Nissan Kicks has big personality

By Casey Williams

(May 19, 2022) What kind of car do you really need?  My husband thinks he needs a twin-turbo German rocket wagon to get his kicks, but our budget determines otherwise.  What we need is an affordable compact crossover with style, technology, fuel efficiency, and enough interior space for four and their luggage.  Like many of you, we need a car like the 2022 Nissan Kicks.  It’s the smallest Nissan crossover, but it has a big personality.

The Kicks definitely strikes a pose in SV trim with its vivid orange metallic paint and black roof over 17” black alloy wheels.  Styling themes echo the larger Rogue Sport and Murano crossovers with Nissan’s V-Motion grille, squinty headlamps, floating roof, and thin wrap-around taillamps.  Artful body sculpting helps diminish the impression of the vehicle’s tall slab sides.  I wouldn’t call it beautiful, but it isn’t ugly either and definitely is memorable.

It looks better from the inside where a high seating position enables surprising legroom front and rear.  It’s a cavern dressed with a wide dashboard, intuitive touchscreen, actual knobs for volume/tuning, and automatic climate control.  Connect devices via Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android auto.  Hands-free texting and rear USB ports for charging add conveniences.  There’s a lot of hard plastic on the dash and doors, but textured metal-look patches on the dash, stitched coverings on the console, and patterned black cloth seats feel upscale without breaking the budget.

There are some other surprising touches.  The center console provides deep cupholders, rubberized cubby for phones, and push button starting.  Black piano finish adds class while a deep luggage compartment with split/fold rear seats can swallow virtually anything.  I’m also a fan of the configurable instrument cluster.  Safety is enhanced by adaptive cruise, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, rear cross path detection, and blind spot warning systems – quite an array of gear for an entry level crossover.

You can almost measure acceleration from a stop with an hourglass, but cruising is more acceptable.  Step into the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and the continuously variable transmission will eventually send 122 horsepower and 114 lb.-ft. of torque to the front wheels.  While it won’t accelerate like a bat out of anywhere, and needs a firm foot to get it to do what it can, the car does deliver a frugal 31/36-MPG city/highway.

Once up to speed, it’s actually a peaceful drive.  The CVT finds the right rev range for easy cruising on the highway or creeping through city traffic.  The suspension system is nothing fancy, independent up front with a torsion beam in the rear, but it provides the right balance of comfort and handling.  It swallows long Interstate days and city potholes with equal aplomb.  Four-wheel disc brakes feel confident.  The Kicks is never going to be an Infiniti QX55, but is pretty pleasant drive daily.  Get in and go.

My husband complained incessantly about the tall proportions, hard plastic interior, and cloth seats.  He’s spoiled and has no concept of what most people need every day.  It’s not the sportiest nor prettiest crossover rolling, but makes a strong case for itself against the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR, Chevy Trailblazer, and Hyundai Kona.  A base price of $19,990 rose to very affordable $24,040 well equipped.