The 2021 Kicks appears sharper than its predecessor.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

So far as inexpensive small vehicles go, you might positively do worse than the Nissan Kicks. It is an environment friendly, feature-rich little factor, and for brand spanking new automobile consumers on a funds, the Kicks is without doubt one of the finest total values obtainable at this time.

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Wonderful gas economyLots of driver-assistance featuresExcellent total worth

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All trims want LED headlightsInterior might use extra personalityNo all-wheel drive possibility

The Kicks will get a much-needed glow-up for 2021, with styling that is manner much less frumpy than earlier than. It is a good look, and whereas I personally favor the extra extroverted designs of rivals just like the Kia Soul or Hyundai Venue, I feel the Kicks is altogether extra refined than the wacky Hyundai Kona or Toyota C-HR. You get 16-inch wheels on the bottom Kicks S, however SV and SR trims improve to bigger 17s. My SV take a look at automobile has the non-obligatory black-painted alloys, which price $495 and would most likely look higher alongside one of many obtainable two-tone paint schemes — one with a black roof, for instance.

The Kicks’ inside performs it down the center with a no-nonsense design. The controls are precisely the place you count on them to be and not one of the buttons or stalks really feel flimsy. Certain, the doorways are lined with arduous plastic and the piano black trim across the gear shifter won’t ever, ever look clear, however the stuff you will contact most frequently — the steering wheel, window switches, infotainment controls, and many others. — are all good. I do want the cup holders weren’t one massive rectangle with a partition within the center, although. Smaller drinks like, oh, I do not know, a grande vanilla nonfat latte from Starbucks can simply tip over whereas making a flip. Ask me how I do know.

Nissan’s superior Zero Gravity seats aren’t obtainable within the Kicks, however the fabric chairs in my SV tester are however snug, and so they even have an fascinating diamond sample for a little bit visible aptitude. You sit excessive up within the Kicks, too, and the seating place is good and cozy for a 5-foot, 8-inch common dude like myself. Plus, this increased seat top provides you a pleasant, commanding view out the entrance and aspect home windows — and it is higher on your posture, too.

The again seats are serviceable, however higher suited to smaller adults or youngsters, and there is sufficient room behind them to schlep a few carry-on luggage or a buying cart’s value of groceries. The Kicks provides 25.3 cubic ft of area with the rear seats upright, which bests the Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Kona and Kia Soul. Nevertheless, fold the bench flat and also you solely get 32.3 cubic ft, which is sort of half the max capability of the Soul and worse than the aforementioned Ford and Hyundai. If it’s good to haul on the common, the Kicks may not be for you. However since most individuals will use the hatch with out folding the again bench, I am glad Nissan selected to err on the aspect of seat-up spaciousness.

The inside appears plain, however it’s quiet and the seats are snug.

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Each Kicks makes use of the NissanConnect multimedia system, with each Apple CarPlay and Android Auto normal. The bottom Kicks S has a 7-inch touchscreen however the SV and SR use a barely bigger, 8-inch head unit; these higher trims get an extra 7-inch show contained in the gauge cluster, too. NissanConnect’s graphics are dated and the menu construction is form of bizarre, however it’s simple sufficient to plug your cellphone into one of many USB ports and let the Apple or Android software program do the heavy lifting. SV and SR trims include each USB-A and USB-C retailers, by the best way.

An enormous promoting level for the 2021 Kicks is the sheer quantity of normal driver-assistance tech. Automated emergency braking (entrance and rear), blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alert are normal throughout the board, even on the bottom, $20,000 mannequin, and SV and SR trims add adaptive cruise management. No, you possibly can’t get Nissan’s cool ProPilot Help freeway driving assistant, however that is not a complete deal-breaker. You’ll be able to, nevertheless, get a 360-degree digicam on this little man, although it is solely obtainable on the top-level SR.

There is not a lot to get enthusiastic about beneath the hood, however the Kicks’ powertrain is however enough and environment friendly. The 1.6-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine produces 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque, which sound fairly dismal on paper, however on the highway, it’s very effective. Keep in mind, the Kicks solely weighs 2,744 kilos in its heaviest spec, in order that engine would not have a ton of automobile to lug round. The Kicks solely comes with front-wheel drive, nevertheless, so if you happen to’re in search of a tiny CUV with AWD capabilities, strive the Honda HR-V or Mazda CX-3.

SV and SR fashions get an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

You’ll be able to solely get the Kicks with a repeatedly variable transmission. And earlier than you balk on the concept of CVT, remember that Nissan’s been providing this transmission sort for years, which means the corporate’s had plenty of time to fine-tune its so-called Xtronic setup. Severely, the Kicks has the most effective CVTs round, quietly working within the background with out the high-revving drone that individuals are likely to affiliate with these transmissions.

Plus, that CVT helps the Kicks return bangin’ gas economic system. Official EPA rankings aren’t obtainable simply but, however Nissan estimates you will see 31 miles per gallon within the metropolis, 36 mpg freeway and 33 mpg mixed — numbers proper according to what I noticed in the actual world. That makes the Kicks extra environment friendly than plenty of different small crossovers, beating the Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Venue, Kia Soul and extra.

The Kicks handles each day driving duties admirably, and it is truly fairly enjoyable to drive. The suspension is properly tuned for each metropolis and freeway driving and the brakes are sturdy with strong pedal really feel. The steering is mild, similar to each different small crossover, however it rapidly responds to inputs, and extra importantly, the Kicks is simple to maneuver and park. Nobody is anticipating the Kicks to be a thrill, however it’s a wonderfully nice little runabout. Yeah, it is pokey, however it would possibly shock you on a winding highway.

These black-painted 17-inch wheels are a $495 possibility.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

You may get right into a Kicks for as little as $20,595, together with $1,095 for vacation spot. The midgrade SV provides plenty of the niceties you will truly need, and it begins at a still-affordable $22,395. The loaded SR is available in at $23,035, and its solely big-ticket possibility is the $1,200 Premium Bundle, which brings the value to $24,235 delivered.

The SV grade ought to make up the majority of Kicks gross sales, however I truly assume a loaded SR is the very best worth. The SR will get you all the very best driver-assistance tech and it additionally comes normal with LED headlights (and foglights). That final bit is particularly necessary — the halogen lamps on my SV take a look at automobile are so uninteresting that, at one level, I truly pulled over to verify I had the low-beams on and wasn’t simply counting on the working lights (like so many different oblivious Los Angeles drivers). LED headlights are brighter and due to this fact safer. Why they don’t seem to be normal on each automobile at this level is form of past me.

It is arduous to beat the Kicks’ total worth.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

However the loaded SR’s virtues prolong past illumination. Add the Premium Bundle and also you get heated seats, a heated steering wheel and that premium Bose audio system you have most likely heard — you realize, the one with audio system within the driver’s headrest. Nothing makes a cheap automobile really feel premium fairly like heated seats and a kickin’ (get it?) stereo. All that and extra for lower than $25K? I do know it is not all the time simple to swing a pair thousand further whenever you’re on a good funds, however you will even be arduous pressed to seek out this many facilities for this little money.

The Kicks performs in a super-crowded class, alongside every part from the dumpy Chevrolet Trax to the dumpier Ford EcoSport to engaging and compelling hatchbacks from Korea just like the Hyundai Kona, Venue and Kia Soul. Personally, I might most likely go together with the Soul if it have been my cash; the Kia has a greater inside and it is nicer to drive, as properly. Even so, the Nissan nonetheless provides extra options, and it is extra environment friendly than anything in its section. Any manner you slice it, the Kicks provides nice worth and it is arduous to argue with that.

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