2021 Nissan Kicks Receives Minimal But Appreciated Updates

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
2021 nissan kicks receives minimal but appreciated updates

Released in tandem with a series of meaningful updates to the gargantuan Armada, Nissan has decided to give the subcompact Kicks a few embellishments of its own for the 2021 model year. While not nearly as comprehensive as its three-row sibling, the updates similarly build upon the existing platform by making small changes customers were undoubtedly harping upon.

Outside, the refreshed Kicks gets a new grille, fog lamps, tail lamps, updated bumpers, and some optional LED headlights. The combination makes the model look like a baby Rogue and brings it in line with Nissan’s current design language. There are also some novel paint options with the manufacturer likewise allowing customers to order two-tone schemes with a black roof.

While hardly the first to implement dueling exterior hues, it’s nice to see the company playing into one of the segment’s more interesting trends. We wouldn’t mind seeing two-tone paint offered on more models, provided it’s done well. The Kicks also allows customers to colorize numerous components on the interior and exterior, allowing for quite a bit of visual customization.

There’s a bit less being done to the interior, though we’d imagine these changes are the ones drivers will appreciate most. Nissan has widened the armrest so it can be used by the driver or front passenger, revamped the center console (with more USB ports), swapped out some of the vents, and made some changes to the upholstery options. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard across the board as well, with a bigger 8-inch touchscreen becoming optional for some of the nicer trims. A Wi-Fi hot spot can also be had, along with keyless entry (with remote start) and a Bose premium sound system.

But the trim levels aren’t changing, nor have there been any big changes to its electronic safety suite. Nissan will continue offering the Kicks in S, SV, and SR flavors — with the latter having a premium version that defaults to the fancier options. And the default safety features still include front and rear automatic emergency braking, lane departure warnings, rear cross-traffic alerts, high-beam assist, and blind-spot warning.

Mechanical components also haven’t changed. The little crossover still has the 1.6-liter engine producing 122 horsepower and 114 pounds-feet of torque as standard equipment. While we almost expected to see all-wheel drive making an appearance, Nissan has opted to keep the Kicks exclusively front-wheel drive and has retained its continuously variable transmission.

Despite doing little for the car’s dynamics, it does allow it to retain its agreeable fuel economy figures of 31/36 mpg (city/highway).

Pricing has yet to be announced but we’ll find out before the 2021 Kicks goes on-sale date of February. We don’t anticipate the model straying from its current sticker, however. $19,000 to start sounds about right.

[Images: Nissan]

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3 of 13 comments
  • JLGOLDEN JLGOLDEN on Dec 10, 2020

    Just for fun, I rented a 2020 Kicks earlier this year. The cheap-n-cheerful vibe resonated so well that I traded a (disappointing) 2020 Forester Touring for TWO new Kicks, both loaded SR models. The dealer made a great deal, as they seemingly wanted that Forester. With congested city life as the daily norm, Nissan's surround-view camera system has won me over. I cannot imagine owning another car without this safety feature. Also, Nissan's Zero-Gravity seats have been a blessing to my back and thighs. We are never fatigued, even after hours on the road. For basic and economical transport, both Nissan Kicks and Versa are pleasant options. Note: I would have considered a Hyundai Venue, but there were none available for rental, and I need a full weekend of driving to evaluate a car.

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Dec 10, 2020

      Your comments are as good as any road review I've read. The SR trim really is a meaningful improvement for small price adder.

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Dec 10, 2020

    From a looks standpoint, I don't hate it, but I haven't driven anything will less than 145 horsepower since my Escort, and that wasn't pretending to be a crossover. It still looks a bit like Cletus and the family with that grille.

  • Old Scold As a Marylander, I got those plates assigned to me when I purchased my car in 2016, 4 years after the so-called anniversary. I figured they were using up NOS, and it never occurred to me to check out the URL. I still don't care. It's a stupid issue, but I have my tag number memorized should I need it.
  • Hpycamper I drive a car with automatic braking and have nothing good to say about it. It has activated going around corners on mountain roads when the hillside is close to the road, when lawn sprinklers turned on and sprayed the car, and driving past cars on the shoulder that are making right turns. Luckily these phantom brake activations have not caused a wreck. The systems are just too dumb.
  • SCE to AUX How long until that $90k yields a profit for my grandchildren?
  • Ajla I do wonder what the legacy of the Alpha Camaro will be. It was higher performing than the Zeta but lacks the pop culture imprinting of that gen or the earlier F-body. And somehow it managed to be less comfortable than the Zeta. I guess it depends if this is really the last traditional Camaro.
  • SCE to AUX I'd admire it at the car cruise, but $20k gets you halfway to a new truck.