Goodbye Juke, hello Kicks

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(December 12, 2017) Nissan has dropped the youthful but design-challenged Juke crossover for a more mainstream design sourced from Mexico, the Kicks. Though a subcompact — like the slightly larger Rogue Sport introduced earlier this year — the Kicks is significantly larger than the Juke, with a 3.5-inch longer wheelbase, 6.7-inch greater length and 0.6-inch greater height.

This not only increases room for passengers, it more than doubles the cargo space behind the rear seats to 25 cubic feet and makes the Kicks a more focused competitor for vehicles like the Honda HR-V and Chevy Trax.

The V-Motion grille, “floating” roof design, boomerang headlights and taillights, and black wheel arch trim are straight from the mainstream Nissan playbook. To make it a bit more playful, buyers can choose a two-tone color scheme. Order the Kicks in white, orange or red, and you can ditch the body color roof for a black one. Check the gray color box, and there’s an option for an orange roof. Or you can add a white roof to a blue body.

That’s about as far as the excitement goes, however. If you want the 1.6-liter turbo motor, six-speed manual transmission or all-wheel drive that was available on the Juke, forget it.

The Kicks has a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter producing 125 horsepower and 115 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission, and is available only with front-wheel drive. With luck, a NISMO version will follow.

On the plus side, Automatic Emergency Braking is standard on all trim levels, as is a backup camera, Bluetooth and three USB ports. Move up to the SV, and you get standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, 17-inch wheels, automatic climate control, and remote start. The SR trim level adds a 360-degree monitor, and other trim items. Order the SR Premium Package and you get the Bose Personal Plus sound system. It features neodymium speakers mounted in the driver’s headrest.

Pricing, which will be set closer to the Kicks’ launch in spring, will start below $19,000.

The Virtual Driver