The 2021 Nissan Kicks has a striking exterior and a spacious interior. It is a small, stylish SUV that also features practicality. Although the Kicks’ powertrain is lacking, it can still be used as a city commuter. The standard equipment includes many driver-assistance features as well as popular infotainment tech like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Nissan offers many customization options, including a wide range of accessories and bold colors. The one thing that might be a concern for SUV buyers is the absence of all-wheel drive. However, this SUV’s urban focus places more emphasis on fuel economy than on off-road capability.
What’s new for 2021?
The Nissan’s smallest crossover gets a redesign for 2021 that includes a bigger grille, slimmer headlamps and taillamps as well as streamlined bumpers and front bumpers. Nissan now offers a contrasting black roof option for cars with colors like Scarlet Ember Tintcoat or Boulder Gray Pearl. SV and SR models now have an 8.0-inch infotainment screen. All Kicks trims are now equipped with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The top-spec SR trim now offers Wi-Fi hotspot as an option. The dashboard console, front seat armrest and door trim panels have been updated with silver-painted accents. An electronic parking brake and auto brake-hold feature are now available, as well as adaptive cruise control.
Pricing and Which One To Buy
Even at the S trim level, the Kicks is well equipped and includes many standard driver-assist features. The mid-range SV is our choice; it includes desirable features such as an 8.0-inch infotainment screen, adaptive cruise control and 17-inch wheels. All Kicks models have front-wheel drive.
Performance, Transmission and Engine
The 2021 Kicks models are powered by a 122-hp four cylinder engine. This provides a decent, but not thrilling acceleration. CVT (continuously variable automatic transmission) is used to shift and drive the front wheels. All-wheel drive is not available. The Kicks’ leisurely 9.7 second sprint from 0 to 60 mph may seem slow. The test results are only half of the story. It feels great around town, provided you are willing to crank the engine. Although the Kicks is more agile and fun to drive than larger SUVs, it is not a thrilling ride on twisty roads. It is tuned for comfort and provided a comfortable ride over the rough roads surrounding our Ann Arbor offices. Although the steering is precise and direct, there is very little feedback from the road to drivers’ hands.
Fuel Economy and Real World MPG
The Kicks has excellent EPA fuel economy ratings. In our 75-mph real world highway fuel-economy testing, it sipped more fuel like an SUV than an economy car. The Toyota C-HR was a close second with a 37-mpg score. The Toyota C-HR’s 37-mpg result was impressive, but the 10.8-gallon fuel tank reduces its cruising range.
Interior, Comfort, & Cargo
Although the interior styling of the Kicks is not as trendy as the exterior, it is sturdy, stylish, and user-friendly. It can carry people and cargo with its adult-sized rear seat, unlike rivals like the C-HR. The cabin is brightened up with splashes of color that break up the monotony of an otherwise all-black interior. The Kicks, despite its small size, impressed us with its cargo results, beating larger competitors and matching them. With the rear seats folded, we were able to fit 19 carry-on suitcases. The cargo area is limited for small items, but the front seat occupants will not notice it because of large door pockets and large gloveboxes.
Connectivity and Infotainment
Although the Nissan infotainment system may not be the most visually appealing on the market, it is intuitive and easy-to-learn. Although some of the icons on the screen are a bit too small to be able to use while driving, the system’s simplicity and short list makes it easier than the Honda HRV’s. Base Kicks S has a 7.0 inch touchscreen and a six-speaker stereo system. The SR and SV have an 8.0-inch displays, additional USB-C ports, and access NissanConnect telematics. The Premium package can be ordered by buyers of the SR, which includes a Bose stereo system as well as a Wi-Fi hotspot.