By on July 7, 2018

Some of you might have read our first-drive review of the subcompact Nissan Kicks out of simple curiosity, knowing that the vehicle would never find its way into your driveway. And that’s fine.

For myself and others, the Kicks holds more interest simply because of what it is — a lightweight, unpretentious, fuel efficient addition to the crossover space with a very low starting price. Low enough to serve as an effective alternative to thrifty compact or subcompact car buyers. North of the border, that entry price ($17,998, eight bucks more than U.S. MSRP) is four grand less than a base, front-drive, three-cylinder Ford EcoSport. In the States, it’s two grand less.

With the front-drive-only Kicks now available in both countries, its sales performance will be interesting to watch. Actually, it already is.

The first U.S. Kicks sales showed up on Nissan’s ledger in June — 563 of them. Just how high the model’s volume will reach in the coming months remains to be seen; keep in mind that Nissan sold over 37,000 Rogues and nearly 27,000 Altimas last month.

In Canada however, the Kicks seems to have gotten an earlier start. Nissan Canada recorded six Kicks sales in May, perhaps on the last selling day of the month, but it’s June’s performance that gave your author pause. When it debuted, I surmised that this model would, in many cases, swing low-end Nissan buyers from a car to a crossover. We’re more heavily taxed up here, and fuel prices are nearly double that of the United States. But we love light trucks just as much as the Americans, if not more.

2018 Nissan Kicks, Image: Nissan

In June, the first full month of Kicks sales, Nissan Canada unloaded 609 of the little crossovers. For comparison, the automaker also sold 612 Altimas, 159 Maximas, 688 Versa Notes, 618 Pathfinders, 377 Frontiers, and 684 Titans last month. While one month isn’t much to go on, it’s amusing to see the Kicks approach the EcoSport’s volume so quickly (the EcoSport went on sale at the beginning of the year, selling 641 units in Canada in May. June figures remain unavailable).

How many C-HRs did Toyota Canada sell in June? 679. Other Japanese subcompact rivals had a better month, as both the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 posted numbers well in excess of 1,000 units. Again, it remains to be seen if the Kicks’ bargain proposition earns it a spot in the upper echelon of the segment, especially in a market where available all-wheel drive is the norm, and with good reason. For would-be Versa and Sentra buyers, however, that missing rear differential might not matter in the least.

[Images: Nissan]

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70 Comments on “As Sales Begin, the Nissan Kicks Will Be an Interesting Vehicle to Watch...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Baby Boomers will snatch these up. Inexpensive with easy ingress/egress. Bingo hall parking lots will be packed with them. They’re like enclosed golf carts. B-29! Bingo!

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      As a BB I reject your assumption.

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        I’m a Boomer too. I just call ‘em like I see ‘em.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          The only reason I’ll agree with you is that now the bingo lots are filled with those little Buick Encores at $30K a pop, now the less financially secure boomer has a choice, but I still think this is a nice alternative for the young first time car buyer who would normally be stuck in some cheap, nondescript penalty box

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            If Janis Joplin was still alive do you think she will be singing.

            Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Buick Encore
            My friends all drive Chevys, but I want something more
            Worked hard all my life, I’m done going on tour.
            Oh Lord wont you buy me a Buick Encore

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Yup. Boomers love cheap utility vehicles like this. They are prime buyers of the Soul, the Encore, the Scion xB, etc. Seems like anytime those dumb product planners at the automakers think they’ve nailed the youth market, they end up nailing the up middle aged market instead.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        dwford..you are correct with your assessment regarding the youth market. I remember working for a Nisan store in the early 00’s. The Xterra came out and was supposed to be the youth, edgy outdoorsy guy/gal rig. Talking with the Nissan rep, he was convinced of it. As the F&I guy at the store, I pointed out the one flaw in their thinking. The edgy, outdoorsy ski/climbing bum doesn’t have any money….

        Fast forward almost 2 decades since introduction, the Xterra is now the vehicle of choice for the above mentioned crowd, only now the rig has some dents, faded paint and 145k on the odo.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Today’s Toronto Star included a ‘rave’ review of the Kicks by one of its oldest writers.

    He claims that is is the almost perfect vehicle for first time new car buyers.

    I see it as potentially our perfect 3rd vehicle. The current favourite choices being the Kicks and the Soul.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      The Nissan Kicks will sell like hotcakes. The Kicks will be the new Millennial conveyance of choice. At its price point it bundles in a ton of new tech and features that no competitor can match. The Kicks lacks any reasonable horsepower, but that’s not why people will buy it. I predict a hit – provided they sized the fuel tank properly and didn’t use a 3 gallon jug like Nissan did with the Juke…

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I hope they have enough production capacity to meet demand. Otherwise…

    “Kicks just keep getting harder to find.”

    (With apologies to Paul Revere and the Raiders)

  • avatar
    scott25

    This is the true turning point of crossovers becoming the default vehicle form, since they’re all been prohibitively expensive compared to their car platform-mate, until now. This is the first instance of a manufacturer not being greedy and pricing it reasonably compared to the Versa, and now the average millennial will be able to afford it.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    In the old days you could buy a wagon with simulated wood panel styling, today it seems the growing trend is to offer wagons with simulated SUV capability styling.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I must say, given the choice, I’ll take the latter over the former.

    • 0 avatar
      Lightspeed

      ” simulated SUV capability styling” Brilliant! Lack of AWD will not be an issue, most CUV drivers couldn’t tell you if their car has AWD. The Kicks has hit a sweet=spot of price and style. I hate CUVs but this thing looks just right for its market.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    They will sell and lease as many of these as they wish to make. I’m a hatchback lover, but I’ve grudgingly accepted that this is what a hatchback is today. Just for, um, kicks, if I had one I’d rebadge it with Datsun emblems.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I’d like this a whole lot better if it offered 4WD, as it stands for me it’s a no, but lots of folks don’t need or want 4WD and will love this

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    The Datsun B211.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Does this replace that really ugly little thing, Juke?

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    Nissan Canada is a funny creature. We get the Micra that our neighbours to the south don’t and it starts at under $10K. The other huge bargain in their lineup is the 370Z which starts at under $30K Cdn just like it does in the States only that works out to under $23K US. That’s an amazing deal.

    The Kicks looks good and again the price is definitely right. Too bad they won’t offer it with a stick but then I highly doubt its target audience gives a damn. The Kicks is for chicks and that’s not meant to be demeaning in any way, shape or form.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Well if little $#!+boxes are your thing…

    • 0 avatar
      "scarey"

      Art- buddy ! What are YOU doing here ?

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Meh, nobody banned me…but I still have a bottle of Blanton’s so don’t count your chickens yet…The Aussie Buffoonery may yet get me tossed. Plus, much like deadweight takes every post to remind everyone how bad GM and Ford are, I want to remind everyone how much better the content was when Bertel Schmitt was EIC.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Then again, this article is at least about a vehicle, though strangely I read it and all I know about said vehicle is that it is FWD only. I feel informed.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          That’s because they already did a full review here https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2018/06/2018-nissan-kicks-first-drive-commuting-value/

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Ah good review. Good to see I was correct…a true crapbox. only 400 extra pounds vs a B13 Sentra, which I could get 20 more HP in. The penalty box is back!

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Lol, but at least the penalty box looks like it belongs to the cool, adventurous outdoor type instead of the struggling, just getting by office type

  • avatar

    I am too young for that thing. But thank you anyway.

  • avatar

    If forced though I would rather buy Audi the price be damned. So thank you but no. Unless you put $4000 on the hood, but then – still no. If I get that thing for free I would donate it to local nursing home.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Nissan has a healthy skepticism of the auto industry, and it’s helping their sales. I mean, how much more utility can you really squeeze from the 199th redesign of a speedometer? Are the digital numbers really that much better than analog needles? Are the dash customizations integral to the act of driving from point A to point B?

    Nissan gets it. 90% of all vehicles are driven for mundane chores. No need for AWD or superfluous power. Just keep the price in a right zone, and put the seat height at step-in level, and put some money on the hood to keep factories humming and the dealers dealing.

    Nissan could improve their reliability ratings, but they usually make it 10 years without major repairs. That’s all you can ask of an affordable commodity.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      This from the company that brought us the B13 Sentra SE-R. So glad Nissan “gets it” now. Thank God they aren’t building amazing cars like that that 25 years after the last one was built people still remember fondly and desire to own. In 25 years these will all be Chinese washing machines and nobody will she’d a tear. Today’s Chevrolet Laguna or Gen 3 Taurus.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        Context is important. In the 80s and early 90s, the Japanese auto industry was flush with American dollars. As a result, they green-lighted many projects that had no real purpose. Supercars, super sedans, sports coupes, etc.

        It was a glorious time for auto enthusiasts, but it was never going to last.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          Yet I can buy the ST twins (for now), Any manner of 5-700 hp pony cars, the once forbidden Golf R, 300 hp of Civic Type R, an STI that I didn’t sneak in from Japan and several others. If anything it may be better now, just not at your Nissan Dealer.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        There is that, but only Internet Car Nerds remember the Axxess or U12 Stanza. The SE-R was a bit odd as a car that had no Japanese equivalent. You could get a 4-door Sunny with a SR18DE, but the 2 liter required a step up to a Presea, Primera, or Bluebird.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          No, but you could get a 240 and 300Z On the same lot. There have always been cars like this…people who don’t care about cars buy most of the cars. But they used to throw the rest of us a bone. GT-R is a supercar. 370 is old and heavy.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Hey, I loved my 2nd gen 4DSC Maxima, it even remained in the family until well over 200K miles, but unfortunately Nissan hasn’t built anything I could love since

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    This thing is a rolling millinneal…full of disappointment and serving as a constant reminder of even with dial up, how much better the 90s were. The automotive equivalent of a hot Pocket.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I have been in a rental Nissan Rogue Sport for almost a week now. Base model with appearance package and AWD.

    I almost find it impossible to believe that a vehicle sits a rung below the Rogue Sport.

    I told my wife how much the vehicle costs and she said “that’s cheap”. I sort of had the opposite reaction. This is all I get for 25 grand?

    Vehicles like Kicks and Rogue Sport are basic transportation in a designer suit that would sell for razor thin margins but for a crossover shape.

    That being said, I have also had the chance to rent loaded Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. There is a lot to like about small crossovers when done right. The Rogue Sport has me a bit jaded about what the Kicks has to offer.

  • avatar
    DaJoNel

    Granted the Mazda CX-3 starts at $20,110 in the US market but it offers attractive styling, Mazda suspension, great standard features, and AWD is actually available (for $21,360). Not sure why other automakers can’t figure out that subcompact buyers might want AWD. The Kicks looks alright especially for its starting price – far better than the Juke – but if I was in the market for this segment I’d absolutely spend the extra $3,000 and get myself the CX-3 AWD.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This car interests me.

    Corrected for inflation, it’s the same price as my former 2005 xB1 – another car which was targeted at younger audiences but loved by Boomers like me.

    The only problem with the Kicks is its small interior, and there is a blurred price line between it and the much-roomier Rogue.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    The will sell a ton of these. Having said that, best Selling Corvette = 1979, Best Selling Thunderbird = 1978, and the 1974 Mustang sold more copies than any of the modern ones. This is a great vehicle for those that hate cars.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    There need to be more burnt orange cars on the road. I’ve always liked those flavours when in comes to the colour pallette.

    As to the car specifically, the proportions are visually appealing even if the car is relatively anonymous. I’m curious to see it in person to see just how small it is. The subcompact Juliet hatchbacks (a rose by any other name) seem to be a mixed bag. Some are proprtionally deficient and look goofy, while others wear their diminutive starter suits well. It doesn’t appear to be trying too hard to be something it’s not.

    It’s a 5/7ths Rogue. Nissan isnt on my radar, but the few people I know who have them seem content, aside from the 09 Altima that keeps having transmission problems post transmission replacement. A friend just bought a CPO 15 Altima and is enjoying the additional features over his 10 Altima and another friend bought a bulldog of an Infiniti QX30 (what’s the smaller crossover called? Looks vaguely melted.).

  • avatar
    el scotto

    CUV buyers, and their monies have spoken. FWD is OK if it’s cheap or has a “rugged” design. AWD is worth the extra 1-2K; with some the AWD will come on once-twice a year and I guess there are true AWD CUV’s just can’t think of any. None of the CUVs have a “twist the knob and you have 4WD” capabilities. Perhaps high-end CUVs like tiny Range Rovers have 4WD. FWD, sometime AWD will do for most of the buying public.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Any of the Jeep CUVs are “real” 4WD or are available as such. Even the fully automatic AWD in most CUVs are a definite improvement on snowy, muddy roads over 2WD, coupled with the correct tires and you’re good to go

  • avatar

    Of course the base “S” model is only available in silver, grey, black and white. Yawn.

  • avatar
    amca

    This, along with the piece about the Buick Encore above, and the re-pricing of the Chevy Traverse demonstrates that we have reached Peak SUV (or CUV, take your choice).

    At some point it was going to happen: the big margins CUVs were pulling over sedans were going to go away as more and more CUV models came into the market.

    And now it’s happened. CUV prices are dropping. The incentive to produce more and more CUV models is falling away. All those sedans we thought were toast, maybe not. Maybe they’ll survive now that the market is getting its fill of CUVs.

  • avatar
    mattwc1

    Nissan is going to sell a lot of these. Same with Hyundai with the Kona. The price difference between these and the sedan derivative are small enough the most will opt for the CUV.

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    Is there a boobie prize for winning the ugliest vehicle in the world? Japanese automakers have doubled down to win that very prize.

  • avatar
    izackl

    whoa, its 2018 and you can still buy a car with drum brakes on the rear.


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