My first glimpse of the 2018 Nissan Kicks came at the Washington Auto Show back in January. I was kind of confused as to what it was and why it was making its way into the Nissan lineup. Now that I’ve had a chance to head down to Baltimore and spend a few hours getting my kicks around town (see what I did there?)
Let me introduce you to Fells Point, a historic waterfront neighborhood in southeast Baltimore. It’s known for quaint shops and antique stores and plenty of pubs. But the area has recently received a touch of class with a hotel literally on the water. The Sagamore Pendry Hotel played host to the Nissan Kicks event. As an entertainment podcaster and blogger, I was a little excited to see the restored and repurposed building once used for shows like Homicide: Life on the Streets and The Wire.
Inside this gorgeous hotel, we got to hear a product introduction from Michael Terrell, Chief Marketing Manager for the Nissan Kicks. I took notes as he spoke to make sure he’s answer all my questions but by the time they opened it up, they’d pretty much all been answered.
Who is the Nissan Kicks for?
Nissan calls it an entry-level CUV (compact utility vehicle) offering a progressive style, technology, and value. It’s geared toward anyone that wants all three but they expect this to mainly appeal to a younger market. Think college kids – it’s a perfect vehicle for them.
Why make another CUV?
Nissan already offers the strong-selling Nissan Rogue, Nissan Rogue Sport. (They also put the Murano and Pathfinder in the CUV segment but I’m not buying it). With sales in this segment being so strong, they wanted to offer an affordable and flexible driving solution.
Affordable is a relative term. What exactly does that mean?
Glad you asked. I’m pretty frugal and even I consider a $30k car to be a pretty good bargain. So when I heard that the Nissan Kicks starts at under $18k, I was pretty impressed. Being a lover of all the bells and whistles, my question was what does the price max out at. I’m one that tends to get every option imaginable (and there are some pretty good options you might want on this vehicle). Surprisingly, the price maxes out at $21,290. That doesn’t include things like destination fees and accessories (of which there are plenty).
Tell me about the innovative style.
It’s actually a collaborative style between Nissan design studios in San Diego and Brazil, where it’s been in the market for a few years. You’ll find a simplistic gliding wing dash design and D shaped steering wheel.
Nissan offers fun colors including five different two-tone color combinations. The color styling is meant to give the illusion of a “floating roof.” When you watch my video below, you’ll see which one I picked (color matters!).
How about the technology?
One big feature Nissan highlighted was the standard automatic emergency braking system. This safety feature alerts the driver to an impending crash and is an upgrade for many vehicles in the same segment.
But let’s face it. “Young-minded” buyers for the Nissan Kicks will probably care more about the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on upper level trims and the Bose Personal Plus sound system with headrest speakers in the Premium trim. I went for the highest level trim for the car I drove (Nissan Kicks SR Premium) and I personally wouldn’t accept anything less!
Let’s talk value.
Value isn’t just about price. It’s about what you get for the money. The Nissan Kicks has a $3k price difference between the entry level trim (SV) and the top level trim (SR Premium). Whether you’re paying $18k or $22k, that’s a good price. Now let’s talk about fuel economy. All are front wheel drive and all use the same 1.6L 4 cylinder engine. That means you’ll see the same fuel economy no matter how much you spend – an average of 33 mpg with a range of 31 to 36.
So what’s not to love?
If I had to point out a few things you should know before looking seriously at the Nissan Kicks, it would go something like this:
- It’s front wheel drive only. If you’re looking to go offroading in your CUV, this isn’t the one for you.
- It delivers 125hp. Even if you’re not up on specs, that’s not a lot. But it has good torque. That means that once you’re up to speed, it’s very zippy and has good handling.
- No leather. I’m still a sucker for leather seats but the synthetic leather in the SR Premium is a nice substitute.
- The cargo area isn’t entirely flat. While there’s a roomy 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space, the rear seat doesn’t fold entirely flat (see video below).
If you’re looking for an affordable roomy CUV, I’d definitely put the Nissan Kicks on your short list.