New 2018 Nissan Kicks SUV New 2018
Nissan Kicks SUV

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

The 2018 Nissan Kicks is a brand-new vehicle, and among the latest crop of affordable, fresh-faced subcompact crossover SUVs. The de facto replacement for the oddball Juke, the Kicks is a far more appealing gateway into Nissan’s SUV lineup. Starting under $19,000 and rising only a few thousand beyond that, the new Nissan Kicks is a standout value even among high-value rivals like the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona and Chevrolet Trax. Unlike those competitors, the Kicks doesn’t offer all-wheel drive, nor is it all that powerful. But the Kicks is surprisingly comfortable for its size and boasts a class-leading 36 mpg on the highway. Throw in impressive standard safety features, and the Kicks is a smart choice for youthful drivers or as a city runabout.

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You'll Like This SUV If...

If you want a small crossover SUV that is stylish, efficient and practical, all at a price around $20,000, put the Nissan Kicks on your must-drive list. Like the new Toyota C-HR and Mazda CX-3, the Kicks also comes standard with automatic emergency braking

You May Not Like This SUV If...

If you want all-wheel drive for enhanced traction, you’ll have to step up to a Rogue Sport or opt for a rival like the Hyundai Kona or Mazda CX-3. Those small crossovers also are more powerful -- especially a turbocharged Kona -- and more fun to drive. They also offer more amenities like a power-adjustable driver seat and a moonroof.

What's New for 2018

The 2018 Nissan Kicks is an all-new vehicle. A collaboration between Nissan’s design studios in California and Brazil, the Kicks has standout exterior style, standard automatic emergency braking, and must-have tech like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. At under $19,000, the Kicks is Nissan’s least-expensive SUV.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

Few will mistake the new Nissan Kicks for being fast or even all that fun to drive, but it is more than adequate for urban duties and basic commuting. While it only has 125 horsepower under the hood, the Kicks is a light vehicle, so there isn’t much mass to move. The Kicks is relatively nimble and surprisingly comfortable given its size. A small turning radius makes U-turns and parking maneuvers a breeze. Like many other Nissans, the 2018 Kicks uses a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). CVTs provide high fuel economy, but tend to drone as they don’t have set shift points like a traditional automatic. There are no steering wheel paddles or even a manual mode to replicate gear shifts. The Kicks does have a quasi-secret Sport mode (a tiny, nondescript button on the back of the transmission selector), but we found it didn’t make much difference in acceleration. At freeway speeds, the Kicks can be a little jittery, especially on uneven pavement. It’s fine for shorter highway trips, but wouldn’t be our first choice for a cross-country trek.

Favorite Features

BOSE AUDIO SYSTEM
Available on top-trim Kicks SR models is the first-of-its-kind Bose Personal Plus premium sound system. Among its eight speakers are two in the driver’s seat headrest that truly give whoever’s behind the wheel the best seat in the house.

STANDOUT STYLE
Nissan was among the first automaker to make the D-pillar behind the rear windows into a style statement in vehicles like the Murano and Maxima. The Kicks crossover SUV is the latest to adopt it, and can further stand out with a contrast-color roof that’s as affordable ($150) as it is stylish.

Vehicle Details

Interior

Nissan has a knack for making comfortable and roomy interiors, and the 5-passenger Kicks is the latest to showcase those attributes. Like other vehicles in Nissan’s lineup, it has NASA-inspired “zero-gravity” seats that are indeed quite comfortable. One of the Kicks’ best aspects is a built-in armrest on the right-hand side of the driver’s seat, a rarity in new vehicles and especially one at this price-point. All models come with a central 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system to operate audio, phone connectivity, and more. There isn’t a lot of storage space up front for smaller items like phones and purses, but there is commendable room in back for sports gear and shopping bags. With the rear seats up there is 25.3 cubic feet of storage, and folding them creates over 53 cubic feet. Those figures put the Kicks among tops in its class, though it doesn’t reach the numbers or flexibility of Honda’s HR-V. At 33.2 inches, rear-seat legroom is also notably less than the Honda’s 39.3 inches.

Exterior

To our eye, the new Nissan Kicks is among the best looking subcompact SUVs. It’s handsome overall and has enough interesting features to give it flair without going overboard. It’s far less polarizing than the Juke, Nissan’s former entry-level SUV. All Kicks models feature a “floating roof” design, thanks to darkened window pillars. On SV and SR trims, the Kicks can be ordered with a white or black roof for only $150. It’s possibly the best stylistic value out there. Base S models ride on 16-inch steel wheels, while SV and SR trims have better-looking 17-inch aluminum alloys. Roof rails come standard across the line for added practicality, and SR models have a nifty rear roof spoiler.

Notable Standard Equipment

Nissan’s Kicks is available in three grades: S, SV and SR. At its least-expensive, the 2018 Nissan Kicks includes basics like air conditioning and cruise control, and nice-to-have features like push-button start, three USB ports, extendable sun visors, and driver’s side armrest. A significant feature is forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, which can apply the brakes if the driver doesn’t in an impending collision. The basic infotainment system consists of a 7-inch touch-screen display and a 6-speaker AM/FM audio system with USB inputs, Bluetooth streaming, and Apple Siri Eyes Free.

Notable Optional Equipment

For $1,700 more, we recommend stepping up to the Kicks SV. It adds another vital active-safety feature -- blind-spot monitoring -- along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, 17-inch wheels, heated side mirrors, automatic climate control, rear-seat vents, and cargo cover. Top-line SR models add LED headlights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, fog lights, and Nissan’s Around View Monitor with a 360-degree bird’s-eye view. Aside from accessories and the option of a black or white roof, there’s only one major option package, and it’s only available on the Kicks SR. The Premium Package adds the Bose audio system, heated front seats with upgraded material, and a security system.

Under the Hood

The Nissan Kicks uses a small 4-cylinder engine paired with a CVT automatic transmission. Unlike rivals such as the Hyundai Kona and Kia Soul, no upgraded engine option is offered. Also unlike other small SUV rivals -- but similar to the Toyota C-HR and Kia Soul -- the Kicks is only available with front-wheel drive (FWD). If you want all-wheel drive (AWD) for improved traction in cold-weather states, you’ll have to look to a rival or one of the Kicks’ bigger brothers like the Rogue or Rogue Sport. Though it isn’t very powerful or all that exciting, the Kicks’ powertrain returns high fuel-economy figures.

1.6-liter inline-4
125 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
115 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/36 mpg

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Pricing Notes

The 2018 Nissan Kicks has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $18,965, including destination charge. The more recommendable Kicks SV model is also budget-friendly, slotting in at $20,665. Even a loaded Kicks won’t break the bank -- an SV model with the contrast roof option and sole Premium Package comes in at $22,415. At these prices, the Kicks is a highly attractive compact crossover-utility vehicle that undercuts most rivals. About the only competitor that goes for less is the Kia Soul. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new car. As it is an all-new model with no history, the Nissan Kicks’ resale value is still to be determined.

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