In a world where the average new car price is over $36,000, it’s easy to write off small, affordable cars as cheap, flimsy, and disposable. When you regularly see utilitarian pickup trucks creeping past $70,000 and giant, 7-passenger SUVs crowding every parking lot in town, a small, well-packaged, and affordable sub-compact crossover can feel refreshing. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the 2019 Nissan Kicks but it certainly left an impression on me.
Mighty Things Can Come In Small Packages
With a base price of just $18,640, the compact Nissan Kicks replaced the polarizing Nissan Juke in 2018. While the styling definitely isn’t as unique as the Juke’s, it’s far more pleasing to my eyes, especially in some of the more colorful paint schemes that Nissan offers. In my opinion, the floating roofline look lends itself well to lighter shades. Nissan even offers a handful of two-tone paint options like the Monarch Orange and Super Black combo you see here. The chiseled front leads to some well-sculpted character lines that flow into muscular rear haunches. It’s a handsome look that makes the Kicks look more substantial overall.
Inside, black and orange cloth seats are comfortable and stylish. I wish there was a little more support but the fold-down driver’s side armrest was a nice touch. It also gave my elbow the perfect place to rest while I scrolled through menus on the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Orange stitching on the dash and steering wheel, along with silver accents, contribute to a more premium feel.
From the driver’s seat, the Kicks feels spacious and airy, even without a sunroof. While legroom is always at a premium in vehicles of this size, the Kicks’ rear seat proved comfortable even for adults. The trunk is generous as well. I didn’t have to run many errands in the Kicks but it never felt short on space.
Although the base Kicks S model only offers Bluetooth with Siri Eyes Free and a 7-inch touchscreen, the SV and SR models come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Connecting to either is a breeze and using Google Maps or Spotify is miles easier than relying on factory-installed software for the same purposes. Standard on the SV and SR trims is a 7-inch driver-information screen in the instrument cluster. It shows you everything you need to know, including RPM, music info, and safety features with a quick glance. The way the screen mimics the look of the analog speedometer is a nice touch as well.
In addition to having your music at your fingertips, the Kicks surprised me with its standard 6-speaker audio system. There was plenty of bass and higher notes sounded rich and crisp, something you don’t often hear in this segment. Nissan also worked with Bose to offer an optional 8-speaker system that includes speakers in the headrests. There is also a factory-installed trunk-mounted subwoofer available for those that really love bass.
Nissan is fairly well-known for safety at this point and I was surprised how much of that technology made its way into the Kicks. Although it’s lacking luxuries like adaptive cruise control, all trims do come standard with automatic collision braking. It was also nice to have a basic blind spot warning and the rear camera system also includes a rear cross traffic alert. If you spring for the top SR trim, Nissan’s wonderful Around View Monitor 360-degree camera comes standard as well.
Rounding The Bend
On the road, the Nissan Kicks drives like a small, economy hatchback. It feels nimble and light on its feet, although you do sit up a little higher than you would in a hatchback. Depending on the road surface, you do sometimes notice some road noise but it’s not particularly intrusive. Basically, the Kicks is a little more on the fun, sporty side of the segment. It’s not an uncomfortable ride by any means but it can also be slightly more engaging when you want it to be.
I was also impressed with the fuel economy during my time with the Kicks. Although the 1.6-liter inline-4 engine produces 122 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque, the tradeoff is a combined 33 MPG. During my time with the Kicks driving a mix of highway traffic and back roads, I managed about 36 MPG. I wasn’t exactly babying it either so I’m pretty happy with that. For those that are wondering why AWD isn’t available on the Kicks right now, it’s probably because Nissan wants you to look to the Rogue Sport instead.
It’s nice to see Nissan offering so much in a relatively affordable package. The base model is well-equipped for under $19,000 while the SV or SR trims for $20,350 and $20,970 respectively, offer a ton of convenience and safety features for the money. Those looking to spend their money wisely will also appreciate that most options are available a la carte, as well as in packages. That means you can really pick and choose which options make sense for you. Regardless, you can buy the Kicks with the knowledge that you’re getting one of the best compact crossover bargains on sale today.
All-in-all, the 2019 Nissan Kicks is a feature-rich and fun to drive compact crossover. To learn more about the Nissan Kicks, visit Morrie’s Brooklyn Park Nissan.