By on August 4, 2018

Image: Autologia/YouTube

A reader sent us a link to a Mexican handling test of Nissan’s new, front-drive Kicks crossover, and one glimpse of the vehicle’s “moose test” will have you on your knees, thanking the deity of your choice for electronic safety nannies.

We all know that high-riding vehicles suffer from an inherent top-heaviness, born of a high center of gravity and compounded by long suspension travel. As SUVs grew in popularity in the ’90s, a slew of alarming videos arose showing popular SUVs flipping or riding on two wheels while swerving sharply to avoid a object, then recovering. The moose test is the ultimate test of a vehicle’s stability, and it’s the test most likely to see a tall vehicle — thanks to rapid weight transfer — roll more than it yaws. Sometimes with disastrous results.

The advent of electronic stability control was a godsend for these types of vehicles, helping overcome much of the roll and yaw, but, while it’s mandated in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, in some markets it’s absent from certain models or trim levels. Take a look at what happens without it.

Mexican auto publication Autologia posted this video as part of a comparison test that pitted the Kicks against two subcompact rivals — the Honda HR-V and Chevrolet Trax. Their long-term Kicks revealed the same positive qualities we discovered during a first drive. It’s comfortable, drives well, and has decent room.

The Kicks, despite being front-drive-only and clearly designed for the urban buyer, also boasts 7 inches of ground clearance. Thanks to a low curb weight, fuel efficiency from its 125 hp, 115 lb-ft 1.6-liter is top-notch. And how about that price

Notwithstanding all these qualities, the Kicks showed a tendency to heel over in Autologia‘s slalom test. As Mexico doesn’t insist on stability control, their tester didn’t have it. While performing the moose test at 65 km/h (40 mph), the Kicks’ vertical axis desperately wanted to get horizontal, nearly rolling the vehicle as the driver struggled to get it back on four wheels. We hope the publication’s budget covered the cost of that pair of pants.

A later, identical test performed in an uplevel Kicks with stability control was far less terrifying, though the vehicle did lift the inside rear wheel during the maneuver. In that test, the system countered enough of the roll effect to allow the rear end to slide out a bit. Better to get tail-happy than end up on your roof.

Autologia noted that the driver didn’t feel safe performing the moose test at a higher speed in the stability control-equipped Kicks.

When contacted about the test, Nissan Mexico said stability control, which is standard equipment on the top-trim model and optional in the others, would soon be found on all Kicks sold in that market. U.S.-market Kicks, of course, carry Nissan’s Vehicle Dynamic Control and traction control as standard equipment.

2018 Nissan Kicks

[Images: Nissan, Autologia/YouTube]

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46 Comments on “Be Thankful the U.S.-Market Nissan Kicks Has Standard Stability Control...”


  • avatar
    sgeffe

    I wonder if side-curtain airbags come on the base model down there, and if so, at what roll angle would they activate? I’d say that test would have come close! Wow!

    And I wonder if anything came loose on the inside when the vehicle crashed back onto the other tires! Sheesh!

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    I got two wheels off the ground driving my Bronco II many years ago, not that high though. Yikes!

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    It looks so cute up on two wheels, like a drunken puppy dog learning to roll over :)

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I’m guessing the Honda and Chevy did fine in the test? I watched the whole video, didn’t see them tested. I gather there was no dramatic video footage of them playing rolly-polly.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        John Tarus, I was looking for that too. I watch allot of their videos but they need to subtext in English for those that forgot our Spanush lessons.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        JohnTaurus, I am genuinely worried about you.

        I am on an advisory board for a prominent school district in North Oakland County, Michigan, dealing with social media addition, bullying and other adverse issues regarding same.

        I left work early on Friday to drive the approximately 270 miles with loved ones to spend a fantastic weekend in Petosky, Harbor Springs and, due to social obligations, a little bit of time at some Traverse City Film Festival meet and greets.

        I noticed that you’ve been posting non-stop from Friday night, to Saturday and Saturday night, and today (as well as most every day).

        If there was a way to say this to you privately, I would, but it’s important enough that I feel the need to tell you any way I am able; You need to socialize, get outside into nature -‘especially in nice weather (it helps to decompress and reset the brain for a healthier pattern) have real life relationships, and get the he!! off the electronic devices and get loving in the real world.

        It’s very unhealthy to post as often and and at the times and days/nights of the weeks that you do.

        I am genuinely concerned about anyone that is OCD on social media and forums in general.

        Some people need to really start thinking about deleting or severely cutting back on facebook, Twitter, and all the other social media platforms that are robbing them of enjoying the real world and real experiences and real relationships.

        I am currently involved in a non-profit organization backed by some big money donors (including the widow of a prominent and wealthy automotive Tier I supplier owner who committed suicide) that is developing cabins on the shoreline of Lake Huron in Huron County for 7 to 21 day nature camping experiences, no electronic devices allowed, and with a low or now-cost tuition for particular children and teens from poor households, to get them immersed in nature and social activities in the great outdoors, and it’s one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.

        I honestly believe that many adults could improve the quality of their lives and overall physical and mental health by also following this lead.

        After just 24 hours spent in a natural, beautiful setting, it is scientifically proven that the actual neurons in the human brain begin to regenerate and reorganize in a more healthy pattern, closer to what human physiology/neurology demands of a healthy brain, and that damage to synapse firing can be reversed in about 72 hours.

        If you are in Michigan anytime soon, preferably in the warmer months, I will line a cabin up for you at a resort that will get you to appreciate nature and decompress.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’ll take the nannies, thanks.

    The host was clearly shaken after the first test, but the addition of the helmets for the second test made me laugh.

    And what’s with positioning the press tent right at the end of the test lane? Seems like a rally course move.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    This is the same company that sells the 0 stars Datsun Go in other places, and sold what was pretty much a 1991 Sentra in Mexico and other places until 2017 when the government finally put a stop to it by requiring ABS and airbags.

    Safety is obviously a top priority at Nissan…but only if you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where safety systems are mandated and crash tests are held to a decent standard before the car can be marketed.

    (Btw, on another note, LOL at the Toyota Tacoma ad shown while I was typing that, offering rebates. So much for “they sell above MSRP because they’re that damn good” argument a few days ago.)

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      This subject has been debated here before.

      IMO, Nissan is under no obligation to provide safety equipment the local government does not require.

      If consumers want more safety equipment, they can upgrade to a different car or purchase the higher option package. Nobody is forcing consumers to buy unsafe cars, nor are the mfrs concealing how the car is equipped.

      • 0 avatar
        brn

        I don’t disagree with SCE. Safety features cost money. As long as the buyer understands what they’re buying (that’s a big “if”), it’s up to the buyer to make the decision on money vs safety.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          You would think that since all the engineering and development were already expended that making this standard across the board would add a trivial amount to the vehicle…

          So, despite what all the “let the free market decide” sheep that often post here – one has already piped up near the top – if it is not mandated, you probably will not get it. This example right here is concrete evidence. We have stability control, emission improvements, and safety improvements because the manufacturers were forced to provide it. Sure, some of this stuff found its way into expensive cars regardless, but not in the vehicles the masses buy. Then again, lately we have had plenty of examples of what our govt. thinks of the working masses…

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I didn’t say they had the obligation, only that they choose not to.

        You act as though people buying extemely cheap cars in third world countries can simply “upgrade” if they so choose. Spoken like a true elitist.

        Given the fact that the used market is so limited in many of these places, they often times have no recourse but to buy new, and they shouldn’t have to choose between protecting themselves and their families vs not making it to work at all in order to provide for themselves and their families. Other automakers found it worthwhile to make airbags and such standard worldwide. Nissan only does where its forced to by law. They have the choice, not the customer.

        It also isn’t just the airbags and other safety equipment, often times the vehicles (namely the Datsun Go and the recently deceased B13 Sentra) do absolutely horrible in crash tests. They fold up like a soda can, they do not protect the passengers whatsoever.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Hopefully you’ll never have the dilemma, but Power Windows or Stability Control? Chose one.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I did notice that the vehicle didn’t seem to be sparsely equipped, suggesting it isn’t a 0 options strip model.

        I drive an older car that would admittedly do poorly in modern crash testing (although it did extremely well in its era, one of the best if not the best performer). It does not have stability control or ABS (the latter was optional and mine doesn’t have it, the former was not invented at the time my car was built). I don’t consider it a “death trap”, as its far safer than the Datsun Go or B13 Sentra, of that I’m sure.

        If I had children, especially, I’d buy a more modern car with more safety features. As it stands, I’m perfectly fine driving it. It is pretty sad that I can go to India and buy a brand new Datsun Go that would perform far worse than my 24 year old car in a crash.

        • 0 avatar
          blizzardNW

          “You would think that since all the engineering and development were already expended that making this standard across the board would add a trivial amount to the vehicle…”

          I’d argue that it’s likely not the cost of adding such systems to every vehicle that’s limiting, it’s the manufacturer’s opportunity cost of not making them part of an optional equipment package that they can charge good money for.

  • avatar
    pdog_phatpat

    Hey remember when CR witch hunted and destroyed the Samurai back in the 80’s? Good times….

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “Hey remember when CR witch hunted and destroyed the Samurai back in the 80’s?”

      Sorry, I was too busy remembering when 60 Minutes witch hunted and destroyed Audi before that.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Sorry pdog. That was not a witch hunt at all. The vehicle was unstable. It got the bad press it deserved.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        It was also not marketed as a family vehicle, only a capable off-roader, unlike the Nissan Kicks. Nobody bought a Samurai as an alternative for an Escort wagon to take the kids to school.

        The Nissan can’t claim that its tipsy nature is due to the fact that it is intended to perform well off-road. For crying out loud, the [email protected]$Г@rd doesn’t even offer 4wd/AWD.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    At what point will the world grow up and stop using the word “nannies” to describe active safety systems?

    It only perpetuates the idea that the user is a 3-year-old who has no idea how the world works or what’s good for him, and needs an adult nearby.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      They’re “nannies” when some drivers or enthusiasts purposely disconnect them so they can hang the tail out.

      As for driver maturity, most of us aren’t trained to respond appropriately to prevent imminent crashes, slides, or rollovers. The nannies save us from a lot of trouble.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    What’s the point where a manufacturer ought to take a little responsibility for safety rather than doing only the legal minimum, especially in a developing country with few safety rules? It’s an interesting question. I have a little (VERY little) sympathy for Nissan in this case, because presumably ESP costs a bit.

    But there are cases that are just plain indefensible. For example, remember that one GM engineer bragging about how much money GM saved by removing, IIRC, a beam crucial to roof strength in the previous-gen Chevy Cruze outside of First World markets? Saved a few bucks times X number of units for GM, but passing zero dollars in savings on to the consumer, and providing no benefit to the consumer (unless of course the consumer prefers a grisly death to a survivable impact). Or the scumbags at Enterprise Rent a Car who custom-ordered their Chevy sedans without side-impact door beams because again, that would save them a few bucks times a lot of units, but at a grisly cost if some poor SOB got T-boned coming out of the airport lot, and bordering on fraud for any used buyer who of course wouldn’t be informed of this great idea. Not trying to pick on Chevy here, although it is pretty disturbing that they got caught doing this crap not once but twice.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      Enterprise purchased Impalas without side-impact airbags, not door beams. Door beams were first required under FMVSS in 1973, whereas side-impact airbags were not required at the time that the Impalas were purchased. I believe the controversy was because all other Impalas built that year had side-impact airbags, and it wasn’t obvious to used car buyers that the Enterprise Impalas lacked them.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      “I have a little (VERY little) sympathy for Nissan in this case, because presumably ESP costs a bit.”
      I don’t, because the Kicks seems to be an inherently unstable vehicle, that’s unsafe without stability control. I’m not sure how much it would cost to add stability control, but my guess would be “not much”, especially if the base car has ABS. I have no idea how the cost of stability control would compare with the cost of the deleted Cruze roof beam.

      “Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don’t do one.”
      I expect that in emerging markets, “C” is quite a bit lower than in the first world…

      • 0 avatar

        exactly. Many nations wouldn’t have any sort of real system to address this. If you want a more local example, the GM ignition switches that killed people ? The switches were fixed promptly in the Cadillac line, and never, for the Chevy line. I’m sure that fact that the average new car buyer in the Caddy showroom is a lot more expensive to kill than a base Chevy buyer…as the measure of a wrongful death suit is usually the income the person would have made over their life (only some states allow emotional damages). Kill a professional with a $200k/year income x 20 years left of a working life vs. a minimum wage worker x 20 years….

        I stopped complaining about nannies when ABS saved me in the 80’s, while driving a BMW with one of the first systems. I was in town, at 35 mph, when someone grew tired of waiting for the person ahead of them to make a legal left…and cut from behind that person. I missed them by six inches.

        I do want a switchable ability to limit or off, for snow – weather or hoonage, but yes, I want the gadgets.

        There are places where government regulation allows a longer view than most normal people have. Auto safety standards are one-I’ve had the benefit of working with expert witnesses in Auto Crash cases, and have learned quite a bit of specialized knowledge. Medical insurance is another…unless you think you know as much as an insurance actuary….the stripper plans they just allowed to be sold are that 1991 Sentra…

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      Nissan and Chevrolet are mentioned in these comments. I’m willing to bet that most manufacturers have similar differences in vehicle design between governmental/national jurisdictions. Heartless, uncaring and evil corporations? Perhaps but then the governmental/national jurisdictions share the blame also. Corporation bean-counters give us poor folks in the US de-contented vehicles all the time (compare a VW Golf from Deutschland to the same purchased in Iowa)- folks here on TTAC have commented on this several times. They cut where they are able to make money, the making of money being pretty important to any successful business. All the governmental/national jurisdictions need to do (and at very little expense) is specify that vehicles sold withing their country must conform to the same vehicle sold in (pick one: Canada, the EU, Japan, USA) for safety, economy, emissions, whatever; if these folks don’t care, I’m not really going to get upset about it.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      if you have ABS, you already have the module which does all of the work. ESC also needs a steering angle sensor (if you have EPAS you already have this too) and accelerometers along each axis. I don’t know if ESC has its own accelerometers or if it uses the ones in the RCM.

      • 0 avatar
        nvinen

        JimZ, that’s only true if the ABS also has the electronic brake force distribution (EBD) feature, which requires an individual solenoid for each wheel and an accelerometer. Otherwise, you can simply do it with wheel speed sensors and a single solenoid.

        Admittedly I would expect most ABS implementations these days to have those features. In which case, you are right, it’s just a few dollars worth of electronics and some software to provide stability control.

        Having said that, I don’t understand why the vehicle is this unstable in the first place. I think it must be poor suspension tuning. There are plenty of pre-stability control vehicles which do not risk roll over so easily.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      So, I started looking, and it looks like the base price for a Mexican market Kicks is 299,200 pesos. By my own regional comparison, a Canadian-market Kicks (which, among other things, comes with ESP and CVT standard) starts at about $18K (CAD, of course). That 299k pesos converts to nearly $21k CAD (admittedly, it’s still cheaper than the base US-market Kicks). I’m sure the economics are more complex than this, but if they can afford to sell a safer Kicks in Canada for considerably less money, it seems evil and corporate for Nissan to not make it standard in Mexico as well.

      I’d be amenable to the argument that you take whatever improvements in safety you can get, but given the pricing structures, that seems more like getting a lot more people out of Tsurus and into Versas.

    • 0 avatar
      Magnusmaster

      The Latin NCAP crash tests have numerous examples of auto makers removing beams on “global” cars made for third-world markets while passing ZERO costs savings on the consumer. Here in Argentina the affordable cars can easily cost twice as much as in Europe, but with all of the affordable cars are death traps. And sadly, most people don’t give a damn.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Mumble mumble US government nannies mumble mumble stupid rules mumble mumble damn technology mumble mumble my God give right to die if it’s my choice mumble mumble stability control bah mumble mumble Obama something something MAGA

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Mumble mumble US government nannies mumble mumble stupid rules mumble mumble damn technology mumble mumble my God give right to die if it’s my choice mumble mumble stability control bah mumble mumble Obama something something MAGA

    • 0 avatar

      Indeed. Most regulations exist for a reason, and it’s not to destroy the economy…and I find it interesting how not ONE regulation that affects my life is ever changed…it’s only ones that cost a large company money. Do I have an 80 mph interstate limit ? Can I buy no eth gas ? For many of my friends, is weed legal ? nope.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “Most regulations exist for a reason”

        there’s a segment of society who steadfastly believes they exist solely to control people.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          There is a fine line between regulations and standards that are good intentioned and those specifically used to force consumers or citizens into an ideal shared by the few.

          Is it good that safety systems like airbags are mandated? Yes. Is it good that emissions are regulated? Yes, for the good of our health.

          Is it good that MPG mandates are there to perpetuate the ideal of saving the planet, under the guise of limiting our dependence on foregin oil? No. CAFE requirements are like addressing the obesity issue by outlawing pants above a 34″ waist. If people would rather buy Explorers and Tahoes over Fiestas and Sonics, that’s their choice. They pay for that choice every time they pull into a gas station. We can limit out dependence on foreign oil by drilling more at home, but those proponents of a strict CAFE stance are against that as well, so obviously the reason given is not the actual reason for their position.

          Next, they’ll want to outlaw human-operated vehicles under the pretense of safety, when it has not been proven to be safer.

          There is a place in our society for laws and regulations, there is no place for forcing your ideals on someone using lies and manipulation to accomplish your goals.

          • 0 avatar
            bullnuke

            Bingo, you got it, John.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Very good, John

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “There is a place in our society for laws and regulations, there is no place for forcing your ideals on someone using lies and manipulation to accomplish your goals.”

            I don’t think anyone disagrees with that. The problem is that everyone wants to define for themselves where the line between those two is.

  • avatar
    Vanillasludge

    Considering the kind of driver who would buy a Kicks in the first place its wrong to omit safety equipment.

    These will be “first new cars” for new and inexperienced drivers, not driving enthusiasts who understand vehicle dynamics. The very demographic this pile appeals to is the worst one to sell an unstable vehicle.

  • avatar
    vvk

    This guy was very lucky… Very lucky.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Tall things tip over, even Ikea knows this. Wonder why all those soccer moms that keep buying these “safe” SUV/CUVs think.

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