At a time when other manufacturers are narrowing their focus, Nissan offers one of the most diverse line-ups in the North America, ranging from subcompact cars to full-size trucks so the 2021 Nissan Kicks fits in easily.
The Kicks is compact and stylish. It’s easy to maneuver and park in a crowded urban or suburban neighborhood but offers enough room for people and their gear. The ute also features an impressive amount of technology in a vehicle that is easily one of the most affordable new cars available to American motorists today.
It is small, distinctive and because of its size, it is easier to drive than larger and heavier utility vehicles. Bigger vehicles may have more space than the Kicks but the economic case underlying the purchase of 2021 Kicks is quite compelling when you get right down to it.
The shape of the 2021 Nissan Kicks is distinctive, as its unique silhouette separates it from other vehicles in the subcompact class, giving it character all its own. The slanted rear cargo area, which includes, the rear liftgate, plus the black roof rails, enhance the overall appearance of the Nissan Kicks and serve to reinforce the vehicle’s unique look.
The front fascia, including the V-shaped dark chrome grille, only adds to the overall appearance of the vehicle, which, while it isn’t exactly formidable, seems to signal that it could go anywhere on crowded street quickly with a modicum of style and comfort.
Nissan makes good use of the space available inside the cabin. The interior is also nicely furnished with a pleasant mixture of materials and textures. The leather-wrapped steering wheel and careful stitching on the instrument panel help elevate the cabin beyond the cheap stuff that was rather typical of subcompacts in years past.
Moreover, while the interior is not exactly soundproof, the entertainment system is also first rate and easy to hear even when it is not cranked up. The seat is comfortable even if you are behind the wheel for any length of time and the heating system is quite efficient.
The visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent and the seat space in the second row is surprisingly comfortable given the vehicles stubby wheelbase. Like a lot of Americans, I sometimes wind up eating lunch in the car and the Kicks interior was certainly spacious enough to serve as a mobile dining room.
The 2021 Nissan Kicks SR is equipped with a 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine with dual overhead cams and 16 valves or four valves per cylinder, which is matched up with a Xtronic CVT or continuously variable shift transmission. The combination is very efficient, producing 36 miles per gallon on the highway and 31 mpg in city for a combined rating of 33 mpg from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Kicks’ powertrain produces 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque, which might seem underpowered by today’s prevailing standard. However, Kicks’ curb weight is just 2,744 pounds, which means the vehicle sports a rather good power-to-weight ratio.
Safety and Technology
Nissan equipped the 2021 Nissan Kicks with LED high- and low-beam headlamps, LED fog lamps and daytime running lights. It also equipped it with the Nissan 360 Safety Shield, which includes automatic braking, rear braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning and high-beam assist. It also features multiple airbags to protect against front- and side-impact collisions.
Also available is NissanConnect Services with Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hot spot and surround view rear camera. The vehicle I drove also was equipped with a Bose sound system.
The key to the 2021 Nissan Kicks driving characteristics is its maneuverability. Its turning radius is small and the electric power steering makes it easy to handle while the electronic stability control keeps all four corners of the vehicle planted.
At first, I thought the Kicks might be underpowered, and while I am generally no fan of the CVT transmission, the electronic controls used in this one help to make the shifts feel natural and well timed. The front-wheel-drive layout and suspension system are tried-and-true and work well in Kicks. This helps the vehicle weather a variety of road surfaces and give the vehicle a nice feel out on the highway.
Just as large vehicles are not always practical for motorists, neither are small ones. But small vehicles are practical to park and maneuver and generally have more than enough space for one or two people and they are economical to operate and to insure. But they have their limitations in terms of power and carrying capacity.
Nonetheless, the top-of-the-line Nissan Kicks SR, which is the top of line model, starts at $21,940, making it one of the most affordable vehicles on sales at a local dealership now, making it attractive to a growing segment of the car-buying public.