In terms of its price, the 2022 Nissan Kicks is the most affordable of Nissan’s SUVs, yet it still offers as standard equipment the infotainment and safety technologies it’s cash-strapped buyers want most.
But in terms of its performance, an underpowered engine and lack of all-wheel drive might make you question whether the Nissan Kicks is an SUV at all.
The 2022 Nissan Kicks is a subcompact crossover SUV. As long as an SUV is defined as something with a slightly raised driving position and a tailgate instead of a trunk. A high-riding hatchback might also be a useful description of the Kicks.
ENGINE AND IMPLEMENTATION
Every 2022 Nissan Kicks model is powered by a 122-hp four-cylinder engine that provides adequate but far from thrilling acceleration. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) handles shifting duties and drives the front wheels; all-wheel drive is not offered.
If the leisurely 9.7-second jog 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. The Kicks is nimble and more fun to throw around than some 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 southeast Michigan. The steering is direct and accurate, but there’s very little feedback that comes up from the road to the driver’s hands.
ENERGY AND REAL-WORLD MPG
The Kicks has earned excellent EPA fuel-economy ratings of 31 mpg city and 36 mpg highway; in our 75-mph real-world highway fuel-economy test, it sipped fuel more like an economy car than an SUV. Its 37-mpg result is tied with the Toyota C-HR.
Despite its stellar result in our test, the tiny 10.8-gallon fuel tank abbreviates its cruising range. For more information about the 2022 Nissan Kicks’ fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
INTERIOR, CONVENIENCE, AND BOOTH
Interior styling is less trendy than the exterior design of the 2022 Nissan Kicks, but it is well-built, looks grown-up, and has a user-friendly interior. An adult-sized rear seat means it can haul people and cargo without the cramped feeling one might experience in rivals such as the C-HR.
Splashes of color throughout the cabin do a nice job of breaking up the monotony of what would otherwise be an all-black interior. Despite its small size, the Kicks impressed us with its results in our cargo tests, matching and beating some larger rivals.
We managed to fit 19 of our carry-on suitcases with the rear seats folded. Small-item storage is at a premium in the cargo area and the back seat, but front-seat occupants won’t notice the pinch thanks to large door pockets and a large glovebox.
IN-VEHICLE INFOTAINMENT AND INTERCONNECTIONS
Nissan’s infotainment system is not among the most beautiful interfaces on the market today, but it’s intuitive and easy to learn.
We wish some of the on-screen icons were larger and easier to actuate while driving, but the system’s simple operation and a short list of features make it less daunting than the Honda HR-V’s system.
The base Kicks S comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, a six-speaker audio system, and Bluetooth connectivity while the mid-range SV and the top-spec SR get an 8.0-inch display, an extra USB-C port, and access to Nissan’s NissanConnect telematics and concierge system.
Buyers of the SR can order the optional Premium package, which adds a Bose stereo system and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
PROTECTION AND DRIVER-ASSISTANCE ASPECTS
Nissan provides a host of standard driver-assistance technology, and automated emergency braking is standard across the range.
2021 Nissan Kicks
front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block, and head, direct fuel injection
98 in3, 1598 cm3
122 hp @ 6300 rpm
114 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
continuously variable automatic
Wheelbase: 103.1 in
Length: 169.1 in
Width: 69.3 in
Height: 63.3–63.4 in
Passenger volume: 94 ft3
Cargo volume: 25 ft3
Curb weight (C/D est): 2700–2750 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 9.6 sec
100 mph: 36.5 sec
1/4 mile: 17.4 sec
Top speed: 110 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
Combined/city/highway: 33/31/36 mpg