By on June 5, 2018

Managing Editor Tim Healey is currently behind the wheel of a new, subcompact 2018 Nissan Kicks in the unlikely and extravagant first drive locale of Southern California, but you aren’t allowed to know how it drives until Friday. Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, you’re allowed to know exactly how much Nissan’s entry-level crossover costs, and guess what? There’s a value proposition at work. Mind you, there’s no all-wheel drive availability with this little model, which could take it right off many buyers’ must-have list, but Nissan clearly wants to appeal to the cost-conscious consumer who shuns steep and muddy terrain and doesn’t live in the depths of the snow belt.

Starting price for a base Kicks S is $17,990, or eight bucks less than its Canadian counterpart. Nissan has a habit of pricing certain models in the same range on both sides of the border, and the Kicks is no exception. That U.S. MSRP excludes a $975 destination fee, which brings the total cost to $18,965.

Riding atop the same platform as the thrilling Versa, all Kicks carry a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder powering the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission. Output is 125 horses and 115 lb-ft of torque. If you’re feeling underwhelmed, remember that the Kicks tips the scales at a feathery 2,649 pounds. This helps the Kicks attain an EPA-estimated 36 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg in the city, for a combined 33 mpg. That’s economy car territory.

Base S buyers stand to receive a 7-inch touchscreen, standard forward automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning, a backup camera, and Siri as a passenger. Moving up to the volume SV trim delivers another label of convenience goodies, including a proximity key, blind spot monitoring, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and a drive-assist display. SV buyers also see 17-inch wheels.

Springing for the decently equipped mid-level SV will set you back $20,665 after delivery, which is $215 more than the base, front-drive Hyundai Kona SE but $2,370 less than the base, front-drive Toyota C-HR LE. Interestingly, the mid-level Kicks carries the exact same price as a base Honda HR-V LX, though that front-drive model can be had with a manual transmission for the few people still enamoured by the idea.

Suffice it to say, the Kicks’ base MSRP undercuts the competition by a significant margin. Should you want jazzier looks (but no extra power), there’s an SR model that adds foglights, a rear spoiler (very important in a vehicle of this class), LED headlight accents, sport seats with orange contrast stitching, and leather protecting the steering wheel and shift knob. $21,265 takes that one home.

Image: Nissan

Nissan’s clearly playing for the urban Millennial who just got their first professional job. Need further proof? Well, the Kicks Color Studio offers the opportunity to plaster the vehicle’s lip finisher, side mirror caps, door handle covers, and rear roof spoiler with any of 12 colors, thus ticking the “self-expression” box. There’s also a video on Nissan’s consumer site showing four young, sexy people dancing with the Kicks in a trendy indoor industrial space, bringing to mind Chrysler’s notorious “cocaine factory” ad for the Turismo Duster.

If your grandmother’s young enough to own a C+C Music Factory CD, this could be the subcompact front-drive crossover for you, Nissan implies.

Keep an eye out for the review on Friday morning.

[Images: Nissan]

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56 Comments on “$17,990: One Hell of a Price for You to Get Your Kicks...”

  • avatar

    Why not just buy a car?

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Please send a telegram to Mr. Healey and request that he evaluate the ease of ingress/egress. My old-man achy back is interested, and we all know that a good portion of buyers will be senior citizens.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Agree 100%. My mother can no longer easily enter/exit her sedan. Wants something easier to get into and out of, that is not too big (or too small) and provides decent visibility.

      Relative skid pad performance, touch pad controls, etc are not a requirement.

    • 0 avatar

      “good portion of buyers will be senior citizens”

      This is exactly the problem for Buick

      • 0 avatar

        The average Buick buying age of 58 years old is just short of the average for Honda CR-V at 60 years, 61 years for Forester, and 60 for Outback.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      It was unremarkable one way or the other. But I am still sorta young (or so I tell myself) and have yet to experience the leg/back issues that many folks deal with.

  • avatar

    This may be the “crossover” that pries all the old timers out of their Kia Souls or Scion xBs.

  • avatar

    I’m trying to be positive today so I’ll say something nice.

    I’m loving that burnt orange paint in the 1st picture. I don’t like it on this CUV but it’s a great colour.

  • avatar

    Dead ringer for the new Volvo XC40, and I love the color. Shame it will probably be the typical cheap and nasty Nissan interior with a soulsucking CVT.

    And how ever did we manage for the first 90 or so years of the automobile when basically nothing had AWD? For a long time most cars were, perish the thought, RWD! How did all of us north of the Mason-Dixon line manage without freezing to death in the ditches we inevitably and constantly slid into all winter long????

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      For 2x you can have the XC40, which is actually on my watch list.

      Agreed on AWD. I’ve managed to navigate Pittsburgh’s hills and 44″ of annual snow all these years without AWD. I can’t make it to the office about 1 day a year due to snow. For the rest, I don’t need the mileage-sucking, performance-eating, extra cost and extra tire wear of AWD.

      But here’s one answer: Today’s culture demands that the winter roads look like summer roads, and so in this area frame-eating salt is applied like there’s no tomorrow.

      • 0 avatar

        I have no doubt at all that the XC40 is at least 2x better, and I don’t even like modern Volvos very much.

        You and me both. For the vast majority AWD is yet another tax on the stupid. If conditions are that bad, stay off the roads. If you have a job such that you simply MUST travel, then you need more capability than a silly little thing like this can give you.

        At least cars are FAR more rust resistant than they once were. When I was a kid you were doing well to get 5 years out of anything Japanese, maybe 8 out of an American car, and 15 or so for a European (not Italian or French) one.

        • 0 avatar

          krhodes1, if someone knows in the morning that there will be snow on the commute, staying home for the day is one option, but if you leave for work in the morning and driving conditions are fine, only to leave work in the evening and its snowed, or what’s unfortunately sometimes the case and management are dolts about being willing to let employes leave early to beat a storm. In that situation, you need either AWD or some form of traction control to mitigate the road conditions. On the main point, this Nissan seems like a less-expensive MINI, is prettier than the awful Fiat 500, and enjoys a longer list of dealers than either Fiat or MINI. If Nissan has sorted out the CVT transmission at this point, this little car could be what lots of buyers want.

          • 0 avatar

            IN snow …”you need either AWD or some form of traction control to mitigate the road conditions.”

            No, you need snow tires, which are far more important in winter driving than is AWD or traction control.

          • 0 avatar

            What Brumus Said, and others. I had a RWD BMW for 13 years, and swapped out snows every winter. Bonus was that the snows were NOT low profile design, and I’d wait till potholes were filled, so I saved a bunch of fancy-ass low profile wheels.

    • 0 avatar

      I was thinking, thinking, thinking…
      And I realized. That for this money (with discounts), you can get Renegade 1.4L turbo manual, 4WD, with few packages – Altitude, winter, blacked out wheels/grill/labels.
      Yea, MPGs will not be the same on premium fuel, but much better machine.

    • 0 avatar

      You didn’t have ad executives telling you that you need all-wheel drive and a foot of ground clearance to survive yet.

    • 0 avatar

      How? By slowing down, and using that ultimate driving tool, skills and judgement.
      I have been in the Colorado snow belt since ’77. The first three years I had RWD with snow tires on the rear.
      The next twenty years I drove Fwd and all season tires.
      Ran off the road twice:
      Once due to the handling dynamics of the ’82 Citation that for some reason had a very loose and quick to snap out and around rear end and I went off road backwards. (I should note this happened once again on a rainy road too.) None of the other four FWD cars I have experienced have done that.
      Once due to visibility in a ground blizzard where the visibility was suddenly limited to about half of the hood.

    • 0 avatar

      When your CUV has just under 400 lb-ft of torque you’ll be liking AWD for merging into traffic even it is not wet out.

      • 0 avatar

        I realized that AWD was great if you had excess power. I misjudged the power curve on a GT-R once, and felt a pull from the front and two flashes of a traction control light. I saw how those Cars and Coffee Mustangs get that way :0

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      My Outback has only seen one dusting of snow in 5 years, but man is it a beast in our frequent downpours. AWD serves numerous purposes…

  • avatar

    Best non-two-door styling on a new Nissan. Who’d have thought?

  • avatar

    Ew, that smell. Don’t you smell that smell?

    Must be what looking at that thing made me bring up.

    • 0 avatar

      good old Skynyrd tune! wouldn’t buying a Buick Encore with a turbo and no cvt be a better choice? $25k but offering $4k off down here in the South anyway.

  • avatar

    a handsome little devil at a fair price. Let the scorn begin.

  • avatar

    “That U.S. MSRP excludes a $975 destination fee”

    I thought you -always- included delivery fee in your price quotes?

    The title even lists the price without this.

    My point, 17990 is a good starting price before rebates, but 18965 not so much.

  • avatar

    Base model comes in silver, gray, white, or black. Kia Soul has an extra color available—sadly it’s green though. Kia’s door handles are painted which looks a lot better than this base model’s.

  • avatar

    I’d probably buy one of these over the EchoSport if someone forced me to buy a compact UV. Not terrible looking. I will look forward to the review on Friday.

    I had no idea that Honda offered a manual in the HR-V. Looks like there are 102 manual LX models in the U.S. according to

  • avatar

    Other than being not weird-looking, this seems like a downgrade versus the Juke.

    • 0 avatar

      It is a downgrade vs. the Juke, except for price and roominess.

      I’m predicting this will actually be able to haul a family of three or four with at least one kid in a child safety seat. That task in the Juke is difficult to pull off if either front-seat occupant is taller than about 5’9″.

      Also, the cargo area should be a lot more practical than Juke’s thanks to its squareness.

      But if you care about driving dynamics and a fun powertrain at all, then yeah, huge downgrade.

      I’m betting there’s an MR16DDT-packing version of this in the pipeline to be sold as the Kicks NISMO. Because 188-220 horsepower, depending on which tune they choose, in a sub-2,700-lb tall hatch would be fun enough as long as they get the suspension geometry right. Here’s hoping (foolishly, I know) that they bring over the Juke NISMO’s close-ratio six-speed manual transmission for that, if they build it.

  • avatar

    It’s a hatchback, not a crossover (whatever the hell THAT is).

    If that’s a “crossover,” so is my GTI.

    • 0 avatar

      You seem confused, on both statements. Wikipedia should help.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m not at all confused. Idiot buyers who are easily manipulated by professional marketing people, on the other hand, will respond to anything.

        • 0 avatar

          You’re confused.

          By its very definition, a crossover includes a) higher seating position and b) increased ground clearance.

          a) I’m not couching down into a little GTwhatever.
          b) this Nissan has 40% more ground clearance than your GTwhatever.

          This really isn’t too hard to grasp.

          P.S. The information is still on Wikipedia and it’s still free!

          • 0 avatar

            Yes, this certainly can’t be a car. Those all went extinct, along with minivans. Plus, we don’t like cars any more. We all want CUVs because they’re… like… different and stuff.

            (Please don’t take this too snarky. I’m trying to poke a little fun and I believe CUVs are more marketing than anything.)

  • 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
    Before you find out it’s too late, girl
    You better get straight
    No, but not with Kicks, you just need help, girl

  • avatar

    A jolly little ride down the mendacious road to the nirvana of autonomous driving. Droning all the way via CVT. Is Pro Pilot an option for the harried mom turning around trying to wipe goop off junior’s chin from the ice cream cone she gave him? Let us hope so. For all our sakes.

    It is a Nissan tin can for our luxury future. The lack of AWD should be no detriment. Tests of the Qashqai AWD suggest two inches of sand flummox the poor li’l thang. If you want bottom of the rung transportation in lively colors, Nissan is there to assist.

  • avatar

    Perhaps it’s the homogenization of car/cuv designs, but my first thought upon seeing the rear quarter pic was: “New Mini?”

  • avatar

    I love the style of the Kicks – I’d drive one, especially like in the top photo!

    So much improvement over the Juke – no way would I drive one of those, let alone try to see out of it.

  • avatar

    Come one, come all! Get your 12K subcompact car for 18 plus dest now at Nissan!

  • avatar

    Get ready to start seeing a lot of these.

  • avatar

    “If you’re feeling underwhelmed, remember that the Kicks tips the scales at a feathery 2,649 pounds.”

    I’m seeing a vehicle here that someone in a F-350 dually could punt, er, kick, through the uprights.

  • avatar

    These things are going to clog the streets around here the first time we get 6” to 12” of snow….”I don’t need snow tires, I’ve got the ground clearance of my Kicks”…at least it’ll be easy to get out of when it’s time to push it.

  • avatar

    I’ve never owned a Nissan product but the “Kicks” is nice enough. I would be willing to bet that this nameplate will sell well.

  • avatar

    It’s very price-competitive vs its rivals; looks much better than the over-the-top swoopy C-HR and the Tonka toy – proportioned EcoSport – and the froglike Juke. Bet it’ll sell better than the homely Juke.

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