By on May 23, 2022

2022 Nissan Kicks SR

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

Continuously-variable transmission, front-wheel drive

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

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

Base Price: $23,415 US / $27,558 CAN

As Tested: $25,930 US / $30,123 CAN

Prices include $1175 destination charge in the United States and $2060 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Lawyers are the fun police, aren’t they? Always getting in the way of you doing something interesting and/or stupid, right? Every week when I get a new vehicle to test, it’s prefaced by a few pages of legalese to be electronically signed, with a number of restrictions and prohibitions on what you can and cannot do with the vehicle.

Upon scheduling the delivery of this 2022 Nissan Kicks, I spoke with a Nissan representative, thinking I might be able to weasel my way past one of those lawyerly lines keeping my teenage daughter, turning 16 the day the Kicks arrived, from driving the smallest Nissan. No dice, I’m afraid, so I had to put myself (figuratively, of course) into her shoes, imagining what the Kicks might be like for a new driver.

The dad within me takes a quick look at the spec sheet and likes what he sees – the driving enthusiast, not so much. The 122 horsepower four-cylinder driving the front wheels seems sufficient – though when hauling four people that can add a good bit to the curb weight of a bit under 2,800 pounds, the acceleration is best described as deliberate. The traditional Nissan CVT transmission is rather unobtrusive in this application – in other cars, the engine noise gets thrashy as the CVT winds up and down the ratio spread, but here it’s more than tolerable.

Handling is similarly unremarkable – this is no sporty little hot-hatch, and that’s fine. The short wheelbase does lead to a slightly choppy ride if the interstate is cursed with lots of expansion joints, but the Kicks is no worse than any other car or small crossover in this price range. A teen headed to and from school and extracurriculars won’t complain – the drive to and from college with a hatch full of dirty laundry should be fine, too.

Passenger comfort is where the Kicks shines. The front and rear leg and headroom are stellar, and the front seats are as comfy as the rest of Nissan’s lineup. With the rear seats folded, there’s room for 53.0 cubic feet of dirty laundry, for trips to IKEA to outfit the first apartment, or to sneak in that new puppy that you don’t want the landlord to know about.

Infotainment controls work well – the optional eight-inch touchscreen responds quickly to inputs, with knobs for volume and tuning. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the board. HVAC controls are right below the screen, and similarly work well – nothing is confusing or likely to distract the new driver. Audio quality is good – though road noise does come through the cabin at times.

The Kicks does have an interesting optional Bose Personal Plus sound system – it places speakers in the driver’s headrest to help direct the sound at the person most using the car. Reminds me of the headrest speaker setup in my thirty-plus-year-old Miata – in both cases, placing speakers right by the ears does make a difference in overcoming road noise.

Look, I’m not going to tell you that the Nissan Kicks is the greatest car in the world. It’s kinda slow, not super roomy, and is definitely built to a price. But for the right buyer – especially one shopping at the entry price of right around $20k – it makes a lot of sense.

[Exterior images: © 2022 Chris Tonn, interior images courtesy Nissan]

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14 Comments on “2022 Nissan Kicks Review – Stays In Its Lane...”

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    We really need this. There are hardly any small to medium sized CUVs on the market.

    • 0 avatar

      They don’t get to call this a CUV, as AWD isn’t even available. It’s no more a crossover than a Honda Fit.

      Es hatchback.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s a lifted Versa with higher weight, higher price, smaller cargo area unless you stack to the roof, and really bland exterior. God bless the marketers over the past decade plus convincing the buying public that hatchbacks and wagons = bad. Hatchback and wagon + lift kit and gray plastic = gotta have!!!

        • 0 avatar

          I wouldn’t say it’s the marketers fault; People just Would. Not. Buy. hatchbacks and wagons. Generally the taller body form means that there can be more interior space in a shorter body, but if people still wanted 1994 Cavalier wagons, GM would be stamping them out. The most popular wagon manufacturer is probably and arguably Subaru, and they had to butch theirs up and put hiking drag on it to sell the thing. Most of the people who want SUVs frankly have no reason to. My mom is 76 and likes them over my minivan because they “look tough: and another lady friend has a Pilot and really needs a minivan but lusts after a Jeep wrangler. It would go to Hobby Lobby and Marshall’s and she would complain that it was noisy, uncomfortable, sucked gas, rode poorly, and wasn’t good. . but she would never be seen in a mommy wagon or hatchback. The last wagon I remember being introduced, the Buick regal wagon sold like moldy potato salad.

      • 0 avatar

        True. But it ‘looks’ like and SUV and that’s what matters. This is nothing more than a Versa Note, but that car was completely unacceptable to my wife, and this was just fine. It’s all in the image presented.

  • avatar

    I mean… it’s okay, but for about the same dough, a Kia Soul or Hyundai Venue seem like much better choices, all around.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not disagreeing, but why do you make this assertion? Please be specific and detailed.

      • 0 avatar

        The Soul has 25 more horsepower, 20 more lb-ft or torque, has 8 cu ft more passenger volume, has a longer warranty, and starts $800 less.
        Against the Venue it seems a bit closer.

        Personally though, the Rio hatch and Ioniq hybrid are the more enticing H/K options depending on which trim Kicks you are looking at. The Rio does give up some cargo space but is more fuel efficient and $2k+ cheaper while the Ioniq Blue or SE has a major fuel efficiency advantage with passenger/cargo volume about equal.

        • 0 avatar

          ^what he said, plus Nissan CVT seem to fail more often. I also think (and that’s subjective, not objective) that the Soul looks interesting, while the Kicks – and to be fair, the Venue – look generic and bland.

        • 0 avatar

          Ride height has conquered all. Ask the average consumer and they will tell you the Kicks is a “neat little car” and the Ioniq or Rio is “cheap” or “dorky.”

  • avatar

    Once you’ve driven a Kicks, driving a Toyota Corolla makes you feel like a better person. The Kicks is over priced for what you’re getting. Narrow to the point if cramped. And it’s a car I really wanted to like.

  • avatar

    If it’s as good as the 2020 model my wife’s had for the past two years, it’ll do fine. It’s her daily go to work car, and handles the deliveries (she’s the Catering Coordinator for the local Panera Bread), and we’ve used it on a the rare long trip when I don’t have to haul tons of reenactment gear. Richmond to St. Augustine was done in reasonable comfort, with fuel mileage well up in the 30’s.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I have become a firm believer in CUVs/SUVs as sedans and coupes have reduced their greenhouses, lowered their rooflines and provide minimal road clearance. Not sure whether they did this to improve mileage or in the name of ‘style’.

    I have given up on trying to get an infant seat into or out of a sedan. Or getting my mother into one. Or trying to drive one on the highway in the rain or sleet or slush as full size pick-ups and tractor-trailers cover my windshield, hood and roof with spray. And in deep snow the front ‘air dam’ builds up snow like a small plow. The low profile tires/tyres do not help either. In the big storm this year, I saw sedans/coupes with their tires lifted right off the ground as the snow built up underneath them.

    Long live SUVs/CUVs!

  • avatar

    I’m surprisingly not offended by the design of these.

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