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MSRP: $17,990 - 20,290

7.9

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.2
Performance: 7.4
Interior: 8.0
Safety: TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Nissan Kicks Review

The 2018 Nissan Kicks has intuitive features and tons of cargo space, but it ranks in the middle of the subcompact SUV class because of its underwhelming engine and bland interior.

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Low base price
  • Plenty of standard and optional features
  • Ample cargo space
  • Somewhat weak engine
  • Rear seats don't fold flat

Is the Nissan Kicks a Good SUV?

The all-new Nissan Kicks takes the place of the Juke in Nissan's lineup, and it's a decent first effort for this subcompact SUV. It can swallow up a ton of cargo, and there's good passenger space all-around. The interior design probably won't wow you, but there's a long list of standard and optional amenities to make up for it. The Kicks also returns some of the best gas mileage in the class.

Overall performance is blasé, but that's normal in a class not known for thrilling driving dynamics. The Kicks has less horsepower than nearly every rival, but it provides balanced handling and a comfortable ride.

Should I Buy the Nissan Kicks?

Much of the Kicks' appeal comes from its value. Though it's the only subcompact SUV with a starting price under $18,000, the Kicks has a lengthy features list. Base models come with a touch-screen infotainment system, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. You can keep the price under $20,000 and get an even better equipped model with satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, remote start, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. The Kicks is also a competent daily driver with excellent fuel economy, great maneuverability, comfortable seats, and a supple ride quality. If you're looking for the most bang for your buck, this Nissan should definitely be on your list.

Should I Buy a New or Used Nissan Kicks?

The 2018 Nissan Kicks is an all-new SUV, so there are no used models to choose from.

We Did the Research for You: 10 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 10 Nissan Kicks reviews – along with reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2018 Kicks is the right new car for you.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking and reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our editorial team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our reviews are unbiased, we don't accept expensive gifts or incentives from car companies, and a third party handles our advertising.

How Much Does the Nissan Kicks Cost?

The new Nissan Kicks starts at $17,990, which makes it the only subcompact SUV to retail for under $18,000. Its two higher trims, the SV and SR, start at $19,690 and $20,290, respectively.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Nissan dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Nissan deals page.

Nissan Kicks Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Nissan Kicks or Toyota C-HR?

Like the Kicks, the Toyota C-HR is an all-new small crossover. The only advantage the CH-R has over the Kicks is its lengthy list of advanced safety features that come standard, but even that isn't enough to save this Toyota from a bottom-of-the-barrel ranking. In a class where most SUVs have unimpressive performance, the CH-R's is among the most anemic. It has slow acceleration from a stop and a whining transmission. Inside, the CH-R provides terrible rear visibility and a cramped back seat. Plenty of hard plastics dress up the cabin, and the black-on-black interior combo (your only choice) does nothing to improve the atmosphere. The infotainment graphics feel dated, and features like navigation aren't even available. On top of everything else, its starting price ($22,500) is high for the class. The Kicks is unquestionably the better SUV.

Which Is Better: Nissan Kicks or Honda HR-V?

While the CH-R is one of the worst SUVs in this class, the Honda HR-V is one of the best, and its starting price of $19,670 is on the low end for a subcompact SUV. It has one of the largest cargo holds in the segment, as well as an adult-friendly rear seat. The HR-V gets slightly lower fuel economy estimates than the Kicks, but it's still well above average for the class. There's not much difference in performance between these two rivals – they're both OK daily drivers with composed handling but mediocre engine power. When it comes to features and technology, the Kicks offers more for less. It comes standard with an infotainment system and some driver assistance features. You'll have to upgrade to a midrange trim to get an infotainment system in the HR-V, and it isn't particularly easy to use. The HR-V doesn't offer any active safety features beyond a blind-spot camera, nor does it offer Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Still, the HR-V is a well-rounded SUV and worth your consideration.

Compare the Kicks, C-HR, and HR-V »

Kicks Interior

How Many People Does the Kicks Seat?

The new Nissan Kicks seats five. The interior is spacious for a subcompact SUV, and the front row is open and airy, with excellent outward visibility for the driver. Nissan's Zero Gravity seats provide excellent comfort for long drives. In the back, even tall adults have enough room to get comfortable. The Kicks comes standard with cloth seats, and all models feature manual seat adjustments. Upgrades like leatherette upholstery and heated front seats are available but power-adjustable seats are not.

Kicks and Car Seats

The Kicks has two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors in its outboard rear seats, along with one top tether anchor on the middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn't evaluated it yet for its ease of use. The back seats are too narrow for booster seats to fit. The seat covers the belt buckle and pushes it down into the cushion.

Kicks Interior Quality

The Kick's interior styling and makeup is a mixed bag – there are plenty of hard plastics in this Nissan, but it doesn't look or feel cheap. The overall design is fairly sleek and modern, and the interior remains quiet even when cruising at highway speeds.

Kicks Cargo Space

The 2018 Nissan Kicks has a best-in-class 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space under its hatch. By comparison, the Honda HR-V has 24.3 cubic feet, and the Toyota C-HR has 19 cubic feet. Fold down the Kicks’ back seat, and you’ll get about 53 cubic feet of space, which is also above average for the class. With 58.8 cubic feet, the HR-V is one of the few class rivals with more overall room than the Kicks.

The main gripe with the Kicks' cargo hold is that the second row doesn’t fold entirely flat. That can be annoying if you’re trying to carry large items that take up most of the space. On the plus side, the load floor of the trunk is low, so it’s easy to lift heavy items into the back.

Kicks Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Despite its low price point, the Kicks comes well-equipped and offers an extensive list of optional amenities. Standard equipment includes a six-speaker stereo, two USB ports, Bluetooth, push-button start, and a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system. Physical controls for things like audio and climate are intuitively laid out on the dashboard and easy to reach for most drivers. The touch screen has streamlined menus that are easy to click through to find the function you want.

Highlights of the options list include an eight-speaker Bose premium sound system and NissanConnect with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which allow you to easily connect your smartphone to the Kicks' infotainment system where you can access your phone's apps directly on the touch screen. Audiophiles will want the Bose system – it’ll blow you away with its sound, accented by speakers in the driver’s headrest. Other optional features include automatic climate control, proximity key entry, remote start, satellite radio, a Rockford Fosgate audio system, and a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot.

Read more about interior »

Kicks Performance

Kicks Engine: Could Be Kicked Up a Notch

A 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine powers the 2018 Nissan Kicks, delivering 125 horsepower and 115 pound-feet of torque. Its power output is among the lowest in its class. You should have enough muscle to easily get going from a stop, but you'll have to mash the pedal when speeding up to merge or pass on the highway. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is not available.

A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) comes standard and earns praise for its smooth, responsive shifts that make it feel more like a traditional automatic. Unlike other CVTs, the Kicks' operates quietly at most times, only exhibiting a droning noise when under heavy acceleration.

Kicks Gas Mileage: Better Than Most

Though the Kicks is near the bottom of the class for engine power, it is among the best in terms of fuel economy. You can expect up to 31 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The Honda HR-V earns up to 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, and it would cost you about $50 more per year in fuel costs compared to the Kicks. The Toyota C-HR (27/31 mpg city/highway) would cost you about $150 more per year in fuel compared to the Kicks.

Kicks Ride and Handling: Solid and Smooth

The Kicks doesn't stand out for its driving dynamics, but it does what it's supposed to do pretty well. It's easily maneuverable, which is a plus for navigating city streets or tight suburban parking lots. Steering is well-weighted and predictable, and ride quality remains smooth over most surfaces.

Read more about performance »

Kicks Reliability

Is the Nissan Kicks Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2018 Nissan Kicks a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is considered average. The Toyota C-HR has one of the best ratings in the class at 4.5 out of five.

Nissan Kicks Warranty

Nissan covers the 2018 Kicks with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Kicks Safety

Kicks Crash Test Results

At the time of this writing, the new Nissan Kicks has not undergone crash testing by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Kicks Safety Features

The 2018 Kicks comes standard with a rearview camera, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. The latter two features alert you when they detect an imminent crash ahead and can apply the brakes if you don’t respond to the warnings. Optional driver assistance features include rear parking sensors, a surround-view camera, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot monitoring.

Read more about safety »

Which Nissan Kicks Model Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Nissan Kicks is available in three trim levels: the S, SV, and SR. A 125-horsepower engine, a continuously variable automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive are standard.

The midrange SV model offers the best combination of features and price. It builds on the base model's decent list of standard features with amenities like satellite radio, smartphone integration, and more driver assistance features.

Nissan Kicks S

The base Nissan Kicks S starts at $17,990. Standard features include cloth upholstery, a six-speaker stereo, two USB ports, Bluetooth, push-button start, a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system, a rearview camera, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.

Individual options for all trim levels include a Rockford Fosgate audio system ($595), rear parking sensors ($150), and a Wi-Fi hot spot ($450).

Nissan Kicks SV

The Nissan Kicks SV retails for $19,690. This model adds automatic climate control, satellite radio, proximity key entry, remote start, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and NissanConnect with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Nissan Kicks SR

For $20,290, the Nissan Kicks SR includes LED low-beam headlights, fog lights, a spoiler, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a surround-view camera. The optional Premium package retails for $1,000 and includes an eight-speaker Bose premium sound system, Prima-Tex leatherette upholstery, and heated front seats.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Nissan dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Nissan deals page.

See 2018 Nissan Kicks specs and trims »

The Final Call

The all-new Nissan Kicks is a perfectly capable subcompact SUV. Its low base price, long list of features, and spacious interior make it a compelling choice, despite its midrange overall performance in the class.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "In all, the 2018 Nissan Kicks is not a bad choice for the buyer who wants to get the most value for their hard-earned money, bringing an incredible amount of technology and style to the table at a price that costs less than attending most four-year colleges." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "At the end of the (admittedly, very brief) day, we were not completely disenchanted by the Kicks. It's a cheaper alternative to the already-cheap C-HR, and in that context, it's a perfectly acceptable vehicle." -- Left Lane News
  • "Does the world need another crossover/SUV? Perhaps not, but the world wants them. And the Kicks punches through dullness, bringing an up-to-date infotainment system, plenty of room for your stuff and your friends and a design flair that isn't remotely reminiscent to the gray midsize four-door sedan your parents wanted to give you." -- New York Daily News
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