By on November 29, 2017

2018 Nissan Kicks, Image: Nissan

The dubious long-term sales potential of the subcompact crossover segment isn’t swaying Nissan from introducing a B-segment vehicle in the United States. The automaker’s seventh utility vehicle, carrying the youthful name Kicks, debuted at the L.A. Auto Show today.

The Kicks is the only way Americans can take home any part of a Nissan Micra, as the diminutive crossover rides atop a second-generation version of that vehicle’s platform. The first-generation platform, you’ll recall, underpinned the funky Nissan Juke. That model, known for its polarizing styling, isn’t long for this world.

In its place, the Kicks offers slightly larger dimensions and — most importantly — safe and modern styling.

Everything about the Kicks seems designed to lure young, urban, tech-obsessed Millennials to the brand’s utility lineup, where Nissan hopes they’ll stay (and one day purchase a Rogue Sport, Rogue, Pathfinder, Murano, and Armada). The model’s anything but America-focused, however. It first went on sale in overseas markets in 2016.

2018 Nissan Kicks, Image: Nissan

When it arrives next June as a 2018 model, the Kicks faces no shortage of competition. The Chevrolet Trax, Mazda CX-3, Ford EcoSport, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, and Toyota C-HR lie in wait to challenge the new Nissan for subcompact sales.

In terms of abilities, the Kicks, which stretches just over half a foot longer than the Juke, boasts more ground clearance than some of its competitors (7.0 inches), but comes only in front-wheel drive. It’s available in eye-catching colors, and its blacked out C-pillar and roof is in keeping with current design trends, both corporate and industry-wide. Viewed from either the side or front, there’s Nissan cues everywhere. There’s also five available two-tone colour combinations, with the roof coming in white, orange, or black, depending on your preference.

Naturally, there’s lower bodyside and wheel arch cladding aplenty. Combined with the model’s generous ground clearance, the plastic trim gives the Kicks enough of a butch stance to avoid a “cute ute” label.

2018 Nissan Kicks, Image: Nissan

The only available engine won’t set any speed records, but should be adequate for a vehicle of this size. In this application, Nissan’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder makes 125 horsepower and 115 lb-ft of torque. When combined with the only available transmission, an Xtronic continuously variable unit, Nissan predicts a combined fuel economy figure of 33 miles per gallon.

Befitting of a youth-targeted model, the base Kicks S arrives with decent content. Automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and a rearview monitor come standard, as does roof rails, intelligent auto headlights, and Bluetooth. Nissan’s Vehicle Dynamic Control system (VDC) and hill-start assist helps base model drivers avoid getting into trouble.

2018 Nissan Kicks, Image: Nissan

Of course, if you’re looking for the two most popular driver’s aids — blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert — you’ll need to step up to the midrange SV model. That trim also adds Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a proximity key. The SR is the sportiest Kicks variant, adding go-fast appearance bits like a rear spoiler and body color bumper inserts, LED headlight bling, and a more colorful interior. Besides the addition of 17-inch wheels (the SV gets the same), SR buyers receive a more stable ride thanks to Nissan’s Integrated Dynamic-Control Module.

Like Toyota’s C-HR, it’s assumed that sporty Kicks drivers won’t want for more power.

Pricing remains a mystery for now. However, Nissan claims its price points (scheduled for publication next spring, just prior to launch) will be “among the most competitive in the segment.” It wouldn’t be a Nissan it there wasn’t some sort of value proposition.

[Images: Nissan]

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33 Comments on “Get Yer Kicks: Nissan’s Latest Utility Vehicle Will Soon Be Its Tiniest...”

  • avatar

    My BIL, an 80 yr old widower, drives around NE Ohio in an awd Juke. He claims it’s way cooler than the “normal” Buick or Camry commonly prescribed for his age bracket.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Kicks S”… seriously?

    Anyway, I like the styling and the FWD-only layout which will keep costs down. 33 mpg combined is hybrid territory.

    • 0 avatar

      Rav4 Hybrid and Escape Hybrid awd territory. Both of which are larger and more capable. Fwd hybrids the size of this car get far better mileage. Even then the Prius C is the only hybrid of similar size.

      This format reminds me of the Suziki S4. But it had a reasonably good awd system.

  • avatar

    So many panel gaps on a tiny C pillar…

  • avatar

    Says a lot about the segment when the Nissan entry is actually among the more attractive ones.

    Still, they need to talk to Chevy about introducing a Kicks Awd SS version.

  • avatar

    What even IS this? And only 33mpg? For something this tiny and underpowered, that is embarrassing.

  • avatar

    I have no love for the Juke, and I am GLAD they are killing it, and this is a damn site better looking, but: binning the Juke’s excellent AWD turbo powertrain seems like a real mistake. That was really the Juke’s ONLY, and I mean only, redeeming quality.

  • avatar

    With China’s Geely buying Volvo, is it any wonder how they developed the XC40? Here is Exhibit A of the design cribbing.

  • avatar

    Will you be able to upgrade the audio with Kicker amps and speakers?

  • avatar

    I expect to see commercials with foster the people singing pumped up kicks.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m hoping Nissan is smart enough NOT to use a song about the Columbine shooting to advertise a SUV but then again, I’ve had to remind gun store owners here in Canada that, considering their industry, having a “back to school” sale is a really bad idea.

  • avatar

    Not having the option of AWD seems like a lost opportunity, similar to the Toyota C-HR. At least I think that’s what it’s called.

    This couldn’t have just been called the second gen Juke? Why? These marketing types seem to think starting over every model generation is necessary to ditch a damaged brand, when it’s a colossal waste of sunk resources. But of course, it provides them job security…

  • avatar

    Yay! A FWD and CVT-only tiny wagon with 7 inches of ground clearance!

    -said nobody, ever.

    • 0 avatar

      except most of the EU, India, China, Brazil, Russia and every other developing nation out there.

      Even in the West there’s a shocking number of people who have no issue 4 abreast in a CX3 or a Dualis/Qashkai/Rouge Sport whatever so I guess subcompact CUVs are the new hotness.

      I personally dont see a need as I can afford the Xtrail/Rogue/Pathfinder size but I can see how they’re too big for many urban areas.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      By contrast, the Kia Niro is a much better buy, with mileage in the 50 mpg range and lots of interior room.

      But I have no need for AWD, even in the hilly Pittsburgh area. AWD is useful here about 3 days a year. The rest of the time it just burns up more tires and gas.

    • 0 avatar

      Older and retired folks will definitely be among those that will welcome such a vehicle. The don’t want or need AWD because they live somewhere it never snows or the snow comes and goes quickly enough that they just stay home. Or like my Mother in Law, call her daughter and then yours truly becomes her chauffeur if she really needs to be somewhere.

      She greatly approves of the C-Max I just picked up to be the wife’s commuter and our general runabout. All of a sudden she is saying that she wants one when she is ready to give up her truck. She says it is so easy to get in and out of. As long as it isn’t herky jerky, or bang on shifts she wouldn’t know or care if it was a CVT, umpteen speed conventional automatic, or automated manual.

      So yeah there is a market for these in the US with the “right height” seating and reasonable fuel economy.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand this thing, but I’m sure Nissan will sell them by the rail car/truck load. At least it appears to have amber turn signals, unlike its new sibling the Qashqai.

    I guess these things can mosey along in the left lane behind/in front of a parade of Slowbarus.

    • 0 avatar

      Enough with the amber turn signals. I don’t care if they are amber, red, purple, pink, or rainbow stripped if people would actually use the darned things. Since they mostly don’t, the minor advantage of one color over another matters not in the slightest.

      • 0 avatar

        Maybe you don’t care, but some people do. Red = brake light to me. Other countries require something besides red (aka Amber) so I don’t understand why manufacturers build red into the turn signal component of the tail light assemblies for the US/Canada. Makes no sense.

        So yeah, it matters. What might be meaningless to you isn’t meaningless to others.

  • avatar

    Atrocious. Will do nothing for Nissan’s reputation. The Juke was one of Nissan’s only vehicles which actually attempted to have any personality whatsoever, and in the underpowered CVT FWD-only crossover ranks at least the CHR oozes “Japan”, this oozes “developing world” and “vehicular equivalent of metamucil”. I can guarantee every single one sold will jam its brakes on whenever the road has any curve whatsoever, just like every Rogue already does. And the fact it has the worst name of any vehicle sold on this continent is just icing on the cake.

    If this was sold as the Mitsubishi Mirage Cross it’d be OK. It’s depressing enough to earn that badge.

  • avatar
    SOF in training

    I don’t know what the size difference might be, but it looks like it uses all the hard points of a Leaf.

    • 0 avatar
      Southern Perspective

      Kicks is on the Nissan V platform; March/Micra, current Versa and Versa Note, but with a longer, 103.2 inch, wheelbase. Much roomier than the Trax. Enclosed hatchback area is the size of a real trunk in many compact cars.

      Expect Kicks S to be around 18,000 USD or so.

      An AWD version is planned for later in 2018.

  • avatar

    Hmmm kicks’ out Juke’s turbo of 188-215 hp. And torque-vectoring awd. And will that be rear drum brakes?

    Does Kicks Nismo have a Motorsport tone to it?

  • avatar

    YAH! The return of the hatchback continues…just don’t call them that.

  • avatar

    “And don’t it seem like
    Kicks just keep gettin’ harder to find
    And all your kicks ain’t bringin’ you peace of mind”

    Paul Revere & the Raiders

  • avatar

    “The Kicks is the only way Americans can take home any part of a Nissan Micra…”


    If Americans yearn to experience the Canuck Micra, they can get a much better sense of the car just by getting into a Versa sedan or Note.

    They’re all built on the same platform in the same Mexican factory and share major components: same HR16DE engine, manual transmission, shared suspension bits, brakes, many shared interior bits (seats, cluster, dashboard bits etc).

  • avatar

    When I hear Kicks I think of wannabe trendy 1990s teenagers who are buying the newest ugly shoes because everybody’s got to have them. I will say that is the first Nissan in quite awhile that hasn’t given me the urge to have a personal protein spill. It’s much better than the Maxima pad and its slightly small brother the Altima.

    There’s nothing here that I would want, but I imagine it’ll serve its purpose in the same way the micro-SUVs from Toyota, Honda, Mazda, GM and Ford serve theirs. Tastefully boring is much better than tastelessly garish.

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