2021 Nissan Kicks first drive evaluate: Extra to your cash

The Nissan Kicks is a cheap car, nevertheless it’s not low-cost. Up to date for 2021, this likable subcompact crossover gives a great deal of high-end options and loads of inside area, all at a bargain-basement worth. 

This refreshed five-door advantages from extra normal know-how, some minor inside adjustments and, maybe most importantly, enhanced exterior styling. New wheel designs are provided, plus SV and SR trims acquire rear disc brakes. At each ends, the Kicks’ bumpers are reworked and there is a new, rather more rugged-looking grille that dispenses with the outgoing mannequin’s cheeky cuteness. This car’s new face is far hardier than earlier than, extra in step with the remainder of Nissan’s utility-vehicle lineup. Prime-shelf SR fashions additionally include high-tech trying multireflector LED headlights.

Protecting issues attention-grabbing, seven exterior paint colours are provided, together with three new hues. The Kicks can be obtainable with 5 two-tone combos, together with Electrical Blue with a Tremendous Black roof, which is what you see right here. It is a sharp-looking colour scheme and I applaud Nissan for providing two-tone paintjobs on its autos.

This crossover’s inside is a no-nonsense affair, with an easy dashboard format. The local weather controls really feel good and are easy to function, plus each the entrance and rear seats are supportive and comfortably elevated so it does not really feel such as you’re plopped on the ground. Sure, there’s a variety of laborious plastic within the Kicks, however none of it’s gross-looking or fragile. Its fuzzy headliner is about the one inside part that is tacky.

Gussying issues up, the non-compulsory Premium Package deal contains enticing vinyl seating surfaces. Not solely do they really feel good, they appear good, too, accentuated with contrast-color stitching. Apart from that, this package deal additionally brings a heated steering wheel and heated entrance seats to the desk, in addition to an upscale Bose sound system with eight audio system, together with some within the driver’s seat headrest. It is a strong providing and I really like these headrest-mounted sound emitters. They actually assist present an immersive listening expertise.

Regardless of its affordability, the Kicks’ inside is sturdy, cheerful and spacious.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Up entrance, somewhat extra space for storing could be good as the middle console is kind of small, however there’s a shocking quantity of cargo room with the rear backrests up. Fold them down and also you get a hell of much more junk-hauling area even when the load ground is way from flat.

Regardless of its small dimensions and reasonably priced worth, this Nissan comes normal with every kind of helpful know-how together with rear automated braking, lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring. Automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert and even automated excessive beams are included at no further price as effectively. Useful satellite tv for pc audio controls on the steering wheel and even Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are baked proper into each single variant.

Past that normal tools, my top-trim SR take a look at mannequin is fitted with some premium options, like categorical up and down entrance home windows, keyless entry with push-button begin, automated brake maintain and adaptive cruise management. (Sadly, Nissan’s glorious ProPilot Help adaptive cruise with lane centering will not be provided.) It even has an amazing 360-degree digicam system that is higher than what you get in lots of much-more-expensive Toyotas as of late, and it has one roof-mounted seize deal with at every outboard seating place. This final merchandise could not sound necessary, nevertheless it’s a pleasant contact, particularly in a low-cost car.

It isn’t very potent, however no less than this 1.6-liter engine is environment friendly.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

As for speeds and feeds, the Base S mannequin comes with a 7-inch touchscreen show, however the SV and SR variants characteristic a barely extra expansive 8-incher. This panel is residence to an infotainment system that is merely sufficient. Visually, it appears fairly outdated, nevertheless it will get the job carried out, plus, if you are going to use CarPlay or Android Auto, it does not actually matter. Simply plug your telephone into one of many three normal USB type-A ports (a type-C outlet is obtainable in SV and SR fashions) and do not look again. SV and SR fashions additionally include a helpful driver-information middle within the instrument cluster. With a 7-inch display, it is simple to learn and kid’s play to reconfigure. The obtainable Premium Package deal talked about earlier additionally provides just a few high-tech goodies, together with over-the-air updates for the pinnacle unit and an in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot.

Nestled behind the Kicks’ more-aggressive grille is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. With such small displacement and no pressured induction, it’s, not surprisingly, fairly anemic. Horsepower measures 122 whereas torque clocks in at simply 114 pound-feet, most likely about as a lot as you get in low gear on a Huffy bike. As earlier than, a repeatedly variable transmission sends these items completely to the entrance tires since all-wheel drive will not be provided.

Comparatively clean and quiet, this engine is nonetheless overmatched. Sure, it will get the job carried out, that CVT maximizing its meager output, however by no means does it make the Kicks really feel agile or responsive. Merging and passing maneuvers have to be deliberate effectively upfront — or prevented altogether — as there’s treasured little efficiency in reserve. However hey, what this scrappy crossover lacks in outright giddy-up is greater than made up for in effectivity. The Kicks ought to return 31 miles per gallon within the metropolis and 36 mpg on freeway drives. Count on 33 mpg mixed, a determine I had no bother matching in real-world testing.

This Nissan’s journey high quality in all fairness refined, although do not anticipate it to soak up and digest bumps like a Rolls-Royce. Influence harshness is low and the suspension irons out a lot of the street’s grittiness, although the journey could be a little bit uneven at instances, seemingly due to the quick, 103.1-inch wheelbase. 

You would do so much worse than the Nissan Kicks… like shopping for a Ford EcoSport, for example. 

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Toss the Kicks right into a nook and it responds with a bit extra physique roll than I am used to as of late. It isn’t horrifying, nevertheless it does sometimes really feel tippy. Sadly, the steering is simply too gentle and completely synthesized.

However the refreshed Kicks is as soon as once more an amazing worth. The bottom S mannequin begins at $20,595, together with $1,095 in supply charges. That is a rise of simply 430 bucks in comparison with an analogous 2020 model. Full pricing will likely be introduced nearer to its on-sale date, which is predicted to be in February, although even a loaded-up SR variant ought to be extraordinarily reasonably priced, seemingly topping out within the mid-20s.

Whereas removed from a driver’s car, the Nissan Kicks nonetheless impresses because of its beneficiant normal tools, obtainable tech and usually nice inside. For those who’re searching for a subcompact crossover just like the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR or Chevy Trax, take a look at the Kicks, it’d simply shock you.

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