With the prices of new vehicle climbing and old-fashioned incentives disappearing, the search for an affordable vehicle costing less than $30,000 can seem daunting.
Enter the 2022 Nissan Kicks, a subcompact crossover vehicle with seating for four — or five in a pinch — that is about half the price of the typical new vehicle sold in the U.S.
The Nissan Kicks is small, versatile and perfectly capable of performing the basic everyday functions such as commuting, running errands or going out for the evening or for the weekend. It also has ample power and the kind of features, such as a heated steering wheel and heated seats, motorists desire and find on more expensive vehicles.
The Kicks is small compared to the larger vehicles popular with American buyers today, but with Nissan “Safety Sense 360” as an option, everyone can feel like they’re getting big vehicle safety at small vehicle prices.
It is equipped with safety features, including features such as blind spot detection, forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert and rear automatic braking and high-beam assistance in a package, costing less than $25,000.
The exterior design of the 2022 Nissan Kicks is not one of the vehicles strong points. The exterior is shaped by the effort to squeeze out as much interior space as possible from a relatively small engineering package. The result? Unbalanced proportions.
The Kicks shape winds up emphasizing the vehicle’s width and height, which are never really any vehicle’s best measurement. Still Nissan’s stylists have tried to dress up the Kicks with a neatly designed grille and front fascia and grille. They also have gussied up the vehicle’s light fixtures, which are quite contemporary, as are the 17-inch wheels and the rear lift gate. Designers also painted the roof rails black. Another plus of the design of the rear liftgate is that it is relatively easy to handle, which is good because a power liftgate is not an option.
For a relatively inexpensive vehicle, the cabin of the 2022 Nissan Kicks is surprising well furnished. The seats are comfortable, the steering wheel is wrapped in leather and the center console is finished with a flourish and bright accents.
The controls in the center stack are a combination of knobs and a touch screen, while the instrument cluster includes both an analog and digital speed reading as well as a tachometer on the version I drove. The cabin is relatively spacious with ample head room and a good amount of shoulder room, considering it is built on what is essentially a subcompact platform.
In addition, the visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent and the ambience through the interior during a night drive is not distracting. In the rear, the Kicks has plenty of room under the hatch for groceries and other packages if the second-row seats are occupied.
The 2022 Nissan Kicks is powered by a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, multi-valve engine with dual overhead cams matched to a continuously variable transmission to help boost the vehicle’s overall fuel economy. The combination produces 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. The Kicks also has an integrated dynamic control module to help control the chassis. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the 2022 Nissan Kicks’ combined fuel economy at 33 miles per gallon, including 31 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.
Safety and Technology
The safety equipment on the Kicks includes driver and passenger dual stage supplemental airbags for protection in frontal crashes as well as side curtain airbag for protection in rollover crashes. The vehicle is also equipped with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and high beam assist as well as intelligent surround view monitor. It also has an 8-inch color touchscreen, satellite radio connection, Nissan Connect with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a Bose Sound system plus four USB ports.
While the CVT seems to slip a gear going up uphill, the 2022 Nissan Kicks overall delivered performance good thanks to its favorable power to weight ratio. The 1.6-liter engine delivers only 122 hp, but it weighs less than 2,700 pounds so the engine has more than enough punch. The Kicks suspension is good on varied surfaces, and it is very easy to maneuver into and out of tight parking spaces with its very small turning radius, which comes in handy in urban driving, where the vehicle seems quite at home.
2022 Nissan Kicks SR CVT specifications
|L: 169.1 inches/W: 69.3 inches/H: 63.3 inches/Wheelbase: 103.1 inches
|1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder; continuously variable transmission
|31 mpg city/36 mpg highway/33 mpg combined
|122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $22,340; As tested: $25,930 including $1,175 destination charge.
With the price of gasoline climbing past $4 per gallon, subcompact crossovers such as the Nissan Kicks become more attractive by the day. If you are willing to give up a bit on the performance side, the Kicks offers and an impressive array of safety, connectivity and convenience features in a small package that fit easily into urban and suburban spaces. The overall price tag is well within reach of a broad cross section of buyers, who are interested in spending less on transportation to lessen the impact of inflation on their personal budgets.
2022 Nissan Kicks SR CVT — Frequently Asked Questions
Will the 2022 Nissan Kicks be the replacement for the Juke?
Nissan Kicks is the replacement for the Juke. With the growing demand for subcompact SUVs, the company updated the Kicks for the 2022 model year with slight changes to the exterior and interior.
What are the performance features of the 2022 Kicks?
Every 2022 Kicks model is powered by a 122-hp 4-cylinder engine that provides adequate but far from thrilling acceleration. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) handles shifting duties and drives the front wheels; all-wheel drive is not offered.
What kind of engine does the 2022 Nissan Kicks have?
The 2022 Nissan Kicks is available in S, SV and SR trim levels. They all come with a 122-hp 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine.