Car Reviews SUV of the Year

Nissan Kicks: 2019 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender

WE LIKE Strong value, clever interior, kickin’ stereo

WE DON’T LIKE No AWD, seat comfort, noisy at speed

With only 125 hp under its hood, the Nissan Kicks is deceptively quick on the road and on the track. Its low curb weight makes it nimble, but it lacks the performance and speed to make it a budget Mini Countryman. Still, it makes a strong value play.

Its CVT behaves better than those in previous Nissans we’ve driven, but it still struggles to respond quickly to throttle commands and suffers from sluggish simulated shifts.

With a price tag of just over $23,000 USD, the Kicks SR with the Premium package comes with cool details such as orange stitching throughout the cabin and a terrific Bose sound system with two speakers located in the driver’s headrest. However, there were complaints about the seating position and uncomfortable lumbar support.

Our biggest complaint? The fact that the Kicks is marketed as an SUV but lacks AWD. Although it surprisingly didn’t get stuck on the sand of the Power Sports track, it struggled to go up the sand hill.

On-road, the amount of wind noise, road noise, and tire noise is nearly deafening, Mark Rechtin noted. “But that’s OK—you just crank up the awesome Bose stereo, and everything is cool.”

It’s a great deal for Sun Belters looking to buy a first new car that doesn’t feel cheap. With a stylish design, smartphone-friendly technology, and an affordable price, Nissan has come up with the right formula to market to millennial buyers.

“It’s not quick, but it’s good enough, and it goes off-road better than some of the AWD cars here,” Scott Evans said. “It has tons of rear-seat and cargo space for the class. This is a really solid pick.”


2018 Nissan Kicks SR
Base Price/As tested $21,285/$23,045
Power (SAE net) 125 hp @ 5,800 rpm
Torque (SAE net) 115 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Accel, 0-60 mph 9.9 sec
Quarter-mile 17.6 sec @ 77.9 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 133 ft
Lateral Acceleration 0.77 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 29.2 sec @ 0.55 g (avg)
EPA City/Hwy/Comb 31/36/33 mpg
Vehicle Layout Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine/Transmission 1.6L DOHC 16-valve I-4/ Cont variable auto
Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 2,670 lb (61/39%)
Wheelbase 103.1 in
Length x Width x Height 169.1 x 69.3 x 62.4 in
Energy Cons, City/Hwy 109/94 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 Emissions, Comb 0.59 lb/mile