2019 Nissan Kicks SV:
A long test in a new Kia Soul-fighter.
Price: $21,425 as
tested, including $545 for two-tone paint. Standard items include
blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and Sirius XM.
Motor Trend likes the ďstrong value, clever interior, kickiní
stereo,Ē but not ďno AWD, seat comfort, noisy at speed.Ē
ďOwn your moment.Ē
Reality: It takes
more than a moment to grow on you, but itís still a little
Whatís new: The
whole Kicks, front to back. The little crossover replaced the Juke
for the 2018 model year (which is the model year I tested).
Iím not a shoot-from-the-hip reviewer. I like to mull cars over
for a couple days before I start making notes.
Good thing for the
Kicks that I traveled close to 1,000 miles in this baby. Sometimes
Iím just being cranky, but after a couple days, I soften up.
Up to speed: The
Kicks features Nissanís 1.6-liter four-cylinder and makes just 122
horsepower. I thought for sure this would be a dog on the highways.
But once I got used to it, the Kicks kicked pretty well. Still, it
gets to 60 mph in lethargic 9.9 seconds, according to Motor Trend.
Shiftless: Though I
missed having any shift control with the CVT, the Kicks didnít do
badly overall. Only on one long, uphill entrance ramp to the
Pennsylvania Turnpike did I feel seriously outmatched by other
On the road: The
curves are nothing to excite drivers about when piloting this little
box, but the performance there matches such competitors as the
Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota C-Hr and Soul. The Kicksí forebrother,
the Juke, offered nicer handling.
The highway manners
of the Kicks, though, are fairly pleasant. Itís pretty harsh on
rough roads but high speeds are no problem at all.
Driverís Seat: I
drove a bare-bones model with inexpensive cloth seats and manual
seat operation. Iím happy to report they were comfortable.
Theyíre a little on the soft side, but they keep occupants in
Friends and stuff:
From the rear, 6-foot-2 Sturgis Kid 4.0 dubbed the seat comfortable
and roomy, though he was relegated to sitting directly behind his
5-foot-5, well-scrunched mom. Behind me, there would be too many
unpleasant Kicks in the rear.
Cargo space is 25.3
cubic feet behind the rear seats and 53.1 with the seats folded.
Play some tunes: Here
is the point where the Kicks and I part ways. The bare-bones stereo
just made my ears weep. (Motor Trendís SR must have had the $1,000
Premium Package, which adds Bose premium audio.)
The Kicks stereo
offers bass, treble and mid-range adjustments, and even something
called bass booster. Bass was just fine, but despite adjusting the
controls from one end to the other, it always sounded like I was
listening to my favorite songs through a telephone line.
The stereo system
also caused my iPhone songs to skip. Iíd just reloaded the phone
with new music and was sure something had gone wrong in the CD
recording, but the skips stopped as soon as I changed vehicles.
Whatís more, many
carmakers never seem to test their vehicles outside on sunny days.
Itís truly annoying to check the 7-inch touchscreen and see
nothing but glare.
Keeping warm and
cool: One knob controls fan, another temperature, and tiny, fussy
buttons control air source and other functions.
But the buttons match
the tiny, fussy display screen that reports back on the fan speed
and other information. Big distraction for the driver.
Small, fussy cruise operation buttons meant frequent decelerations,
as Mr. Driverís Seat fat-fingered the wrong switch.
Night shift: None of
the interior lights provided acceptable brightness for use while
driving at night. The map light was far too bright, while the others
were too dim.
The headlights aimed
a little low, as well.
Fuel economy: I
averaged about 29 mpg in a more highway-heavy range than the usual
Mr. Driverís Seat testing grounds. Feed the Kicks anything you
Where itís built:
How itís built:
Consumer Reports predicts its reliability to be a 3 out of 5.
In the end: Itís
not that easy to find a roomy-ish $20,000 car nowadays. The Nissan
Kicks isnít a bad deal, but itís quite slow. Upgrading the
stereo means a whole bunch more money, though.
Iíd probably shop
around for the Mazda CX-3 or Hyundai Kona as well before committing