2018 Nissan Kicks: First Drive — Cars.com

2018 Nissan Kicks: First Drive — Cars.com

We’re here in San Diego California with
the newest member of Nissan’s lineup the 2018 Nissan Kicks. Nissan tells us that
the Kicks shouldn’t be thought of as a direct replacement for the Juke since
the Juke will still be sold in some global markets like Canada in Japan.
However for us in the United States effectively means that the Juke is dead
long lived the Kicks. While the outgoing Juke was definitely categorized as a
compact entry-level SUV, the Kicks is not so easily placed in any single
category. It has more in common probably with cars like the Hyundai Kona and the
Kia Soul rather than other SUVs like the Toyota C-HR or the Honda HR-V.
Part of the reason for this is that the Kicks is only offered in front-wheel
drive, if you want all-wheel drive you’ll have to go for one of Nissan’s other
SUVs. While the Juke was known for having very quirky styling the Kicks is a bit
more sedate and even though we’re not sure whether or not we should call in an
SUV it does have a few styling cues that are hallmarks of SUVs starting with this
lower black cladding along the body that makes it look more rugged. Nissan does
offer a heavy dose of interior and exterior customization with the Kicks.
Now the car that we’re looking at here is gun metallic with a monarch orange
roof and they also offer several other two tone paint configurations. You’ll
also have the chance to add accessories to the car much like this one has orange
inserts in the wheels an orange front lip spoiler and orange mirror caps and
each of those don’t actually cost as much as you might think
the wheel inserts are only about 75 dollars so if you find yourself jealous
of all the other kids with their Pumped Up Kicks it won’t cost you too much to
play along. The Kicks excels in two areas that are actually pretty important for
shoppers in this segment the first one will be value and the second will be
packaging and by packaging what we mean is how efficiently the car uses it’s space.
Now the Kicks is not a large vehicle it’s only about a hundred and sixty nine
inches long but the way that it uses that space is really impressive starting
with the cargo area. Now behind the rear seats there’s 25.3 cubic feet of cargo
space and that’s better than most everything else in this segment. Toyota
C-HR and the Hyundai Kona for example have about 19 cubic feet of
cargo space and both cars are longer than the Kicks. The Kicks backseat also
is split 60/40 and folds down for you to store longer cargo and this cargo cover
here is easily removable and you can store it at home if you need to pick up
things that are taller. Now the Kicks doesn’t just make
efficient use of its cargo area the cabin is also very efficiently used as
well. Nissan says that the Kicks actually has
best-in-class front legroom and headroom and the back seat which is usually an
area of weakness for these cars is actually a strength in the Kicks. I’m
about 5’11” and I’m sitting in the back seat and I’m very comfortable. I have
enough legroom between me and the front seat and there’s a ton of headroom which
is really really appreciated. One of the things that the Kick does very well is
visibility for both front and back seat passengers. The high roofline means that
you get a very clear line of sight through the windows and they’re tall all
around so for me someone who gets carsick that’s something that I really
appreciate and that’s being able to see out of the back seat. You also have
access to a few amenities, there are two USB charge ports right here in the
center console that you can reach easily. If there’s one thing that I don’t like
about the kicks backseat and there are no visible air vents so you’re gonna
depend on the front seat passengers for climate control. The Kicks is a
budget-friendly vehicle but I think that it actually does a pretty good job with
materials for its price. There are some hard points and that’s kind of
unavoidable in a car at this price so you have hard plastics along the windows
here and you know you’re missing things like an armrest for the front seat
passenger. However in the SR trim like we’re in now you that means you also get
a leather wrapped steering wheel and a leather-wrapped shift knob and for those
who want non-cloth seats you can pay an extra thousand dollars for the premium
package and that includes fake leather upholstery which was so good that it
actually fooled me at the LA Auto Show, I thought it was the real thing. The Kicks
does come standard with a 7-inch touchscreen media display however if you
want Android Auto and Apple CarPlay you’ll have to jump up to the SR or SV
trims. The screen itself is nice, it’s actually placed very well and most
people will be able to reach the buttons on either side without much trouble. If
there are too small caveats to it the first one is that it is a fingerprint
magnet you’ll have to carry some kind of cloth to keep it clean and it’s also not
quite bright enough in bright sunlight it gets washed out especially if you’re
wearing sunglasses. The Kicks isn’t really designed to have a really great
driving experience and it kind of shows. It’s what I would call competent on the
road. Under the hood it has a 1.6 liter four-cylinder engine that’s mated to a
CVT and that engine makes 125 horsepower which is enough to get you going but not
real quickly. The name Kicks strikes me as kind of
ironic because when you put your foot on the gas there’s not a lot of kick. This
is one of those CVTs where you get that lag from a stop you don’t get that real
crisp acceleration when you put your foot down. It does sort of downshift
unnaturally but like right there it’s more noise than fury. Now if there’s one
part about the Kicks driving experience that does stand out a little bit it’s
actually its confidence in corners. The Kicks has a very low curb weight about
between 2600 and 2,700 pounds. That puts it at about 600 pounds lower than
competitors like the Toyota C-HR and while this doesn’t really pay off in
terms of acceleration, it does make it feel rather nimble. Now right now we’re
in the SR model which Nissan says is the sportiest of the three Kicks variants
and this comes with something that the other two don’t have which is called active
ride control. Now that kind of sounds like an adaptive sort of suspension but
it’s not it’s actually a kind of a subtle system that uses the brakes as a
form of traction control but instead of just using it to keep the car stable it
can actually detect when you’re hitting bumps or other things in the road and it
uses very minut braking not to slow down the car but to make it stay balanced and
it actually pays dividends. The ride in this car is a highlight for me I think
that does a good job of smoothing out road imperfections and when you’re just
cruising it stays very flat and very composed even at highway speeds.
Another highlight for the Kicks is its fuel economy and that adds to the car’s
value. Now Nissan says that the Kicks has the best-in-class fuel economy for any
car in this class that isn’t a hybrid and it gets 31 mpg in the city and 36 on
the highway that’s good for a 33 combined number with again Nissan says
is class leading. The Kicks also offers good value when it comes to safety
features. All grade levels of the Kicks will come standard with automatic forward
emergency braking and that’s a feature that we really like to have in cars
because it’s proven to reduce accidents. If you jump up to the next level, the SV trim,
you’re gonna get blind spot warnings with rear cross-traffic alerts and if
you jump to the SR you’re gonna add an around view monitor which is very
helpful in situations like parallel parking. Though the Kicks does offer good
value with its safety features it does still trail competitors like the Toyota
C-HR. The C-HR comes with standard adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist
in addition to automatic forward emergency braking and those are two
features that aren’t even offered on the Kicks.
However the Kicks is still I would say above much of the class in this regard
and it’s worth calling out its value. Now whenever automakers releases a new car
they like to explain who exactly the target audience is and for Nissan they say
that they’re targeting multicultural buyers between the ages of 25 and 35
which is, I guess that’s me, and I’m a little bit ashamed to say that I think
that they hit their mark. I really like the Kicks. I think it delivers
excellent value and the interior packaging is great. It’s a small car that
can still fit four adults comfortably. I’m comfortable in saying that I think
that the Kicks will take off for Nissan in a way the Juke never did and a big
part of that is pricing. The Kicks actually starts at just under $19,000
including destination charges and we are here with the Kicks SR, the most
expensive trim, and it’s not even that expensive, $21,265. Compare that to the
Juke which started at just 40 dollars less than that but had less technology
and much less practicality and it’s easy to see why the Kicks is going to have
much more mass appeal. Now those wanting to kick the tires on
the Kicks that a dealership won’t have to wait long the car is in dealerships

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Have had them in stock for about a month now and have sold several. Though you would think that is won't have any get up and go.. I was pleasantly surprised with the first drive of the Kicks. The Kicks is light, so it moves plenty quick, very nimble, and very quietly as it sips on fuel. Very cool new addition to the Nissan Line-up. there are a ton of competitors out there that lag severely in this segment as the Reviewer states and roominess, versatility, and handling make it stand out. Definitely have to test drive it before ya judge numbers.

  2. Nissan sucks ass! I didn't know you can get ptsd from working on a car. I am replacing an engine on a 2013 rogue and let me tell you stupid stupid engineers don't know up from down. What a nightmare! Junk junk junk! !!!!!!!!

  3. The price is right   nicer than the juke better looking – and hrv  – and of course crv  the price is much more worth it  Honda even the hrv is to expensive

  4. The only two people friendly "reliable" quote on quote cars left with nissan are the Altima and the Maxima. I hope nissan steps up their game becuase i actually like Nissan and thr logo. The next car would be a gtr but no one has money to own a car like that.. well some people but majority of us are not that fortunate.

  5. i love this car and its gonna be my first car to buy too , its like the bigger sister of the jukes which i truly love 💕💕💁🏽‍♂️

  6. It's a good looking car inside and out but it really lacks in power. I can imagine how slow this car will be with a full load. Why not a 1.4 turbo? Make it 160hp that's plenty for a load and fun!

  7. Do not buy a Kicks that is not offered with the Electronic Stability Program (ESP), as it is extremely prone to rollover, as seen in this Mexican car review. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2TfqH2qPBA

  8. …… This vehicle was developed by Nissan-Renault alliance ONLY for latinamerica and other emergent economies … find it strange to see this review for the americn market ….

  9. I went to a dealership to check it out, and at first glance it was nice. I didn't test drive it though. I like small suv-ish types of vehicles, and I'm 6'4..I had to sacrifice much of the rear space by putting the seat back a few nodges, but luckily for me I wouldn't have anyone riding back there anyway. I'll stick with my Infiniti EX35 for now..

  10. Pumped up kicks song. https://youtu.be/SDTZ7iX4vTQ Nissan probably didn't use this song because the singer is talking about rubbing kids of their shoes. No it's not a rap song with black people in it. Yes I am a youtuber with 950+ videos that do have at lease one black person in them.

  11. Even though the Nissan Kicks is the new sub-compact SUV (competing with the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, Chevy Trax, Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Kona, and Kia Stonic) It's really closer in competition to the Kia Soul and Toyota C-HR because those are FWD only. The others have the option of AWD.

  12. the Juke does have more character. I love that they added more trunk space with the later models but the Kicks looks like the car to upgrade to from the Juke. its the next price point before you consider Xtrail and above. all in all, I love me some Nissan!! I had been a Toyota fan long enough, haha.

  13. The juke was a really fun car its design stood out and it had awd which did amazing in snow I ran it through 6-8 inches and never had problems this car is a disappointment. Thanks Nissan for your merger with Renault

  14. Nissan has no direction. Looks like they smashed a Juke & Rogue Sport together. Cheap materials. Cheap drivetrain. First generation? Get ready for the recalls!
    Nissan ranked #14 in reliability according to CR.

  15. This Kicks is a waste of money , here's why:

    => it's not an SUV – it's hardly a Crossover;
    => it's really a jacked-up Versa – making it hard to handle in emergency situations due to its high centre of gravity;
    => under-powered engine – which increases gas mileage; and
    => is overpriced.

    PS: the video says that the Juke is still sold in Canada – In Canada the Juke is gone as well…

  16. "Not really designed to have a great driving experience" LOL " …Because when you put your foot on the gas there's NOT alot of "Kick" " HAHAHAHA hey Nissan need some aloe for that BUUUUUUUURRRRRRNN LOL

  17. for low budget person this is good car. only Nissan offers 360 camera on low price models. very helpful option.once you use it you will love it.

  18. Damn, i acutally thought this car was kinda cute… im looking to replace my 09 suzuki SX4 but this car's engine is smaller, and my 0 to 60 is already garbage. Oh well, best keep looking :/

  19. kicks looks like a boringly styled car compared to the juke.
    bring back the juke, it had an original look.
    quit trying to be like every other car out there.

  20. Even my 2018 Toyota Corolla SE has more horsepower and a more reliable CVT. Nissan CVTs are made by Jatco while Toyota uses Aisin. Do not buy Nissan junk and invest your money in a reliable Toyota.

  21. Dont Need AWD !!! Front Drive is Good enough & 125 h.p. is Good Not taking on Super Cars need a nice comuter car& do Lyft Rides that is enough Vehicle for me

  22. I drove this car this week. I love the look of the car. Even more than that, I love the interior. It feels extremely roomy, and the dash looks very modern and clean. Overall it had the look and feel of cars priced $10k higher.
    What I found extremely disappointing was the 124 HP engine. Even the Kia Soul which costs about $1500 less, has 130 HP.
    I don't know what kind of margins Nissan has built into this, but these guys put 600 HP into the GTR. Surely they can engineer 10 more horses into this thing. Do that, and this would be the best car in it's class for sho.

  23. I think the car looks pretty nice, but they should’ve made it AWD or at least RWD imo. The gray and orange scheme, especially the mirror and wheel options, almost reminds me of one of the DS cars

  24. If only this came in a NISMO trim with a 1.6Turbo, 6-speed, and AWD, they would sell by the boatload. Nissan really fucked up with this one.

  25. This is honestly a great car! Especially for high school or college students like myself. I’m a college freshman and this is a great car. 😁

  26. I'm trying to learn how the inside works. Especially the screen. I don't know how to read texts messages. I connected to the blue tooth but now I have no idea how to do anything. I also thought it had a navigation system but I guess I was wrong but it had my cell phone navigation app on it lol

  27. I got 2 15s sub. was a bitch to get in, in my 2015 sentra. Now this kick is nice but not nice enough for me to drop my subs. Maybe a nismo will work but still looking into wrx sti thats worth it

  28. Great review, smokes Carguru, whose reviews, especially written, are often just plain wrong. In contrast you have noted something right from the start that is so important and mostly missed: the Kicks (aside from styling) is not as comparable to other compact SUV's/crossovers as it is to options you've mentioned. That others don't notice this really diminishes the believe-ability of the reviews. I'm sticking with cars.com for reviews! p.s.- I drive a 2020 Soul: while configured differently from the Kicks in its model options, they are great classmates and competitors. While this Soul is my favorite car ever (out of 12) the Kicks was my number 2 choice. The power and manual shift modes were among top features that figured into giving up the unbeatable style and fuel economy of the Kicks.

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