan’s experience high quality in all fairness refined, although do not count on it to soak up and digest bumps like a Rolls-Royce. Influence harshness is low and the suspension irons out a lot of the highway’s grittiness, although the experience generally is a little bit uneven at occasions, seemingly due to the brief, 103.1-inch wheelbase. 

You would do rather a lot worse than the Nissan Kicks… like shopping for a Ford EcoSport, for example. 

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Toss the Kicks right into a nook and it responds with a bit extra physique roll than I am used to as of late. It isn’t horrifying, but it surely does often really feel tippy. Sadly, the steering is just too mild and completely synthesized.

However the refreshed Kicks is as soon as once more an amazing worth. The bottom S mannequin begins at $20,595, together with $1,095 in supply charges. That is a rise of simply 430 bucks in comparison with an analogous 2020 model. Full pricing will likely be introduced nearer to its on-sale date, which is anticipated to be in February, although even a loaded-up SR variant ought to be extraordinarily reasonably priced, seemingly topping out within the mid-20s.

Whereas removed from a driver’s car, the Nissan Kicks nonetheless impresses due to its beneficiant customary tools, out there tech and customarily nice inside. When you’re purchasing for a subcompact crossover just like the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR or Chevy Trax, try the Kicks, it’d simply shock you.

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