- Distinctive styling
- Standard automatic emergency braking
- City-size dimensions
- Decidedly short on power
- No AWD?
- Could be a great value
The 2018 Nissan Kicks is a high-riding compact hatchback, but its spec sheet doesn't look very thrilling.
The 2018 Nissan Kicks is a far more conventional crossover than its Juke predecessor. That doesn't mean it's a dullard in the looks department, though.
On sale in other parts of the world for the last few years, the 2018 Kicks arrives here in the U.S. with dramatic styling not matched by underhood muscle. With just 125 horsepower from its naturally aspirated, 1.6-liter inline-4 engine shuttled to the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), the Kicks could probably use a kick in the pants.
We'll know more when we drive one soon, but 125 hp and 115 pound-feet of torque puts the Kicks among the least-powerful new cars sold in the U.S. At least initially, the Kicks will not be offered with all-wheel drive. Underneath, a strut-type front suspension and a twist-beam rear axle are economy-car grade. Base versions of the Kicks ride on 16-inch steel wheels, while uplevel SV and SR trims feature 17-inch alloys.
Where the crossover stands out is in the looks department. A gaping grille up front and the illusion of a floating roof line help the Kicks avoid the awkward, frog-like appearance of the Juke. From head-to-toe, the Kicks stretches just 169.1 inches, which puts it about three inches shorter than the more bulbous Rogue Sport. The Kicks is just 69.3 inches wide and stands a mere 62.4 inches tall, splitting the difference between subcompact hatchbacks and small crossovers.
The sharp uptick to the crossover's belt line ahead of its rearmost roof pillar may cut into rearward visibility, but higher-spec models include blind-spot monitors and a rearview camera is standard on all trim levels.
Inside, the Kicks is more conventional. It's technically a five-seater, but the back seat is far more appropriate for two than for three passengers. Front seat riders are treated to supportive seats wrapped in fabric; no leather upholstery is available, further emphasizing the Kicks' entry-level positioning.
Rear seat space may be predictably tight, but the cargo area is a surprisingly commodious 25.3 cubic feet with the split-folding second row upright. That's a figure closer to what we'd expect to find in a compact crossover and not a subcompact like the Kicks.
The Kicks will be available in S, SV, and SR trim levels. Aside from a few minor options, most Kicks buyers will need only to pick their color and price point.
All Kicks crossovers will come standard with automatic emergency braking, automatic headlights, and Bluetooth connectivity. SV trims add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto displayed via a 7.0-inch screen for infotainment, plus alloy wheels, automatic climate control, and keyless ignition.
Topping the lineup is the Kicks SR that includes some appearance upgrades like LED accent lights and LED low-beam headlights plus a surround-view camera system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and heated exterior mirrors. A Premium Package for the SR adds Bose-branded audio, heated front seats, and a few other goodies.
Nissan hasn't announced pricing for the 2018 Kicks, but it's safe to assume that this entry to the automaker's crossover lineup will undercut the next-step Rogue Sport's roughly $22,000 base price.
The 2018 Kicks goes on sale in June 2018.