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2018 Nissan Kicks Review - A Crossover For The City By Larry Nutson

2018 Nissan Kicks  (select to view enlarged photo)
2018 Nissan Kicks

2018 Nissan Kicks
A Crossover for the City

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Nissan is at it again bringing another new SUV to the market. This time it’s the entirely new 2018 Nissan Kicks. It’s a new nameplate and a new entry in the very popular and fast growing compact crossover SUV segment.

On the invite of Nissan I got to hear all about what’s new from the Kicks team at Nissan, talk with the designers at Nissan Design America, their Southern California design center, and spend some time behind the wheel of a Kicks to judge for myself.

In case you are wondering the higher priced Juke is gone from the lineup and Kicks slots in below the Rogue Sport.

The Kicks is aimed at younger, city-living buyers. Of course anyone can buy a Kicks, and certainly buyers will come from all cultures and demographics.

Value is the story with the Kicks. Prices start at $17,990.

Not only is there value, there are lots of things that come standard for the price. Notably, all Kicks have Automatic Emergency Braking as standard as well as Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Intelligent Around View Monitor are available on higher trim levels.

2018 Nissan Kicks (select to view enlarged photo)

And the Kicks is well styled too. From the signature Nissan V-motion grille and the boomerang headlamps, to a strong side character line over the shoulders, to the floating roof over the boomerang rear taillights the Kicks is attractive and good looking.

2018 Nissan Kicks  (select to view enlarged photo)

The Kicks has seating for five, is front wheel drive (only) and is powered by a 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder rated at 125 horsepower and 115 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is Nissan’s Xtronic CVT. Nissan says the EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings are best-in-class in all three segments at 31 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined.

In my drive around the San Diego area my drive partner and I thought the engine and transmission combination worked very well together. The transmission is not your typical CVT since Nissan has worked some magic with its D-step shift logic dynamic tuning to make it feel and behave like a traditional multi-gear automatic. The Kicks is very responsive. There is no feeling of lack of power, nor any struggles with hills or freeway on ramps. A part of this comes from the Kicks’ low curb weight. In other words, it has a high power to weight ratio. In our mixed city and highway driving we got 31 to 32 mpg.

And by the way, I don’t see the lack of an all-wheel drive option as a detriment. If you live in a big city where it snows there usually are other transportation options as well as the fact that the roads get cleared of snow fairly quickly. Or, when a blizzard hits…just work from home. Another option in cold climate regions would be to fit winter tires on all four corners during the cold months, which might just be the smarter way to go.

The Kicks comes in S, SV and SR trims with an optional Premium Package available on the SR. The Kicks S comes with Automatic Emergency Braking, bluetooth hands-free phone system, three USB ports, keyless entry, push button start, roof rails and Intelligent Auto Headlights.

Kicks SV adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Nissan Intelligent Key, 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, body color heated outside mirrors and outside door handles, tonneau cover, Automatic Temperature Control, Easy Fill tire alert, 7.0-inch advanced driver alert display, SiriusXM satellite radio, remote engine start and more.

Kicks SR adds a sporty flair with the addition of LED low beam headlights with LED signature accents, fog lights, black heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather shift knob, SR seat fabric with interior trim and accents, front and rear bumpers with body color inserts, rear roof-mounted spoiler, dark chrome grille accents, Intelligent Around View Monitor and more.

The price steps for each trim are: S at $17,990, SV at $19,690, and SR at $20,290. The SR with Premium Package costs $21,290 and includes the new class-exclusive Bose Personal Plus sound system with a pair of lightweight 2.5-inch Bose UltraNearfield neodymium speakers located inside the driver’s seat headrest.

2018 Nissan Kicks  (select to view enlarged photo)

If you’ve been shopping new vehicles lately you may have noticed that two-tone exterior paint is a thing--again. The Kicks comes in a range of seven exterior colors – plus five two-tone combinations. Three of the two-tone color schemes utilize a black roof and contrasting body colors (white, orange or red), along with an orange roof/grey body combination and a white roof/blue body combination.

In my drive we found the Kicks to have good all-around, well-balanced ride and handling. The electric power steering is speed-variable with good on-center feel and is nicely weighted and linear. Overall cabin noise is well managed with minimal tire and wind noise. Kicks has a small 34.1 ft. turning diameter and together with its short overall length makes for easy big-city maneuvering.

2018 Nissan Kicks  (select to view enlarged photo)

2018 Nissan Kicks  (select to view enlarged photo)

There’s plenty of front seat room with very good head and leg room that Nissan says is best-in-class. The rear seat can comfortable carry your friends.

The cargo area is plenty roomy for hauling groceries, loading in your sports gear or taking a weekend road trip with 25.3 cu.ft. of space with the 60/40 split rear seat upright and 53.1 cu.ft. with it folded.

Nissan is targeting younger, lower income adults with its marketing. I believe the Kicks deserves consideration in any household. The Kicks makes a perfect vehicle for a new-driver high school student. With the driver assistance safety features on the SV model certainly I would want my teen driver to have this advantage. Many families shop a used car for a new teen driver. The smarter move today is to give them all the safety tech you can.

Forward collision braking helps prevent the most common kind of front and rear crashes that aren’t high speed but do lead to vehicle damage and injuries. Something to think about!

© 2018 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

This report comes from an invitation-only Nissan launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Nissan provided my overnight accommodations, meals, and transportation.