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2020 Nissan Kicks Performance Review


Performance: 7.0

The 2020 Nissan Kicks' strong fuel economy, tight turning radius, and small stature make it a great subcompact SUV for city driving. On the highway, however, it's a different story as it struggles to get up to higher speeds, and its engine noise becomes more apparent.

  • If the leisurely 9.7-second jog from zero to 60 mph makes the Kicks seem slow, that's because it is. However, the test results we recorded are only half the story. Around town it feels plenty perky so long as you're willing to rev the engine." -- Car and Driver
  • Outright performance isn't the Kicks' forte, but it utilizes what little it has well. Its low weight and steering play heavily into that. And aside from lackluster braking performance, all other metrics are relatively middle-of-the-road." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "The Kick's chassis and suspension are also ably tuned. On our mountain road test, it maintained its composure through midcorner bumps and remained poised through successive corners." -- Autotrader (2019)

Acceleration and Power

The Kicks features a 122-horsepower four-cylinder engine that's mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The Kicks takes a while to accelerate, and its engine can be noisy at times. It's fine for around-town driving, but it's not the best choice if you spend a lot of time on the highway.

On the plus side, this Nissan earns outstanding fuel economy estimates of 31 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.

  • "Although its four-cylinder engine can be noisy and requires extra effort for passing on the highway, it feels peppy around town and is very fuel efficient." -- Car and Driver
  • Although the Kicks’ 122-horsepower engine is not all that thrilling, it gives Nissan’s smallest SUV an EPA highway fuel-economy rating of 36 mpg, which is excellent." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
  • It isn't the slowest of the pack, but the Kicks certainly isn't quick. In our testing, it took a leisurely 10.2 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill, which is a few seconds behind the segment leaders. If you're already moving, the Kicks feels a little more responsive, likely due to its lightweight nature." -- Edmunds (2019)

Handling and Braking

The Kicks is easy to maneuver through traffic and in tight parking garages. It has a comfortable and forgiving ride. The brakes, however, aren't the strongest in the class, as most rival SUVs take less time to stop. Also, unlike the Kicks, many competitors are available with all-wheel drive.

  • The Kicks is nimble and more fun to throw around than larger SUVs, but it's not exactly a thrill ride on a twisty road. The suspension is tuned more for comfort, and it provided a well-cushioned ride even over the pitted and crumbling roads around our offices in Ann Arbor. The steering is direct and accurate, but there's very little feedback that comes up from the road to the driver's hands." -- Car and Driver
  • "We're willing to forgive the Kicks' plasticky interior at this price point, but the inclusion of rear drum brakes plays a part in the Kicks achieving one of the longest stopping distances we've seen in such a small, lightweight car." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "It has 122 horsepower, which doesn’t seem like much, but the Kicks weighs less than 2,700 pounds. As such, the Kicks has a nimble, light-on-its-feet feel, and it’s surprisingly comfortable given its compact size. A tight turning radius is also appreciated, making U-turns a breeze." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
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2020 Nissan Kicks

MSRP: $18,870 - $21,120

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