By on April 20, 2020

2019 Nissan Kicks SV

2019 Nissan Kicks SV Fast Facts

1.6-liter four-cylinder (122 hp @ 6,300 rpm, 114 lb-ft 4,000 rpm)

Continuously-variable automatic transmission, front-wheel drive

31 city / 36 highway / 33 (EPA Estimated Rating, MPG)

7.7 city, 6.6 highway, 7.2 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $20,250 (U.S) / $21,998 (Canada)

As Tested: $22,700 (U.S.) / $22,418 (Canada)

Prices include $1,045 destination charge in the United States and $1,942 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

As long as individual private vehicles exist for sale, there will be a place for cheap commuter vehicles.

They don’t get much love, few aspire to buy them, but they exist to make sure that even those on a budget can get wheels that aren’t used.

Nissan’s Kicks is one such vehicle, and a pretty good one at that — as long as it sticks to its narrowly-defined mission.

Like other commuter vehicles, such as the boxy Kia Soul or Hyundai Venue (or predecessors like the Nissan Juke), the Kicks is aimed at the city dweller. The one who needs something with hatchback utility that’s easy to park more than an engaging driving experience.

Nissan’s press materials call the 1.6-liter four-cylinder that makes 122 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque “sporty” and well, that’s just press release spin of the highest order. It ain’t sporty. Good enough to get you around town, sure, but that’s about it. It does go about its business quietly, which is nice.

2019 Nissan Kicks SV

The same release called the suspension “responsive,” and that is only true in the most technical sense – the front independent strut/stabilizer bar and rear twist-beam and twin-tube shock suspension does respond to the road.

It actually does respond well enough for commuting – the ride is stiff but not unpleasant, and the Kicks doesn’t feel discombobulated in a corner. But “responsive” as written in the release seems to promise a level of sportiness that’s not offered here – and frankly, not expected in this type of car.

In other words – the Kicks doesn’t suck to drive. Not at all. But it’s programmed for urban driving, and that’s what it’s best at. It’s not going to feel at home if you challenge it further.

Which is why the steering is light and artificial. Kicks customers aren’t going to care, if they even notice. And hey, it makes parallel parking easier.

2019 Nissan Kicks SV

The digital pages you’re reading are aimed at enthusiasts, and I’m an enthusiast, so it’s hard not to judge vehicles by that metric, but you and I know most of the marketplace isn’t aimed at car lovers. Rather, it’s aimed at car buyers.

[Get new and used Nissan Kicks pricing here!]

Still, even those who don’t know what CVT stands for want to know how every vehicle, no matter how plebian, drives. If they didn’t, I’d not have this job. And you’d have to find another way to waste your employer’s time.

2019 Nissan Kicks SV

So that’s why I’m describing how the Kicks drives, despite the fact that most buyers won’t care. It’s perfectly competent for its mission and money. It’s not a box of sadness, but it’s also not secretly fun, the way a Kia Soul can be.

Speaking of CVTs, that’s the only transmission here, and it mostly avoids the usual problems associated with continuously-variable automatics.

Nissan serves up the Kicks in three trims, and the one detailed here was a mid-range (also, the volume trim) SV. That trim includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic climate control, keyless entry and starting, 17-inch wheels, tonneau cover, remote start, and satellite radio as standard.

The only options were premium paint, premium audio, and carpeted floor and cargo mats. So the base price of $20,250 went to just $22,700 with those three options and the $1,045 destination fee.

That’s not bad for a small, boxy crossover. It’s not particularly fun, but that’s okay. Sometimes competent transport at a value price is all one needs.

[Images © 2020 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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41 Comments on “2019 Nissan Kicks SV Review – Commuter Special...”


  • avatar
    gtem

    Favorite feature: unpainted rear bumper. Wish the front was too for ultimate urban commuter status. Throw in some beefy 65+ sidewall tires on silver painted steelies and a stick shift while I’m dreaming.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      gtem, if you’re dreaming about this thing you really are bored. Time for a walk ;-)

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Haha touche. The general size/shape and then the unpainted bumper reminded me of my ’90 Civic wagon, (which had silver finished steelies wrapped in 175/70R13 dounuts).

        You’re right a subcompact crossover is I think literally the last thing I’d ever find myself shopping for, ever.

  • avatar
    EGSE

    Tim Healey, are you for real? This is your third “review” of a 2019 vehicle in 2020. Do we need to take up a collection to buy you a current calendar to remind you what YEAR it is? Or is TTAC **that far down** the pecking order in press car rotations? And as far as your statement about being an “enthusiast”, the bio on the masthead hints you don’t even OWN a car. How “enthusiast” is that? It’s not like being an obstetrician; an OB doesn’t have to own a uterus to be an OB, but the other “enthusiasts” here are waaay ahead of you as they actually DO OWN CARS. So stop trying to fake it.

    “I’d not have this job.” We can only hope this comes sooner rather than later. While there’s still something worthwhile to salvage at TTAC.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Tim Healey, are you for real? This is your third “review” of a 2019 vehicle in 2020. Do we need to take up a collection to buy you a current calendar to remind you what YEAR it is? ”

      Maybe you should inform Nissan and its dealers while you’re at it, because a cursory inventory search shows a ton of 2019 Kicks available near me. And the 2020 is basically unchanged, so I’m not sure what you’re all bent out of shape over.

      ““I’d not have this job.” We can only hope this comes sooner rather than later. While there’s still something worthwhile to salvage at TTAC.”

      As the Brits might say, “where’s yours, then?”

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      My apologies to Tim and to all here. That was overly harsh and uncalled for. Mea Culpa.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Nice of you to say that, there’s a couple of small sites I frequent that have literally shut down because of so little content. I DO appreciate TTAC for at least offering-up something to talk about :)

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      In the sake of transparency…I am writing up some 2019s I tested a while back while 2019s are still for sale. I got a bit off track on getting some posted due to travel and other internal projects that took precedent. There will be 2020s coming soon, don’t worry.

      And yeah, I don’t own a car. But I drive 50+ vehicles in a year and have been at this for a decade plus. The only reason I don’t own a car is because I live ina part of Chicago where owning a car is not necessary and renting a second parking space is beyond my budget.

      I saw the mea cupla below. No worries, but I figured an explanation coudln’t hurt.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        I grew-up in Chicago and knew plenty of people without cars. Outside of NYC Chicago is about the only other American city where you could go your whole life without owning a car. I could never do it, but I know people can

        • 0 avatar

          I know lots of folks who live in NYC and don’t have a car. There are a few who do, most leave it at a vacation home or parental home. During my time on the UWS, we lucked into a space on a commercial property, but while I know people who do own cars and street park, it’s a real burden in Manhattan….Private Parking is upward of $600 per month in many places, and the bike nuts have succeeded in getting much of the regular parking removed for “traffic calming”….If you drive in NYC, it’s a no holds barred lux or sports car, garaged, or a beater. Total beater.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    These subcompact crossovers are multiplying at such a furious pace that it is hard to keep them all straight. And I think the proper collective term for this market segment should be “sh!tbox”.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Well, the Sentras aren’t selling, so making a crossover out of the platform, in the hope it will sell, is the next step.

      Tim should have pointed out how slow this vehicle is. The horsepower/torque rating of 125/115 mated to a CVT doesn’t do much. It’s been rated by others at 9.7 seconds 0-60. My old compact 1995 Altima could beat that by about a half second.

      It’s similar to most vehicles in its class, but those who are buying it as a commuter car may have another vehicle in the compact or midsize class that’s much quicker, and they will surely notice the Kick is s.l.o.w, so it should have been mentioned. It’s also noisy, but not all competitors in the class are as loud, so that should have been mentioned too.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Nissan needs to be leaning more in this direction: cheap, basic, cheerful transportation. They do it pretty well. This is an honest value and a good vehicle for the price, which should be at least a couple thousand off MSRP if you get past the foursquare. In my last visit to a Nissan dealership, it was the thing that impressed me the most (far more than the Leaf we were there to test-drive).

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Aside from the fact that the Kicks has a wee bit more cargo room than a Hyundai Venue, I can’t see a reason to pick the Nissan over the Hyundai.

    Imagine saying that in 1986!

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I came within an hour of actually buying a Kicks 1-1/2 years ago, but the trade estimator was gone for the day and I never returned.

      Now that the Venue and Seltos are out, I’d want to evaluate them as well.

      I thought the Kicks was pretty nice. The deals are probably even better now, because Nissan and pandemic.

      Not mentioned in the review: the 360 camera option is really effective.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    It’s funny the Versa was the vehicle of choice for the women in my office. There were three of them of various vintages at one time. The latest young woman to join the team bought a Kicks. When you see them side by side you realize the Kicks is just a Versa with the sheet metal hiked a bit on the sides and worse visibility. It is no taller or larger than the Versa!

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    ““I’d not have this job.” We can only hope this comes sooner rather than later.”

    Douchy thing to say.

    Tim, I greatly enjoy your reviews. Keep them coming.

  • avatar
    volvo

    What am I missing $22K and 33 mpg for this!

    Other choices with similar or better MPG

    Honda Fit $17K
    Toyota Corolla Hatch $21K
    Toyota Yaris $18K

    And those are just hatch/small CUVs

    Lots of decent $17K-$23K sedans with same mileage figures. I was actually amazed that the 2020 Camry L was $24K and 34 mpg but that is a full sized car probably not great for a crowded city.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      There’s the “elevated seating thing” that many of us enjoy. Tall and lanky, sedan seating is much less preferred than sitting upright. It’s a trade-off I’ll gladly make for diminished handling and slightly less mpgs.

      • 0 avatar
        make_light

        Thank you for saying this! The difference in comfort for people with builds like us is HUGE. Hate the assumption that anyone who buys a crossover is a soulless follower.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          If you drive a CUV/SUV regularly the hardest thing for me is driving a standard car. I feel as though I’m laying down with my butt scraping along the pavement. It’s funny how you get used to things

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      My 17 Golf Wolfsburg was around 22k sticker and lacks for nothing in options (I’m fine with the V-tex “pleather” interior). Going for an automatic SE would have been another grand probably. I paid around 20k for it. Mine is 1.8T powered (175hp), 18 and on have the 1.4T at 150hp, it’s a fine engine but not the 1.8.

      I put 700 miles on it a few weeks ago and it was great for it. 35mpg, comfortable for a small car. It doesn’t seem like you could get that enjoyment or versatility out of a Kicks for the same money.

      I do see the attraction in higher ride height with small crossovers though.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    So much hate for small CUVs here.

    1) A hatch is more versatile than a trunk. Therefore a CUV or a hatch over a sedan/coupe.
    2) Americans don’t buy hatches in volume. Canadians do. But being a small market, many manufacturers won’t manufacture/import a vehicle just for the Canadian market. So there are less hatches to choose from.
    3) The average age of a new vehicle purchaser is much older than the average for the driving population. The trend among sedans/coupes/hatches is to design them with low sloping rooflines. And to design them with low floors. This results in making access/egress difficult. Both front and rear.
    4) If the CUV has increased ground clearance, it improves its capabilities in the winter. Low ground clearance and even lower front air dams are a pain in the snow. And it increasingly they also present problems going up/down steep driveways.
    5) With the number of trucks, pick-ups and SUVs on the road, the increased ride height of a CUV helps to improve visibility. Not around these vehicles but you have less ‘blowback’ of rain/snow from their wheels onto your windshield. And with a higher windshield, less chance of stonechips.
    6) The size of these small CUV’s is ‘just right’ for singles, young and retired couples. Particularly for urban driving and parking.

    So the market is not just working on emotion here. There are rational reasons for selecting such a vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      gasser

      +1 on all of the above.
      As a 72 y.o. retiree, I don’t need to carry children, grandchildren, huge warehouse size anything and my 2 dogs are each under 20 pounds. I do, however want something small, but not death trap sized, with decent outward visibility and cheap to buy and maintain. Since we only drive about 300-400/month, gas mileage is not the biggest factor. I do need to be able to get onto freeways without risking life and limb. As my income has contracted, so has my perspective on vehicle sizes. What used to be full sized is now mammoth; what used to be smallish but OK (Hyundai Tucson size) is now a bit too big; what just to be tiny is now “right sized” and fits in crowded parking lots. Again, I appreciate not having to crouch down on entry and also being able to see out of the side and rear view windows.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Tell me why anyone would want this over a civic or Corolla hatchback? 170 or 180 hp is too powerful to handle? Can’t bend down the extra couple inches to get into a “car”? A Nissan CVT is too alluring?

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      CUVs have the market’s preferred ride height and are perceived as more expensive/premium/status-y. That’s it.

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        It’s funny how reviews for the corolla hatch all criticize it for not enough power, but somehow this class of vehicles gets a pass when they generally have about 30 or 40 hp less. ( And no, I don’t own a corolla!)

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I don’t get why this class is so low-powered either.

          I’m not saying they should have 300hp, but they all seem to purposely knee-capped compared to the rest of the lineups.

          • 0 avatar
            volvo

            Probably because in much of the world cars are regulated and taxed, through any number of schemes, from the stage of manufacturing to yearly registration based on hp and fuel economy.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          People want the Corolla hatch to be a hot hatch, but it’s not. Nobody is expecting these to be “hot.”

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        That was a very reasoned answer, dal. Clearly you have no place here. :.D

  • avatar
    BlueEr03

    It looks nice, but they should have kept the drivetrain from the juke when they replaced it.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’d be interested to know what the actual hip point difference is between this, a Rogue Sport, a Sentra, and the old Versa Note.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Get ready for a sea change in consumer preferences. Price and MPG, the two arguments against SUVs, are about to become the two most important factors for 80% of those whose need for transportation absolutely forces them to buy a new vehicle. For those who are lucky enough to have money when the pandemic ends, boy, are you gonna be able to get the Tahoe of your dreams for dirt cheap. As for vehicles like this, effective immediately they’re no longer viable as the bottom end of a mass carmaker’s product line. Which is why the US makers are about to show that Wall Street gutted them by shoving them out of the sedan business.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Which is why the US makers are about to show that Wall Street gutted them by shoving them out of the sedan business.”

      uh-huh. because zero/negative profit margin sedans are suddenly going to become profitable because people with barely any money might buy those instead.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      Yes, MPG are sure to be the deciding factor in a vehicle purchase when virtually every station east of the Rockies is under $2 a gallon and huge areas of the country are under $1.50.

      It would certainly be foolish not to consider a $5/week difference in fuel costs when deciding on a $25-30k purchase, right?

  • avatar
    spookiness

    When these came out, I expected to see tons of them. But where I am, in VA adjacent to Washington DC, I dont’ recall seeing very many. Where I am the Hyundai Kona seems far more popular. The one Kicks I recall is one in the copper color like shown, young woman ran a redlight in front of me (MD tags, of course) and almost clipped my front bumper.

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    If anyone is enthralled enough by a Nissan Kicks to take out a 72 month loan for one, I hope that poor sap never turns off the stability control by accident.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree about the height, visibility, and ease of ingress and egress on the cuv along with the size. A compact crossover is like full size to me as I have gotten older. Even my midsize crew cab pickup which is small compared to full size is gigantic to me. I wouldn’t mind having a choice of a true compact pickup with no more than an extended cab–don’t need or want anymore than that.

  • avatar

    There are two car markets….the one where your fingerprint on a hood can be a $7500 option, and another where “What is the least crappy new car for my money ?” The glory of used cars is that the B&B can keep that used car 400k miles going for $12 but for the great unknowing a few inconsequential check engine lights in a row can destroy a household budget. If you can do a few basic things there is no fear, but you do realize a lot of people barely own pliers ???

    Cars like this are sold to folks who have had too many used cars…they know they could get a much nicer Accord, etc for the money or even a bottom CPO BMW stripper if they go for the long payments, but for three years JUST WANT IT TO START-and that means new.

    Since we are past the world of Ring Time, max HP, whining about the ICE, or the bend of a fender at this point, we are like McD’s – Super Size me. The food doesn’t improve, but more of it ! That is why the world is trucks, be it Escalade or…this. Toss in the un maintained roads we suffer, which tend to mirror the quality of the area they are in and that cheap CUV will have a roach like survival rate which would crush a butterfly’s wings….

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    My wife’s dad bought one of these when they came out. The higher hip point and roof are good for a very tall old guy with a bad back. All the safety nannies are good for an old guy who can’t turn his head like an owl to see what’s behind him. (He still managed to crunch it a wee bit, which is truly an accomplishment.) The MPG isn’t Prius level by any means, but it’s certainly better than his old SUV. The value for money is rock-solid, though of course the dealer gave him an anal-probe of a loan.

    This category of vehicle sells to young people buying their first new car, and old people buying their last one.

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