With its vibrant personality and attractive price, the Kicks is a subcompact-crossover SUV that deserves attention. While we wish it were available with AWD, this Nissan is a standout value, even when compared against rivals such as the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona and Chevrolet Trax.
You'll Like The 2019 Nissan Kicks If...
If you’re looking for a crossover SUV priced around $20,000, the Kicks deserves a look. It’s stylish, efficient and practical, plus it boasts plenty of personality and comes standard with automatic emergency braking.
You May Not Like The 2019 Nissan Kicks If...
If you want all-wheel drive, you’ll need to look elsewhere, perhaps to the Nissan Rogue Sport, Hyundai Kona or Honda HR-V. Those small-crossover SUVs also are more powerful and fun to drive.
Because the Nissan Kicks was an all-new vehicle in 2018, little has changed with the 2019 model. It’s still powered by an efficient 1.6-liter engine with 122 horsepower, but the all-wheel-drive option that we had hoped for in the 2019 model year has failed to materialize. Nevertheless, we appreciate the fun styling of this affordable Nissan crossover SUV.
The 5-passenger Kicks has a comfortable and roomy interior. As with other vehicles in Nissan’s lineup, the Kicks is fitted with NASA-inspired “zero-gravity” seats that provide good support. The Kicks also has a built-in armrest on the right-hand side of the driver’s seat, a rarity in vehicles at this affordable price-point. All models come with a central 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system, with logically arranged controls for the climate system right below. While there isn’t a lot of storage space up front for smaller items like phones or purses, there’s plenty of room in back for sports gear or a small stroller. With the rear seats up, there is 25.3 cubic feet of storage; folding them creates over 53 cubic feet. That capacity puts the Kicks near the top of its class, but without the unrivaled flexibility of Honda’s HR-V. At 33.2 inches, rear-seat legroom is also notably less than the Honda’s 39.3 inches.
We still feel the Nissan Kicks is one of the better-looking subcompact SUVs. It’s handsome, but it manages to have some visual flair without going overboard. All Kicks models have what Nissan calls a “floating roof” design, courtesy of blacked-out window pillars. On SV and SR models, the 2019 Nissan Kicks can be ordered with a white or black roof for $200, an increase of $50 over last year but still a good deal. While base Kicks models ride on 16-inch steel wheels with covers, SV and SR models boast much better-looking 17-inch aluminum alloys. Roof rails are standard equipment on the Kicks for added practicality. Only the SR gets a rear roof spoiler.
The 2019 Nissan Kicks is not exactly fast, but the 1.6-liter engine feels adequate in everyday driving or commuting. It has 122 horsepower, which doesn’t seem like much, but the Kicks weighs less than 2,700 pounds. As such, the Kicks has a nimble, light-on-its-feet feel, and it’s surprisingly comfortable given its compact size. A tight turning radius is also appreciated, making U-turns a breeze. As with many other Nissans, the Kicks employs a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). While CVTs improve fuel economy, they can drone a bit because they don’t have set shift points like a traditional automatic. Nor does the Kicks have any steering-wheel paddles or a manual mode to replicate gearshifts. Also, on the freeway, the Kicks' short 103.1-inch wheelbase translates to a somewhat jittery ride, which could get bothersome on long trips.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 2019 Nissan Kicks starts at $18,540, which does not include the destination charge of $990. While the Kicks SV slots in at a budget-friendly $20,250, the Kicks SR starts not much higher, at $20,870. The SR Premium Package, with 8-speaker Bose stereo, heated front seats, upgraded fabric and a vehicle security system, adds $1,000. These are highly competitive prices that undercut those of most other compact-crossover-utility vehicles except the Kia Soul, which seems more like a car than a crossover SUV anyway. The Kicks holds its resale value pretty well versus most of the competition, aside from the Honda HR-V and the Mazda CX-3. As always, before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Kicks.
The 2019 Nissan Kicks is available in three levels: S, SV and SR. The S, the most affordable, is equipped with air conditioning and cruise control, along with roof rails, USB connectivity and stereo controls on the steering wheel. The S also has forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, which may provide some parents with a bit comfort if they’ve purchased a Kicks for their child, a first-time driver. The SV ups the ante with standard Apple CarPlay and climate control, plus 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, Sirius satellite radio and a blind-spot monitoring alert. The SR tops the Kicks lineup with a dark satin chrome grille, roof spoiler and 360-degree around-view monitor, plus fog lights and LED headlights.
For only $1,710 more than a base Kicks S, the Kicks SV is a screaming deal. Along with blind-spot monitoring, the SV gets Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, 17-inch wheels, heated side mirrors, automatic climate control and a cargo cover. The top-line SR model is also a good deal, only $620 more expensive than an SV but equipped with LED headlights and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, plus fog lights and Nissan’s 360-degree bird’s-eye-view camera. Besides the black or white roof, the SR has only one major option: the premium Bose audio system. Heated front seats also are optional on the SR.
BOSE AUDIO SYSTEM
An 8-speaker Bose Personal Plus premium sound system is available on the top-trim Kicks SR model. Besides proprietary signal processing, this system includes a pair of 2.5-inch speakers in the driver's headrest, giving whoever’s behind the wheel the best seat in the house.
THE SR MODEL
With its LED headlights, LED signature accents, black sideview mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, roof-mounted rear spoiler and dark chrome grille accents, the SR looks the part as the sportiest Kicks offering.
Under the Hood
The Nissan Kicks uses a small 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a CVT automatic transmission. Unlike the Hyundai Kona and Kia Soul, no optional upgraded engine is available. Like the Toyota C-HR, the Nissan Kicks is available only with front-wheel drive (FWD). If you live in areas with inclement weather and need all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction, you might want to take a look at the slightly larger Rogue Sport or Rogue. Although the Kicks’ 122-horsepower engine is not all that thrilling, it gives Nissan’s smallest SUV an EPA highway fuel-economy rating of 36 mpg, which is excellent.
122 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
114 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/36 mpg
The Nissan Kicks is entering its second model year in relatively unchanged fashion. This affordable subcompact-crossover SUV, a replacement of sorts for the discontinued Juke, is designed to meet the needs of singles or couples who are looking for expressive styling, abundant technology and advanced safety features. To that end, the 2019 Nissan Kicks is fitted with standard automatic emergency braking, and advanced available features such as rear cross-traffic alert and a 360-degree around-view camera. Perhaps most attractive, the Kicks S starts below $19,000. Unfortunately, all-wheel drive is not available. Nevertheless, the Kicks is a smart choice for youthful drivers or others on a budget, and it returns an impressive 36 mpg on the highway. Rivals include the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR and Mazda CX-3.