Nissan Kicks joins the subcompact SUV battle Featured

Dec 08, 2018 Hit: 166 Written by 
The Nissan Kicks is a new entry in the subcompact SUV battlefield, which seems to grow every year.
The Nissan Kicks is a new entry in the subcompact SUV battlefield, which seems to grow every year. Photo by Matt Myftiu/

Subcompact SUVs seem to be growing on trees lately, and there’s yet another one in town. The Kicks is the latest vehicle in Nissan’s lineup, replacing the Juke at the low end of their SUV lineup.

I recently spent time in a Kicks and I’m back with a full report on what this little lifted subcompact has to offer.


By the very nature of being a subcompact SUV, the Kicks is small and the back seat is tight. It’s best for people who don’t plan to have a lot of folks in the back seat regularly. Storage space is decent for the class if you put down the rear seats. The materials used inside were pretty basic, nothing fancy, and the comfort level of the driver’s seat was a bit disappointing.

Exterior design looks sharp on the Kicks, much better than the funky-looking design of the Juke. The Kicks comes with 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Two-tone color schemes are offered to attract more buyers.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2018 Nissan Kicks
  • Price as tested:: $21,425
  • Best feature:: Sharp looks, low price
  • Rating:: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: SUV buyers on a budget who aren't looking for power


The Kicks is a little SUV, and it has just a little bit of power. It features a 1.6-liter, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine that pairs with a CVT transmission. Numbers are 125 horsepower and 115 lb.-ft. of torque.

It’s a FWD vehicle only, with no AWD offering to be found.  

In terms of straight-line speed, you get slow acceleration (almost 10 seconds from 0 to 60). This is less power than I would have liked to see, and the turbo-charged Juke was more fun to drive, even if it was uglier and more expensive. Don’t come here looking for a performance vehicle.  

On the positive side, the small size of this little ute means it move around very well and respond well to your commands.


Being a budget-friendly ride, I didn’t expect a ton of safety and tech features. But I was pleasantly surprised.

All Kicks get a 7-inch touchscreen featuring a NissanConnect infotainment system that was mostly user-friendly. Navigation is offered, along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, plus Sirius satellite radio.

On the safety side, you get options for Blind Spot Warning (a helpful light will warn you of danger before you switch lanes), and the always helpful Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking are standard.

Official fuel mileage numbers are 31 city/36 highway, and I averaged at least 30 mpg during my time in the Kicks, perhaps a tick lower than listed. These are top-of-class numbers that beat out other subcompact SUVs on the market, including the Ford EcoSport and Honda HR-V.


There are three trim levels offered on the 2018 Nissan Kicks. The S trim level starts at $18,290; SV starts at $19,990; and SR starts at $20,590. My test vehicle had a grand total of $21,425. These are affordable prices and put it in line with or even lower than the main subcompact competitors from Ford, Toyota, Honda and Mazda.


The Kicks clearly targets urban buyers who want a compact vehicle that looks sharp and doesn’t waste gas, and aren’t overly concerned about power.

While its lack of power and limited size will prevent some from wanting to get their fix in the Kicks, many of those in the target market should jump at the chance and Nissan’s standing will continue to grow in the ranks of SUVs, alongside its very popular Rogue model.

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Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.



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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.


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