2018 Nissan Kicks (Insert Pun Here) »

2018 Nissan Kicks (Insert Pun Here)

It's yet another small SUV on the market! The Nissan Kicks. We're not kidding. With a name like that, Nissan has to be trying to give the brand a happy, even carefree feel. The Kicks' captivating tri-color exteriors portray that feel. We all know, however, that vehicles are never carefree. They have to serve their purpose and they have to be reliable. You can have fun in any car but can the Kicks carry out its duties day after day while keeping the driver happy? Can it replace the discontinued Nissan Juke, an obviously fun kind of vehicle, and still take care of the mundane stuff?

The 2018 Kicks starts at $19,000, within a grand of the Hyundai Kona, the Honda HR-V and a few other subcompact SUVs. Considering the price, your money should probably go towards another brand if what you want is performance. The only engine available for the Kicks is a 125-hp 4-cylinder that Nissan has paired with a CVT transmission. The Kicks' horsepower is about 20 less than competitors like the Mazda CX-3 have, and the competing vehicles often have more horsepower at higher trim levels. The Kicks lacks.....kick. Sorry. Hyundai offers its Kona SUV with a 1.6L, 175-hp turbocharged engine and plenty of technology for under $28,000, as a next-step option.

So how does the Kicks make up for this performance mismatch? It has 25 cubic feet of rear cargo room, compared to Kona's 19 cubic feet and HR-V's 24 cubic feet. The Kicks' interior has some unique flavor, with a leather-padded dash, a 7" touchscreen and dual climate control. However, not all of those features are available in the base "S" trim. What does come with that trim is a backup camera, automated emergency braking, Bluetooth, and three USB ports. The Hyundai Kona doesn't have any semi-autopilot features at the base trim but offers plenty at the next trim up, the SEL. The HR-V's semi-autopilot safety tech begins for $21,000 at the EX trim.

After thinking it over, you start to realize that the question isn't whether the Kicks can do its job. It's whether you can get your kicks driving the Kicks. It's just not as cool or as eccentric as the peppy Juke, its defunct cousin. On the other hand, it's not completely without attitude. It is a nice-looking vehicle. It has tready door jams with the Kicks logo on them, a steering wheel and instrument panel that make you want to grab on, and a design that's much nicer than that of the average small SUV. While the Kicks isn't the Juke, it's something more drivers will be comfortable purchasing. Perhaps Hyundai offers a replacement for the Juke with the turbocharged version of the Kona. For those of us who don't need that, the Kicks will serve us just fine.

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