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2021 Nissan Kicks - Review by Larry Nutson

2021 Nissan Kicks Review (select to view enlarged photo)

Urban friendly

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau

Larry Nutson
Through three-quarters of 2021 Nissan overall sales are up 23 percent. Although, the last quarter has seen some declines due to the ongoing microchip shortage and the impact on vehicle production. Sales of the Nissan Kicks are up 52 percent for the year and were strong in the last quarter showing gains with sales up 7 percent versus prior year.

The Kicks was introduced three years ago to fill a need in Nissan’s lineup for a subcompact urban friendly crossover utility vehicle (UV).  According to Nissan, Kicks has a solid following throughout the world as a crossover of choice for young, multicultural singles and the young-at-heart.

2021 Nissan Kicks Review (select to view enlarged photo)

For 2021 Kicks features new styling that includes a bold front end design with a more aggressive bumper, new "Double V-motion" grille, and new headlights with a high-tech look. The rear of the Kicks has a new rear bumper, rear hatch finisher, full-width "one-line" rear LED combination light and new rear finisher. The Kicks SR grade adds super-thin LED multi-reflector headlights as well as LED fog lights.

There are new wheel designs too. And, new colors were added which include the choice of five two-tone paint options. Two-tone--it must be the 1950s all over again.

Inside the Kicks the cabin features new seating materials that have a more saturated color. The SR Premium Package featuring Prima-Tex-appointed seating with three-tone design and stitching. There’s also a new, full center console on every Kicks. New on SV and SR grades are standard Intelligent Cruise Control and an electronic parking brake with auto hold.

2021 Nissan Kicks Review (select to view enlarged photo)

2021 Nissan Kicks Review (select to view enlarged photo)

Under the hood of all Kicks trims is a 122-hp 1.6-L 16-valve I4 engine that is paired with a Xtronic CVT transmission driving the front wheels. EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings are 33 mpg combined with 31 city mpg and 36 highway mpg. The fuel tank holds 10.8 gallons which, theoretically, will give you a bit under 400 miles of driving range.

The 5-passenger Kicks is offered in S, SV and SR trims. All are equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 7-inch touchscreen on the S with an 8-inch touchscreen on SV and SR, and Nissan’s suite of Advanced Safety Shield 360 technology including class-exclusive Rear Automatic Braking.

Kicks pricing starts at $19,500 for the S trim. SV is priced at $21,300 and SR is $21,940. Destination charge is an additional $1,150.

2021 Nissan Kicks Review (select to view enlarged photo)

I got my kicks driving a Kicks SR finished in two-tone Electric Blue with Super Black roof at an extra cost of $250. Options on this Kicks included Rear Roof Spoiler Exterior Package that also includes crossbars and an exhaust finisher ($435), carpeted floor and cargo mats ($225), illuminated kick plates ($460), interior electronics package ($575) that includes 20-color ambient lighting, door pocket light and auto-dimming rear view mirror, black alloy wheels ($495) and the Premium Package ($1,200).

The Premium Package is only offered on the SR trim and includes 8-speaker Bose audio, Prima-Tex appointed seats, heated steering wheel and front seats, cargo tonneau cover, security system and Nissan Connect Services and WiFi hot spot.

All totaled the bottom line came to $26,730 including shipping.

The Kicks is Nissan’s smallest utility vehicle. It offers interesting styling, a high level of features and overall good value. It’s great for the young, new driver in a household and equally good for getting around in a densely populated and busy large city.

The not-too-long Kicks is easy to maneuver. Its short wheelbase can cause it to pitch a bit on bumpy streets. The CVT equipped engine does make itself heard and the cruising speed noise level in the cabin is slightly elevated. Overall, the ride is comfortable and well suited for the Kicks’ role.

With 114 lb-ft of torque acceleration does not push you back in the seat. However, the low fuel consumption is the reward. I will say the Kicks does just fine in those lower speed, stop sign to stop sign, city drives while going about your daily business.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Front seat room is decent. The rear seat can be tight for some adults. Cargo room is more than you might expect. Behind the 60/40 split folding rear seat there’s 25.3 cu.ft. of space. Fold the seat and that opens up to 32.2 cu.ft.

More facts and figures on the 2021 Nissan Kicks can be found at

There are a number of good offerings in the subcompact UV segment. The Nissan Kicks offers lots of value and is well equipped. Unless you live in the mountains where it snows every day you may be just fine with front-wheel drive. Go get your kicks!

Happy Motoring!

© 2021 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy