DETROIT — Nissan has hit the ball out of the park with the Kicks on several levels.
First, the 2019 Nissan Kicks was a small crossover which came to market in the era of crossovers. It had great styling, lots of equipment and it is aimed at the young in age, the young at heart or both. What’s more, it is relatively affordable.
Power was provided by a 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine with a continuous variable valve timing control system and Xtronic CVT transmission. The engine was rated at 122 horsepower with 114 pound-feet of torque.
With an EPA rating of 31 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined, according to Nissan, it is the best-in-class in all three segments. The Kicks is offered in front-wheel drive only.
This continuously variable transmission transferred spunk to the pavement smartly. Acceleration was good, the transmission didn’t whine under hard acceleration and it feigned shifting which was meant to allay any disconcertment about the drone that comes with CVTs. It responded much like a normal transmission.
It was a really dynamic powertrain for this vehicle which matched the way it looked. The Kicks is one of the few production vehicles that retain the look of its concept which was first shown at the 2014 São (Brazil) Paulo Motor Show. It was a global design; the automaker’s studios in the U.S. and Rio de Janeiro came up with the concept.
It had Nissan’s V-Motion grille, boomerang headlights and taillights and the floating roof with a wraparound visor. The C-pillar had a black finish that blended the tailgate glass with the floating roof.
This crossover had bold wheel arches, sharp creases, a high waistline, especially in the rear, yet the lines were soft enough as not to appear harsh. Everywhere I parked the 2019 Nissan Kicks somebody took a second look.
And the Kicks has five different two-tone paint combinations: Super Black/Aspen White TriCoat, Monarch Orange Metallic/Gun Metallic, Super Black/Monarch Orange Metallic, Super Black/Cayenne Red Metallic and Fresh Powder TriCoat/Deep Blue Pearl. The orange roof of my test vehicle made it easy to find in parking lots.
Inside there was a really clean layout. The seats were comfortable. There was plenty of lumbar support. The interior was black with orange stitching. There was a 7-inch infotainment touch screen. The test vehicle did not have a navigation system. But it did have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In other words, you could link the navigation system on a smartphone to the car.
Beneath the touch infotainment screen was a storage bay of sorts. Framing it were the USB and auxiliary jacks, plus a 12V socket. Just above that was a control pod for the climate. I was surprised that the Kicks had heated front seats.
The 2019 Nissan Kicks had a combination of analog instruments (the speedometer) and a large TFT space next to it. That’s where you could pull up a digital odometer, plus lots of other information. A flat bottom steering wheel lent to the air of sportiness.
This was a very maneuverable vehicle. It was meant for the confines of urban America. It had a turning radius of 34.1 feet. It had active engine braking for quicker slowdowns, active trace control and active ride control for a higher degree of level driving.
The driving dynamics were impressive. It handled the not-so-pristine streets here with ease. The ride was smooth, not bumpy like a lot of small vehicles and it was quiet.
Although it was compact, the 2019 Kicks had plenty of storage space for flea market and antique shop goodies. Nissan said cargo space behind the second row is larger than four of the Kicks’ key competitors. There were 32.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded down, and it had an additional non-EPA rated 21.8 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk well, enabling Kicks to offer a total 53.1 cubic feet of usable cargo space. That is a lot of space.
The crossover was equipped with blind spot alert, a rearview camera with cross traffic alert, push button lock and unlock as well as push-button start/stop and a 360-degree camera system that provided one of the best overhead views I’ve seen. Of course, it had Bluetooth, voice controls and satellite radio.
I got into the back seat and found it spacious. There was plenty of head and hip room. Legroom was ample. For $23,330, the 2019 Nissan Kicks seemed like an awfully good buy.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.