Be Thankful the U.S.-Market Nissan Kicks Has Standard Stability Control

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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.

[Images: Nissan, Autologia/ YouTube]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Vvk Vvk on Aug 05, 2018

    This guy was very lucky... Very lucky.

  • JMII JMII on Aug 06, 2018

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

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.