Managing Editor Tim Healey is currently behind the wheel of a new, subcompact 2018 Nissan Kicks in the unlikely and extravagant first drive locale of Southern California, but you aren’t allowed to know how it drives until Friday. Stay tuned for that.
In the meantime, you’re allowed to know exactly how much Nissan’s entry-level crossover costs, and guess what? There’s a value proposition at work. Mind you, there’s no all-wheel drive availability with this little model, which could take it right off many buyers’ must-have list, but Nissan clearly wants to appeal to the cost-conscious consumer who shuns steep and muddy terrain and doesn’t live in the depths of the snow belt.
Starting price for a base Kicks S is $17,990, or eight bucks less than its Canadian counterpart. Nissan has a habit of pricing certain models in the same range on both sides of the border, and the Kicks is no exception. That U.S. MSRP excludes a $975 destination fee, which brings the total cost to $18,965.
Riding atop the same platform as the thrilling Versa, all Kicks carry a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder powering the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission. Output is 125 horses and 115 lb-ft of torque. If you’re feeling underwhelmed, remember that the Kicks tips the scales at a feathery 2,649 pounds. This helps the Kicks attain an EPA-estimated 36 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg in the city, for a combined 33 mpg. That’s economy car territory.
Base S buyers stand to receive a 7-inch touchscreen, standard forward automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning, a backup camera, and Siri as a passenger. Moving up to the volume SV trim delivers another label of convenience goodies, including a proximity key, blind spot monitoring, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and a drive-assist display. SV buyers also see 17-inch wheels.
Springing for the decently equipped mid-level SV will set you back $20,665 after delivery, which is $215 more than the base, front-drive Hyundai Kona SE but $2,370 less than the base, front-drive Toyota C-HR LE. Interestingly, the mid-level Kicks carries the exact same price as a base Honda HR-V LX, though that front-drive model can be had with a manual transmission for the few people still enamoured by the idea.
Suffice it to say, the Kicks’ base MSRP undercuts the competition by a significant margin. Should you want jazzier looks (but no extra power), there’s an SR model that adds foglights, a rear spoiler (very important in a vehicle of this class), LED headlight accents, sport seats with orange contrast stitching, and leather protecting the steering wheel and shift knob. $21,265 takes that one home.
Nissan’s clearly playing for the urban Millennial who just got their first professional job. Need further proof? Well, the Kicks Color Studio offers the opportunity to plaster the vehicle’sÂ lip finisher, side mirror caps, door handle covers, and rear roof spoiler with any of 12 colors, thus ticking the “self-expression” box. There’s also a video on Nissan’s consumer site showing four young, sexy people dancing with the Kicks in a trendy indoor industrial space, bringing to mind Chrysler’s notorious “cocaine factory” ad for the Turismo Duster.
If your grandmother’s young enough to own a C+C Music Factory CD, this could be the subcompact front-drive crossover for you, Nissan implies.
Keep an eye out for the review on Friday morning.