• Floating roof design
  • Optional LED headlights
  • Available 17-inch wheels higher in trim line
  • Strut front suspension, twist-beam rear suspension
  • Available front seat heating
  • Flat rear-floor design for enhanced practicality
  • Available leather for the steering wheel and shift knob
  • Flat-bottom steering wheel
  • Nice selection of safety technology features
  • NA 1.6-liter four-cylinder is only engine option
  • More subdued styling versus the Juke

Nissan expands is CUV offerings with the new subcompact Kicks

The Kicks is Nissan’s smallest crossover offering in the United States, and it’s widely based on the 2014 Nissan Kicks Concept that debuted back in 2014 at the Sao Paulo International Auto Show. In essence, the new Kicks CUV is quite similar to the concept, and most of the design cues carry over. As always, the overall design has been toned down a bit because, well, the production models are never as good as the concepts. Major features include a floating roof with a “wrap-around visor,” a comprehensive infotainment system, and best-in-class rear passenger space.

Keno Kato, the Vice President of Product Planning for Nissan, said, “With Kicks, we have developed a compact crossover in the best Nissan tradition, and thanks to the unmatched experience we have in creating vehicles to meet the needs of car-buyers around the world, Kicks will offer best-in-class design, convenience, and technological innovation. And, it will demonstrate Nissan’s commitment to Nissan Intelligent Mobility. Kicks is a car to confidently take on the city.”

The Kicks replaced the Juke in the United States, but it’s not available in Europe as of 2019. Let’s find out more about this crossover in the review below.

Exterior

  • Borrows heavily from the concept
  • Modern design
  • V-motion grile
  • Boomerang-style headlamps
  • Muscular profile
  • Two-tone paint option
  • Boomerang taillights
  • Sporty rear bumper
left right
On the outside, the Kicks is pretty similar to the Kicks Concept.

In fact, the official debut model is even covered in the same greyish-silver paint, plus burnt-orange-like finish on the “floating” roof. Of course, it also has Nissan’s V-motion grille (because it wouldn’t be a Nissan without it), and it has boomerang-styled headlights up front. As you can see, those headlights are recessed into the fascia and sit just below the hood. The inner point slants upward to kiss the upper point of the grille. The hood itself is relatively smooth, with a small ridge just before the hood drops at the waistline on each side. Down below, fog lights are integrated into the corners of the fascia, and the air dam sits just above a dominate bottom lip that runs between the two corner cutouts.

2019 Nissan Kicks High Resolution Exterior
- image 674575
As you can see, the burnt-orange finish on the roof wraps around to the sides to create the “wrap-around visor” effect on the top of the doors.

Moving over to the sides, the rearmost point of the headlight lens transitions into a powerful body line that curves downward, terminating just past the front-most door seam to create a dominate front wheel arch. Another body line runs along the center plane of the door handles and transitions into the front-most corner of the wrap-around taillights. Toward the bottom of the vehicle, another body line runs from door-to-door, slanting upward as it gets closer to the rear. The body cladding on the doors have a light gray insert to give the side more character. It should also be noted that the black cladding that starts at the front of the front wheel arch extends over the arch and across the bottom to wrap around the rear wheel arch. As you can see, the burnt-orange finish on the roof wraps around to the sides to create the “wrap-around visor” effect on the top of the doors.

2019 Nissan Kicks
- image 838692
The hatch itself is almost hourglass-shaped, with a profile that slumps inward around the taillights

To the rear, the design gets even more interesting. The rear hatch has a short overhang that is painted in the same finish as the roof. A black coloration travels from the rear-most edge of the rear doors and across the rear quarter, transitioning into the black tint that surrounds the hatch window. The taillights are also of the “boomerang” style, which is frankly a very odd design that features a wide reverse light at the bottom of the lens. The hatch itself is almost hourglass-shaped, with a profile that slumps inward around the taillights and gets wider toward the bottom. The black cladding from the sides continues around back and covers the entire rear fascia. There is another light-grey insert that runs the width of the rear fascia, with rectangular reflectors mounted below it. All told, it’s a fresh and unique design, as well as a worthy successor to the Juke in the looks department.

left right
But how big is the Kicks compared to the Juke? At 169.1 inches long, the Kicks is a significant 6.7 inches longer.

On the other hand, the Kicks is a half-inch narrower, so it has a different overall stance too. The Kicks is higher too, but only by 1.8 inches, standing at 63 inches tall. Because it’s longer overall, the Kicks also has a longer wheelbase. It measure 103 inches, which accounts for an extra 3.4 inches compared to the Juke.

2019 Nissan Kicks exterior dimensions
Wheelbase 103.1
Overall length 169.1
Overall width 69.3
Overall height 62.4
Track width Front / rear 59.8 / 60.4

Interior

  • Gliding Wing dashboard
  • Organic design overall
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • Seven-inch touchscreen
  • Two-tone upholstery option
  • Most plastic look cheap
  • Comfortable seats
  • Trunk larger than the competition
2019 Nissan Kicks High Resolution Interior
- image 674578
Inside, the Kicks is even more interesting.

It has what Nissan calls the “Gliding Wing” dashboard, which basically means the rim that curves around the top of the dash transitions perfectly into a styling line on each door’s trim. From an inside perspective, it almost gives the feeling that you’re sitting inside a bubble. The corner HVAC vents are round and come integrated with the dash, creating a hump on the dashboard’s surface. There is also another elevated area of the dash with the instrument cluster and center HVAC vents sitting below.

2019 Nissan Kicks High Resolution Interior
- image 674576
The interior has a two-tone color scheme, with light brown used for the seats, the front face of the dash, and the insert that surrounds the pull handle on the door trims

The instrument cluster itself is something I like to call a hybrid unit. It has a traditional analog needle gauge for the speedometer, but to the left of that, there’s a rectangular digital display that serves as a driver’s information center for stuff like fuel level and engine temperature. As you can see in the interior images, the instrument cluster is displaying the selected transmission gear in the middle and the fuel gauge to the left, with a temperature gauge just below it. The three-spoke steering wheel adds a bit of sportiness to the cabin with its flat-bottom design. Inside the center, stack sits an infotainment system with a seven-inch touchscreen. The system features physical buttons and a knob on each side of the display. In all honesty, it looks similar to some Chinese brands of aftermarket displays available on popular auction sites.

2019 Nissan Kicks
- image 838681
The rear portion of the center console sits below the seats and features dual cup holders

The interior has a two-tone color scheme, with light brown used for the seats, the front face of the dash, and the insert that surrounds the pull handle on the door trims. The carpeting looks like felt, with a sculpted look and tight lights up front. The rear portion of the center console sits below the seats and features dual cup holders, a small storage cavity, and the hand brake. Farther up, the center console elevates to house the gear shifter and another storage pocket. The HVAC controls are positioned between the center stack and the center console and looks like a futuristic representation of the old-school, dual-knob radios of the past. The same color scheme is carried over in the rear seating area. It looks like the rear seats feature a 60-40 split, but there is also a rear deck behind the seats, which seems rather odd, given the CUV nature of the vehicle.

2019 Nissan Kicks interior dimensions
Front 2nd row
Head room 40.7 38.5
Leg room 43.7 33.2
Hip room 50.9 49.1
Shoulder room 53.0 53.2

All told, I would normally talk smack about how cheap some of the interior looks, despite the decent fit and finish, but this model will be sitting pretty low in Nissan’s SUV/CUV lineup. Taking that into consideration, the interior is decent for where this model will sit in the lineup.

2019 Nissan Kicks Interior
- image 750832
Storage room behind the second-row seats is rated at 25.3 cubic feet

When it comes to trunk space, the Nissan Kicks has plenty to offer. Storage room behind the second-row seats is rated at 25.3 cubic feet. That’s significantly more than most big sedans and also notably more than the competition. The Chevy Trax, for instance, offers 18.7 cubic feet. The Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 offer less than at 15.8 and 12.3 cubic feet, respectively.

Fold the rear seats down, and cargo room increases to 53.1 cubic feet. Again, this is notably more than the competition. The Honda HR-V offers only 36.2 cubic feet, while the Mazda CX-3 is rated at 42.2 cubic feet. The Chevrolet Trax comes a bit closer with 48.4 cubic feet, but the Nissan Kicks wins by a notable margin.

Drivetrain

  • 1.6-liter four-cylinder
  • 122 horsepower
  • 114 pound-feet of torque
  • CVT transmission
  • Less powerful than rivals
  • Good fuel economy
  • 36 mpg highway
  • 31 mpg city
2019 Nissan Kicks Exterior
- image 750821
Available 17-inch wheels higher in trim line
The 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine generates 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque

The Nissan Kicks features just one engine in the United States. It’s a naturally aspirated, 1.6-liter four-cylinder mill that’s shared with a wide range of Nissans, including the Qashqai, Juke, Note, and Micra. The unit generates 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque, routed to the front wheels through a CVT (continuously variable transmission).

2019 Nissan Kicks drivetrain specifications
Engine  
Name HR16DE
Cam design DOHC
Orientation Transverse
Cylinders / configuration 4-cylinder / inline
Block / head composition Aluminum / aluminum
Displacement (liters) 1.6 (1,598 cc)
Horsepower 125 @ 5,800 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 115 @ 4,000 rpm
Bore & stroke (mm) 78.0 x 83.6
Compression ratio (:1) 9.8
Spark plugs Platinum-tipped
Maximum engine speed 6,500 rpm

Needless to say, the Kicks isn’t very powerful, especially when compared to the Juke. The latter also had a 1.6-liter four-banger, but it was turbocharged and delivered 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet. All told, the Kicks was downgraded by a significant 66 horsepower and 63 pound-feet. Ouch!

2019 Nissan Kicks
- image 838691
Nissan Kicks vs. Nissan Juke
Nissan Kicks Nissan Juke
Name HR16DE MR16DDT
Cam design DOHC DOHC
Orientation Transverse Transverse
Cylinders / configuration 4-cylinder / inline 4-cylinder / inline
Block / head composition Aluminum / aluminum Aluminum / aluminum
Displacement (liters) 1.6 (1,598 cc) 1.6 liters / 1,618 cc
Horsepower 125 @ 5,800 rpm 188 hp @ 5,600 RPM
Torque (lb-ft) 115 @ 4,000 rpm 177 lb-ft torque @ 1,600 -5,200RPM
Bore & stroke (mm) 78.0 x 83.6 79.7 x 81.1
Compression ratio (:1) 9.8 10.5:1
The Kicks can return up to 36 mpg on the highway

The Kicks is underpowered when compared to the Honda HR-V as well. Its Japanese rival features a 1.8-liter engine rated at 138 horsepower and 127 pound-feet, so the Kicks falls behind by 16 horses and 13 pound-feet. It’s not a colossal difference though. Things turn bad when compared to the Mazda CX-3, which benefits from an extra 24 horsepower and 32 pound-feet with a total rating of 146 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of twist. The Kicks also loses the battle against the Chevy Trax, which comes with a 1.4-liter four-pot that generates 138 horses and 148 pound-feet. That’s an extra 16 horsepower and 34 pound-feet.

2019 Nissan Kicks
- image 838693

There’s is some good news when it comes to the Kicks’ underpowered drivetrain. It can return up to 36 mpg on the highway. That’s two mpg more than the Trax. It also wins the city economy battle with up to 31 mpg, five more than the Chevy.

Prices

The Nissan Kicks starts from $18,640, for which you get the entry-level S trim. Upgrade to the SV version and the sticker jumps to $20,350, while the range-topping SR comes in at $20,970 before options.

Competition

Honda HR-V

2016 - 2017 Honda HR-V High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 549958

The Honda HR-V actually started life as the Honda Vezzel in the Japanese market and has the same underpinnings as the Honda Fit. The HR-V is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that develops 138 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. It’s available with a CVT transmission in AWD form, but in two-wheel-drive form, a six-speed manual is available. As of this writing, the HR-V is available in five different trims – LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Touring. The LX and Sport trims start at $20,520 and $22,220, respectively. The EX comes in at $23,720, while the EX-L fetches $25,320. Finally, the range-topping Touring model starts from $28,540.

Read our full review on the 2018 Honda HR-V here.

Mazda CX-3

2019 Mazda CX-3
- image 793761

The CX-3 was introduced for the 2016 model year and was designed to slot below the CX-5 as Mazda’s subcompact SUV. The CX-3 is offered in three different trims, all of which come with the same engine – a 2.0-liter, Skyactiv-G four-cylinder that delivers 146 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. The lowest trim is the CX-3 Sport, which includes 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a rearview camera, and the Mazda Connect infotainment system for $20,390. The CX-3 Touring includes rear cross-traffic alert, leatherette-trimmed sport seats with red stitching, and advanced blind spot monitoring. Pricing is $22,475 before options. The range-topping trim is the Grand Touring, which includes 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, automatic climate control, and leather-trimmed seats. It starts at $25,745 before options, taxes, and delivery.

Read our full review on the 2019 Mazda CX-3.

Chevrolet Trax

2017 Chevrolet Trax High Resolution Exterior
- image 664928

The Chevy Trax was a new offering in the U.S. for the 2015 model year, but it went through a facelift for the 2017 model year, bringing it up to speed with the rest of the subcompacts in the segment. The Trax has a reasonably sporty exterior and upscale interior that should help it against models like the CX-3, HR-V, and Nissan Kicks. Under the hood lurks a shoddy little 1.4-liter, four-cylinder that delivers a miserable 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. One could very easily argue that the Trax is underpowered, but it does pull 26 mpg in the city and upward of 34 mpg on the highway, so at least it has that going for it. Just don’t expect to tow much more than a dirty teenager on a skateboard. The Trax starts from $20,045 in base LS trim, while the LT version comes in at $21,945. The range-topping Premier model will set you back $26,345.

Read our full review on the 2019 Chevrolet Trax.

Conclusion

2019 Nissan Kicks
- image 838692

What can I really say here? With the SUV craze still in full force, those who can’t afford the larger gas hogs are definitely going for the smaller ones. So, with that in mind, it makes sense Nissan would expand its offerings with another subcompact SUV. Overall, the model does have a reasonably sporty appearance outside, and despite the lackluster materials inside, they do have a good fit and finish, so you can’t really complain about that. Looking at the pictures, though, I can almost smell the cheap plastic. Aside from the materials, the cabin itself is somewhat pleasing to look at. The first thing I would do is swap out the cheap-looking infotainment screen for a more upscale aftermarket unit, but considering this model starts out well below the $20,000 threshold, you can’t really hate on Nissan for the little things. All told, it should be a pretty successful model assuming interest isn’t lost to other models like the Rogue.

  • Leave it
    • Not very powerful
    • Some of the interior materials look cheap

Further reading

2014 Nissan Kicks Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 574663

Read our full review on the 2014 Nissan Kicks Concept.

Nissan Juke

2011 Nissan Juke High Resolution Exterior
- image 347080

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Juke.

Press Release

Nissan’s global leadership in the crossover segment will be further strengthened by the arrival of the all-new Nissan Kicks.

2019 Nissan Kicks High Resolution Exterior
- image 674570

The production Nissan Kicks retains the basic design cues taken from the Kicks Concept – first shown at the Sao Paulo Motor Show in 2014 – and is a stylish crossover built for busy city-dwellers to tackle everything the city can throw at it.

To meet initial Brazilian demand, Kicks will be produced at Nissan’s benchmark plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Ramp-up to full production will start within FY16 at the Nissan facility in Resende, Rio de Janeiro – the site of a $192 million (R$750 million) investment to prepare for Kicks.

Kicks features established design signatures, such as Nissan’s V-motion grille, boomerang head and taillights, and the floating roof with a “wrap-around visor” look to the windscreen and side glass.

During the engineering process, much attention was paid to the car’s overall aerodynamic performance – not only to benefit its dynamic performance, but also its overall refinement by reducing wind noise.

Inside, the story is one of quality and futuristic design in a cabin full of innovative features expected by a target audience who are technology hungry. The interior promises best in class passenger space in the rear – despite the coupé-like roofline – as well as one of the largest load areas in its class.

2019 Nissan Kicks High Resolution Exterior
- image 674571

Front seat occupants face the latest version of Nissan’s modern and simple Gliding Wing dashboard design, which is dominated by a centrally mounted seven-inch full color display housing a comprehensive infotainment system with Smartphone connectivity.

Among the other technology on-board, Kicks will feature Around View Monitor and Moving Object Detection, which use four on-board cameras to present a view of the car and to warn the driver of any unseen hazards. This is a segment first in the region and, taken together, offers a step on the road to Nissan Intelligent Mobility.

A sporting flavor is provided by the flat-bottom steering wheel, while the crossover stance provides a high eye point to give the driver an empowering viewpoint of the road ahead.

“With Kicks, we have developed a compact crossover in the best Nissan tradition, and thanks to the unmatched experience, we have in creating vehicles to meet the needs of car-buyers around the world,” said Keno Kato, corporate vice president, Product Planning, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. “Kicks will offer best-in-class design, convenience and technological innovation. And, it will demonstrate Nissan’s commitment to Nissan Intelligent Mobility. Kicks is a car to confidently take on the city.”

Nissan Kicks sales will begin first in Brazil in August, followed by Latin American left-hand drive markets later in fiscal year 2016. And ultimately, it will be introduced in more than 80 global markets.

2019 Nissan Kicks High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 674572

Full details of Kicks prices, specifications and equipment will be released closer to its on-sale date.

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