Nissan Kicks Refresh
Nissan has refreshed its popular compact crossover Nissan Kicks for 2021, giving it a new front grille and fascia, spiffy wheel designs, new color options and a sophisticated cabin with more standard technology while keeping class-leading mileage, a major plus amidst today’s rising gasoline prices.
Increased Sales in 2020
The five-passenger Kicks, the smallest crossover SUV Nissan makes, was the company’s only vehicle of those marketed in the United States that increased sales in 2020 over 2019 – a testament to its appeal in a fiercely competitive compact crossover market that has in recent years lost sales annually to the popularity surge of SUV’s and trucks.
However, with its success in a crowded market niche with 45 different models, Nissan plans no major changes for 2022.
Major top trim competitors are Hyundai Venue, Kia Soul and Subaru Crosstrek – all selling for thousands less than today’s average new vehicle $45,000 price.
Nissan Kicks SR CVT Test Drive
Our test-drive SR CVT (SR meaning sport model and CVT meaning continuous variable transmission) is top trim above S and SV.It was flush with seven options costing $3,640 including a $1,200 Premium Package adding heated front seats wearing Prima-Tex faux leather, heated steering wheel, Wi-Fi hotspot, 8-speaker BOSE audio and a new security system.
The test car had two-tone paint (ours had a black roof and pillars above electric blue metallic body paint and lower black body cladding), 17-inch alloy wheels, kick plates, and 20-color interior ambient lighting were included among other options.
The front-wheel drive Kicks had decent handling with some lean in the turns at higher speeds, it rode comfortably and exhibited better than 30-mpg on highways or city streets.
The 1.6-liter engine felt slightly under-powered with noticeable engine noise when accelerating.
All New Features for 2021
New looks and features for 2021 include the newly designed front grille, exterior LED lights, new colors inside and out with Nissan claiming, “over 100 million available color combinations,” and available 8-inch touchscreen, BOSE audio, Nissan Connect services, 360-degree surround view monitor plus newly standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, that can be used for navigation.
Kicks offers standard cutting-edge driver safety aids, like intelligent cruise control, a new rear brake disc system, and rear automatic emergency braking among other aids.
Kicks received four out of five stars for overall safety in government crash tests.
Nissan Kick’s Cabin Space
The cabin is spacious and stylish with stitched trim, numerous knick-knack spaces, comfortable seats and easily reached Nissan Connect for intuitively researched rich infotainment features.
Visors extend and a compact spare tire resides beneath generous cargo space.
At a Glance
LIKES: Price, comfort, visibility, versatility, mileage, cabin/cargo space
DISLIKES: Underpowered, acceleration noise, lean in turns
BOTTOM LINE: Lots of pluses for those with skimpy wallets.
Fact File: 2021 Nissan Kicks SR CVT
1.6-liter, DOHC, 4-cylinder inline
122 hp at 6,300 rpm
114 lbs.-ft. at 4,000 rpm
31 mpg city, 36 highway
10.8 gallons, regular
0-60 in 10 seconds
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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.