The 2018 Nissan Kicks puts the automaker into full crossover mode, even if it stretches the definition of what’s crossing over what.
This subcompact five-door is Nissan’s answer to the Kia Soul and the Hyundai Kona. Each forges its own path and the Kicks has its own story to tell.
Here are five things worth knowing about the 2018 Nissan Kicks.
Dogs love trucks and Nissan loves crossovers
With the Kicks, Nissan dealers now stand ready to sell crossover shoppers one of six crossover and SUV options. The Kicks serves as the gateway to that lineup and, for many buyers, it may very well be the gateway to the Nissan brand.
The pint-size Kicks stretches about four inches shorter, bumper-to-bumper, and three inches narrower than the Nissan Rogue Sport, but it feels much more compact inside for passengers than those numbers suggest.
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The Kicks is an American product. That’s America, as in both North and South. Its genesis was a concept car that debuted not in Detroit or Paris but in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Nissan’s design studios in San Diego and Sao Paulo collaborated on the Kicks. The automaker’s designers told us they wanted something that stood out on the congested streets of Brazil. There, despite a Carnaval culture that overwhelms the senses, cars the size and price of the Kicks are drab boxes in Brazil. The Kicks certainly stands out.
No AWD, and here’s why
Nissan calls the Kicks a crossover. In some ways, it is: drivers sit up high, its two-box proportions are hardly sedan humble, and it has 7.0 inches of ground clearance.
Yet there’s no all-wheel-drive option, meaning it’s not the kind of vehicle that will see many Jeep owners begging to trade in their SUVs.
The Kicks rides on the same architecture as the Nissan Versa and it’s simply not set up for all-wheel drive. Moreover, at about $23,000 with every option box ticked, the Kicks’ price well undercuts competitors and doesn’t encroach on the pricier Rogue Sport parked across the Nissan showroom.
2018 Nissan KicksEnlarge Photo
Premium branded speakers and inexpensive cars haven’t gone together much in the past, but the 2018 Kicks changes that. Tick all the boxes to get a Kicks SR with the Premium Package and you’ll find that the driver’s head rest is like a mini boombox with speakers projecting from either side.
The Kicks debuts Bose’s new Personal collection, but passengers can get in on the experience, too. Through the infotainment screen, users can choose if they want the sound to envelop the driver or to spread throughout the cabin for a more immersive experience.
Slow car fast, kind of
The 2018 Kicks defies its 125-horsepower rating, at least in some situations. It’s not an entertaining car to drive in the traditional sports car sense, but its quick steering and careful tuning of the continuously variable transmission (CVT) make it a hoot to punt around at slower speeds.
A tiny turning radius—just 34.1 feet—means this little car can squirt into tight spots with ease.
We’re not saying a Kicks spec racing series on a go-kart course should happen, but, well, you read it here first.