NISSAN’S NEW KICKS
Though Nissan’s zeroing in on young, tech-savvy, urban drivers with its 2018 Kicks, you don’t need to be a member of the selfie generation to appreciate this tidy SUV that’s easy to drive, easy to park and easy on the wallet.
How affordable? The Kicks entry-level S trim stickers for $17,990, goes up to $19,690 for the mid-level SV version and tops out at $20,290 for the SR. The kicker is that the Kicks offers features usually found on vehicles costing considerably more.
All Kicks, for instance, are equipped with automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning standard. Same goes for a 7.0-inch infotainment color touch screen that’s also tied to the government-required back-up camera. There’s also Bluetooth hands-free calling and streaming audio, Siri Eyes Free, a couple of charging USB ports, push button ignition, remote keyless entry, cruise control with illuminated steering-wheel controls, tilt/telescoping steering column, and power mirrors, windows and door locks. Finally, the Kicks S has 16 x 6-inch steel rims with wheel covers and 205/60 all-season tires — the giveaway that it’s the budget model — and a big help if you’re on a lot looking for a particular Kicks to drive.
Passing on the wheel covers and spending another $1,700 gets you the SV, which kicks things up a notch or two with a 7-inch display for driver information, an upgraded NissanConnect 7.0-inch infotainment display with multi-touch controls, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that piggybacks off compatible smartphones, Nissan intelligent key, 17 x 6.5-inch alloy wheels and 205/55 all-season tires, painted power heated outside mirrors and body-colored exterior door handles. The standard remote engine start and automatic temperature control can help manage extreme temperatures. Three significant additions to the list of standard features are blind spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems and an SiriusXM satellite radio with complimentary three-month subscription.
The chart-topping SR model adds LED low-beam headlights and accent lighting, rear spoiler, fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and sport cloth seat trim with orange accents and stitching. It also throws in Nissan’s AroundView monitor, which uses cameras to look on all four sides from an overhead perspective. It’s a slick weapon in those parking-space wars.
The SR trim is the only way to get the $1,000 SR premium package, which adds a nifty Bose audio system, special seating material, heated front seats and a vehicle security system. The eight-speaker, driver-centric Bose stereo drives a pair of 2.5-inch Bose neodymium speakers incorporated in the driver’s seat headrest, a 6.5-inch Bose speaker in each of the front doors, 1-inch tweeters on the A-pillars and 5.25-inch speakers in the rear doors. The system’s six channels enable custom equalization via the Bose “PersonalSpace” control to immerse the driver in music.
There’s also a Rockford Fosgate audio system available for $595.
From the outside, styling cues like boomerang headlights and grille design make clear that it’s the newest member of the Nissan clan. Depending on trim, the 2018 Kicks can be had with one of seven colors — plus five eye-catching two-tone combinations.
The Kicks’ 169.1-inch length and 103.1-inch wheelbase slots it squarely between Nissan’s the Versa Note and the Rogue Sport. The brand new CUV benefits from some clever space utilization. At 94 cu. ft., the Kicks’ passenger compartment is just 2 cu. ft. smaller than the Rogue Sport. When it comes to cargo room, though, the Kicks has 25 cu. ft. of luggage space, 5 cu. ft. more than the Rogue Sport.
That’s with all seats in their full and upright positions. Stowing the second row takes the total cargo space to 53 cu. ft. Need more? There’s nearly 22 cu. ft. of storage area in the trunk well.
It sounded like a good choice for my camera-lugging, globetrotting friend and colleague Antonio Alvendia, so I asked him to check out the Kicks at its San Diego media introduction and report back. The 6-ft.-1 motorsports shooter and marketing maven came away impressed.
“This thing comes with a ton of legroom for the front two seats. And it’s got amazing headroom,” Alvendia said. “The telescoping steering wheel column helps too. Nissan gave it an outstanding turning radius. We tested it on some really busy streets.”
With its 34.1-foot turning diameter and overall compactness, the Kicks is able to whip around and squeeze into tight parking spaces. But it’s not too cramped inside. For instance, that headroom comes in at 40.7 inches for front-seaters and 38.5 inches for riders in the 60/40 back seats. The driver and front passenger have 43.7 inches of legroom — 1.9 inches greater than Nissan’s current Titan full-size pickup. The back-seaters have 33.2 inches. The Kicks’ hatch also rises high enough that six-footers won’t have to duck to reach into the cargo area.
Alvendia’s everyday car is a luxury sedan. “It’s a pain in the butt. Because the car’s long, you can’t always find parking spaces,” he said. “So it makes sense to have a smaller vehicle that takes cheaper gas. The Kicks also has a halfway decent trunk. I think it’s going to do well for Nissan. It’s also an excellent choice for a rental car or people who drive for Uber or Lyft.”
The Kicks gets its motivation from a 125-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder and Nissan’s Xtronic CVT. Weighing in at 2,672 (for the SR), the power to weight ratio is more than adequate for normal driving.
The Kicks, officially considered a five-door hatchback by the EPA, earned fuel economy ratings of 31 city, 36 highway and 33 combined — or a burn rate of three gallons per 100 miles.
Which one to buy? We’d say the SR. Its $600 up-charge over the SV is compelling considering that Nissan charges $360 alone for the optional rear roof spoiler on the SV.
After all, with many buyers in its target audience willingly spending over $800 for the latest-and-greatest smartphone every year or two, the Bose-equipped, apps-enhanced Kicks SR shouldn’t meet much resistance.