The Nissan Kicks is one among Nissan’s higher concepts of the previous few years. It’s a light-weight, super-spacious and environment friendly crossover that’s priced to fly off tons. Nissan’s 2021 refresh addresses a number of of our greatest quibbles, and it doesn’t mess up what Nissan did proper earlier than.
Of all of the modifications, just one appears to be like able to inflicting slight angst: the brand new grille. It’s massive. And somewhat indignant. Nissan is looking it the “Double V-motion” grille as a result of it’s apparently too giant for simply the only, conventional V. A greater title could be the U-motion grille as a result of, nicely, take a look at it. The brand new grille’s purpose for being? Nissan wished to make the Kicks look extra rugged and powerful like an SUV. Truthful sufficient purpose, however the Kicks nonetheless appears to be like like a tall hatchback. In addition to the grille, Nissan sharpened up the headlights (LEDs are optionally available now), swapped to vertically-oriented facet intakes and launched a brand new wheel design. The taillights are related by way of a brand new red-tinted shiny black trim piece, and the floating roof stays. It’s nonetheless a classy and spunky car, even when it’s far much less quirky than the Juke it changed.
The best updates are discovered inside. Nissan took the economic system car vibe one step too far when it didn’t embrace a correct middle armrest for the Kicks in 2018 — you have been caught with a small, semi-uncomfortable fold-down armrest connected to the motive force’s seat, and the passenger acquired nothing. That’s mounted this 12 months with a full-size middle armrest that’s usable for each entrance seat passengers. This, together with the change from a bodily parking brake to an digital one, compelled Nissan to design a brand new middle console that pushed the cupholders up nearer to the gear lever. It’s simpler to succeed in for a drink now, as they have been shoved again subsequent to and behind the seat belt buckles earlier than.
Among the interior seating and trim supplies are unsurprisingly low-rent within the budget-priced Kicks, however Nissan no less than improved issues for 2021. The spotlight is the SR’s new three-tone seat design, however even our SV tester’s black fabric had an attention grabbing sample. A lot of the door remains to be coated in scratchy arduous plastic, however the vital bits (just like the door armrest) are coated in padded fabric or soft-touch plastic. The tip product isn’t particularly fairly, however high quality and consolation are there the place you want it.
Tech-hungry Kicks patrons might be comfortable to see the brand new standard infotainment system (on the bottom S trim) is the 7.0-inch touchscreen that runs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Beforehand, you wanted to improve to the SV or SR trims to get these smartphone app connection capabilities. A brand new 8.0-inch show arrives for the brand new 12 months that serves because the improve for the SV and SR. These trims additionally get a USB-C port (as an alternative of all USB-A) and will be geared up with NissanConnect Companies that provides you an in-car WiFi hotspot, amongst different features. The identical, highly effective Bose audio system with audio system within the driver headrest that we beloved a lot earlier than continues to be an possibility, too.
A 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine remains to be underneath the hood, nonetheless powers the entrance wheels solely and remains to be woefully underpowered at simply 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. That stated, the Kicks’ responsive throttle and low curb weight (2,682-pound base, 2,744 kilos in SR trim) means it isn’t as unhealthy because the specs counsel. The engine is paired to a CVT, so it’s predictably buzzy and annoying if you mat the throttle. Getting as much as freeway speeds would require some endurance, however it’s not dangerously sluggish by any means. You simply must need it. It’s lots fast for popping round city and maintaining with site visitors; the revs keep low sufficient that it isn’t a trouble. Gasoline economic system is the massive draw with this energy unit. Nissan predicts 31 mpg metropolis, 36 mpg freeway and 33 mpg mixed ratings, that are equivalent to final 12 months’s car. These numbers beat out each competitor, even extra-tiny ones just like the Hyundai Venue. You’ll want a hybrid just like the Kia Niro to high it.
The one, massive mechanical change Nissan did make for 2021 is the introduction of rear disc brakes to SV and SR grades. Nissan saved the rear drums for the bottom S, which suggests it doesn’t benefit from the electric parking brake. Each SV and SR achieve an auto maintain operate (retains the car in place with out holding the brake pedal down), which metropolis dwellers will recognize. We will’t inform a lot of a distinction in brake pedal really feel with the brand new disc brakes, however the drums have been completely serviceable earlier than anyway.
There’s no change in how the Kicks handles or comports itself on the street. It’s impressively gentle on its ft (thank the curb weight), however vehicles just like the Mazda CX-3 or Kia Soul are nonetheless higher handlers. The steering is rubbery and doesn’t weight up all that naturally in corners. You’re left with a car that’s merely common on a winding street, however its gentle tuning does repay on rougher pavement. The Kicks’ brief wheelbase is ever current on freeway enlargement joints and frost heaves, but it’s by no means jarringly harsh. Its suspension tuning appears best fitted to tough metropolis streets the place it’s surprisingly compliant and comfortable. Poor pavement is shrugged off nicely for such a small car, and that’s accurately contemplating how most might be utilizing their Kicks.
These with freeway commutes will benefit from the newly added adaptive cruise management that’s standard on SV and SR. Whereas we’d’ve appreciated the full Nissan ProPilot Help system (that provides spectacular lane-centering and GPS-powered auto route/velocity changes), the Kicks’ adaptive cruise is well-tuned and dialed in for easy operation. A lot of different safety programs proceed to be standard as nicely: auto emergency braking w/pedestrian detection, rear auto braking, blind-spot warning, rear cross site visitors alert, lane departure warning (with a greater steering wheel vibration warning than earlier than) and auto excessive beams. The Kicks additionally contains entrance knee airbags and rear facet airbags, the latter of that are uncommon in any car.
Backseat area and cargo room proceed to be large pluses within the Kicks’ toolbox. The rear seat is large for such a small crossover, permitting for simple ingress and egress, together with loads of legroom and headroom for taller people. There’s even a pair of USB ports. Add an enormous hatch with a super-low load ground, and the Kicks additional overshoots its footprint with surprisingly helpful cargo area.
Value continues to be the No. 1 purpose to select up a Kicks. Nissan introduced a base price of $20,595 for the up to date mannequin, which is simply $430 greater than the 2020 mannequin. Pricing for the SV and SR trims is but to be introduced, however the SR began at a super-affordable $22,415 final 12 months. Assuming the price will increase are inside purpose, the Kicks will proceed to be one of many best value performs on this section.
Dearer choices just like the Kia Soul or Hyundai Kona are worthwhile for what you recover from the Kicks (higher powertrain, dealing with, interior high quality), however Nissan is extraordinarily aggressive on the backside finish of this market. There’s additionally the difficulty of the Kicks being front-drive solely. Nissan will let you know to snag a Rogue Sport if you’d like all-wheel drive, however the Rogue Sport is considerably costlier. Shopping for some winter rubber ought to alleviate most (if not all) traction points you would possibly expertise within the Kicks, although. Backside line, the Kicks was and nonetheless is an efficient crossover for the cash. It prioritizes the precise issues for somebody on a good finances, and the brand new features are all welcome enhancements that can genuinely enhance life behind the wheel.
Nissan Kicks Info
– 2021 Nissan Kicks First Drive | Adding value and attitude –
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