The 2018 Nissan Kicks sub-compact crossover has a powertrain consisting of a 1.6-liter inline-4 engine producing 125 hp and 115 lb-ft of torque. That is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and feeds power to the front wheels. There is no option for an all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. We took the SR trim of the auto to test its performance, and we found out that despite the light weight of the Kicks, the engine provided adequate acceleration but still felt slower than its rivals. It took ten seconds to reach 60 mph, while most of its rivals were quicker with their turbocharged power plants. The CVT did not exhibit the droning sound that tends to be more common in CVTs at the lower price bracket. Its weight, or lack thereof, was favorable in maneuvering around with ease. Designed mostly to be used in urban areas, it turned immediately while still being balanced. The effort required to steer was light while still being engaged with the pavement. The brakes performed well in urban settings and there was no noticeable loss in the stopping force. The bite from the brakes was linear and the nose did not lurch forward during sudden braking. With a pedal that is firm enough, controlling the brakes did not require much effort.
The base S trim comes standard with automatic headlights, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free integration, three USB ports and an infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen and a six-speaker sound system. Advanced safety and driver aids are already available for the base trim. The SV trim builds on the previous by including keyless entry and ignition, remote start, a driver information display, automatic climate control with rear heater ducts, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and satellite radio. The top-of-the-line SR trim adds LED headlights and foglights, heated mirrors, and additional advanced safety and driver aids.
The 2018 Kicks is a brand new model for Nissan that is currently in its first year of production. There are no official safety ratings yet for the crossover from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The base trim comes standard with advanced safety and driver aids such as hill start assist, cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic braking, and a rearview camera. Additional features are added in higher trim levels and they are rear cross-traffic alert and a 360-degree camera.
The 2018 Kicks has a length of 169.1 inches, a width of 69.3 inches, a height of 62.4 inches and a wheelbase of 103.1 inches. The Kicks is a new model for Nissan and is marketed for urban drivers, hence its footprint is more similar to a compact sedan but with added utility. The design remains cohesive with the rest of Nissan’s SUV lineup, with its inverted trapezoid grille, aggressive headlights, and sculpted fenders. The base trim comes standard with 16-inch wheels while the succeeding trim levels have 17-inch wheels. Roof rails come standard with the base trim but a sunroof is not available for the Kicks.
Entering the cabin of the SUV was effortless because of its low ground clearance. The doors opened wide and revealed openings that were easy to access. The first and second rows were spacious enough, but passengers beyond six feet tall may feel cramped inside. Up to five people can be accommodated inside the cabin, but it may vary depending on the size of the passenger. The seats were comfortable enough during long drives and the faux leather did not feel stiff at all. The adjustability for the driver seat allowed most body types to fit in the seat. The ride quality was a good balance of firm and compliant. It didn’t feel floaty and disengaged when cruising over smooth pavement. Bumps were still felt but it wasn’t harsh and unsettling. Wind noise was slightly louder compared to its competition but the overall interior ambiance was relaxed.
There is 25.3 cu-ft of space behind the second row of seats, and folding those seats down opens up 39.3 cu-ft of space available for cargo.