2018 Nissan Kicks Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.4

The 2018 Nissan Kicks has mediocre overall performance, with only one drivetrain option and so-so engine power. However, it gets better fuel economy than nearly every SUV in its class. The Kicks provides a smooth ride, and its handling is composed but unexciting.

  • "The Kicks is an enjoyable driver at a relaxed pace, and on the freeway or on the city streets, when the engine is more subdued, the little crossover is quiet." -- Autoweek
  • What you can't get on the Kicks, but what the HR-V, Kona, and Renegade offer, is all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive is enough for most drivers, if they fit adequate tires for the season and conditions. The Kicks is sure-footed enough that those drivers won't miss the extra driven wheels." -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

The 2018 Nissan Kicks comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 125 horsepower and 115 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission are standard. According to EPA estimates, the Kicks gets 31 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, which are excellent figures for the class.

The engine provides enough power to quickly launch the Kicks from a stop, but this Nissan requires extra lead time to merge into high-speed traffic. The transmission is pleasingly quiet at normal driving speeds, but it can be a little loud under heavy acceleration

  • Power comes from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 125 horsepower and 115 pound-feet of torque paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission. That's not a lot of horsepower, and it does show when it comes time to accelerate into heavy traffic. The CVT, which can be loud especially in lower-priced vehicles, is nicely muted and does its job unnoticed in the background. The upside to this mild powertrain is outstanding fuel economy with an EPA-estimated 33 miles per gallon combined." -- Boston Globe
  • "Power-wise, Nissan tuned the Kicks to have some punch off the line, which helps alleviate the absence of total power, but if you don't stay in the throttle, the power falls off quickly and dramatically. Stay in it, and you have enough thrust to make your merge, but only just." -- Left Lane News
  • This isn't a quick machine, though it's not painfully slow like the aforementioned CH-R, either. The throttle is tuned so the car feels zippy off the line, but keep your foot plastered to the firewall and the engine gets a little loud and buzzy as it nears 6,000 rpm." -- Autoweek

Handling and Braking

The Nissan Kicks delivers balanced and precise steering that allows for easy maneuverability. The ride stays soft over rough surfaces, and while the Kicks isn't the most athletic vehicle in the class, handling is tight and composed.

  • "On those urban streets, the little hatch feels right at home. The ride quality is quite good over broken pavement, and in every direction, the view out is expansive. That cannot be said about certain Kicks competitors, like the Toyota C-HR." -- Autoweek
  • "Ride was difficult to judge on the smooth roads of the southern California press-preview location, but it seemed to be solid and quite supple. Handling was fine, maneuverability even better, thanks to a short overall length, fairly narrow body, and tight turning radius." -- Consumer Guide
  • "A small, flat-bottomed steering wheel produces a relatively quick steering ratio that's weighted nicely. On-center accuracy is excellent, although not much feedback makes its way to the driver. The Kicks is … nowhere near as fun to drive as the more-powerful Juke or the more-expensive Mazda CX-3, but it provided a competent driving experience on back roads in line with other vehicles at this price." -- CNET

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