2020 Nissan Kicks SV new car reviews

Sometimes, it can be hard to nail down the demographic meant to buy a particular car, but that's not the case for the Nissan Kicks. How do we know this? Nissan tells us who they are selling to in the first sentence of the press kit: "The Nissan Kicks compact SUV is designed to fit the needs of singles or couples looking for expressive styling, personal technology, smart functionality and advanced safety features at an affordable price."

Does the replacement for the controversial Juke live up to what's being promised? Well, looks are subjective, but Nissan has put some notable features on the exterior of the Kicks, namely the two-tone paint job and the signature V-motion grille. We'll mark a check for expressive styling.

As far as personal technology, the Kicks boasts a 7-inch touchscreen head unit that can be optioned with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, with a Bose audio system also available as an option. We'll take that as two for two so far.

Smart functionality and advanced safety kind of go hand in hand here, so we'll combine the two. In this area, the Kicks comes equipped with a full suite of safety features—known as Nissan Safety Shield 360—that includes lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and emergency braking whether you are going forward or reverse. We think that satisfies the criteria.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the "affordable price" bit. A base model Kicks S can be had starting at $19,070, with price maxing out at $27,990 for a top SR trim with every single optional piece of equipment and accessory installed. That doesn't sound too bad for what you are getting, so we'll say that's a pass as well.

So, does the Nissan Kicks truly offer "expressive styling, personal technology, smart functionality and advanced safety features at an affordable price?" We'll cautiously say yes based on the numbers here.

Speaking of numbers, all Kicks are powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine rated for 122 horsepower and 114 lb.-ft. of torque. That power gets sent to the front wheels through Nissan's Xtronic CVT transmission.

However, what does that all that mean for driving dynamics? You'll have to read the rest of our review below to find out.

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David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

People: Give us cars that look exciting.

Nissan: Here, the Rogue.

People: No, not that.

Nissan: Okay, fine, how about the Kicks?

So, Nissan’s smallest SUV for our market is the Kicks. On first encounter, it looks like a Nissan. If the Rogue was too much for some, the Kicks squarely lines up with Nissan’s current mix. It has that family face.

The interior also looks very Nissan, but also feels very plastic-y, from the door panels to the steering wheel. An AMG, this is not. Good, comfortable seats, though.

Power isn’t going to wow you, and it’s backed by a CVT. Around town, the CVT was serviceable. On the highway, though, and when not using cruise, it seemed to let the engine hunt a bit. I know that the CVT was doing its little CVT magic but call me not a fan. The drivetrain just felt disconnected. CVT faceoff: I could live with the one in the recently tested Subaru Outback.

But here’s the big thing here: I’m assuming that most Kicks will be sold on price. The model starts just shy of $20k, while our rather loaded example–CarPlay, fancy LED lighting, etc.–didn’t break the $25k threshold. Plus the Kicks is roomy inside and looks good inside and out. It’s fairly quiet aside from the hunting engine.

Can it beat out a Hyundai, though? For a few bucks less, you can get a Venue. For a few bucks more, the Kona.

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View comments on the GRM forums
NickD UltimaDork
10/27/20 9:54 a.m.

The Nissan kicks was kind of a backwards step from the Juke. Ditch the peppier engine for one that is barely more powerful and has only a modest fuel mileage gain, and then toss the AWD option entirely. And while the styling is more palatable to most than the Juke, it isn't exactly a neck-turner either.

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/27/20 10:03 a.m.

well, let's be honest, how many people needed the awd in the Juke?  With today's amazing traction control systems, you need to be in some really deep snow for AWD to make a difference.  

NickD UltimaDork
10/27/20 10:53 a.m.

In reply to mad_machine (Forum Supporter) :

That's true. but like here in CNY, people have to have AWD. It's a mindset. That's why every third car around here is a Subaru. So, at least in my area, a lot of people wouldn't even consider it just because of the lack of AWD, even if they could get along fine with FWD and good tires. Not saying its a good thing, but that's just how it is, and it seems like Nissan is kind of shooting themselves in the foot.

Run_Away [FS]
Run_Away [FS] Dork
10/27/20 11:10 a.m.

Not at all a Juke replacement, it's down 54% on power (188 vs 122) plus the aforementioned AWD option.

It's a Versa Note replacement. Same platform. Roomy hatch with SUV-esque looks.

NickD UltimaDork
10/27/20 11:13 a.m.

In reply to Run_Away [FS] :

Nissan themselves billed the Kicks as the replacement for the Juke though.

Run_Away [FS]
Run_Away [FS] Dork
10/27/20 11:16 a.m.

In reply to NickD :

Yes I agree, I'm saying that calling it a juke replacement was a marketing gimmick and it's actually a Note with butch styling

Median New Reader
10/27/20 11:18 a.m.

Europe did get a new Juke.

nderwater UltimaDork
10/27/20 11:20 a.m.

In reply to Run_Away [FS] :

Ah, that makes sense — this should be way more appealing and competitive in the market than the Versa was.

GTwannaB HalfDork
10/27/20 8:12 p.m.

The difference between the Juke and Kicks is that people will buy the Kicks. 

Patientzero HalfDork
10/27/20 9:19 p.m.




DirtyBird222 PowerDork
10/27/20 10:33 p.m.

Plain car is plain

hybridmomentspass New Reader
10/28/20 5:50 a.m.

I had one of these for two weeks as a rental while my car was getting fixed (see my thread from mid August about getting hit by a cop...)

Honestly, I liked it.

Good mpg, decent storage space, was a good vehicle for daily driving.


One thing that I discovered on this car, not mentioned above, but a neat little detail was a cell holder.

So you can see on the interior image the touch screen stereo

Well, at the top of it, on the backside, there is a U shaped channel built into the dash that holds a phone very stable while driving. Made it really easy if I was using my phone as GPS

Maybe they didnt mean it for that, maybe they did. I just know it fit my Galaxy S10 in otterbox case PERFECTLY in vertical or horizontal stance

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
10/28/20 8:12 a.m.

I'll give them credit for the two tone paint job and the dashboard isn't terrible, but otherwise it doesn't do anything for me.

Vajingo Reader
10/28/20 12:51 p.m.
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) said:

well, let's be honest, how many people needed the awd in the Juke?  With today's amazing traction control systems, you need to be in some really deep snow for AWD to make a difference.  

It doesn't help that the Jurke had a terrible all wheel drive set up. So you never got to go have fun with your Puke, you only used the all wheel drive system to get started from a stop sign on ice. A pretty big penalty for having all wheel drive. 

Trent (Generally supportive dude)
Trent (Generally supportive dude) PowerDork
10/28/20 12:53 p.m.

Oh thank goodness! A new SUV/Crossover! I was starting to worry that market was a bit underserved.

dxman92 Dork
10/29/20 1:11 a.m.

This has more cargo space than Versa Note with seats up but Versa Note has more cargo space with seats down.

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