Future CC Outtake: 2018 Nissan Kicks – The Crossover Revolution Will Definitely Be Televised, With The Kicks Leading The Charge

Sometimes, true value can be hard to find. Very rarely does one product consistently stand out as a great deal. But it does happen from time to time. Even in the hyper competitive TV market this is happening; critics can’t stop raving about the quality and price of the TCL 6-Series, an HDTV from a little known but quickly growing Chinese company. The Nissan Kicks seems to be making similar waves on the internet. And it may even be a better value than its television counterpart.

In my first post covering the 2018 NY International Auto Show, I had this to say about Nissan’s smallest crossover:

The Kicks is basically a sub-subcompact crossover. Does that mean it’s smaller than a Rogue Sport? Not really. It’s about three inches shorter than a Rogue Sport, an inch and a half thinner, and the wheelbase is exactly one inch shorter than its bigger brother. Historically, such similarly sized dimensions generally meant that an automaker would look at the specs and decide there was only room for one of these products in their lineup. But Nissan clearly has a strategy here.

That strategy involves Nissan selling the Kicks at a substantially cheaper price than its competitors. And it seems like pretty much no one expected it.

Over at Car And Driver, John Huffman liked the Kicks for its cheap base price and compelling features but ultimately he came away feeling a bit underwhelmed by the crossover. He believes that this type of car is representative of the era in which it was conceived. Not really a bad thing, but its lasting appeal is suspect.

Scott Evans at Motor Trend also recognized the Kicks as a vehicle that may have an expiration date due to its trendiness. Although his conclusion was that it doesn’t really matter, as the car succeeds on the merits, and comes with a sound system that punches well above its weight.

Scott went so far as to declare the optional Bose sound system as superior to the stereo system in a Bentley Bentayga. Those integrated headrest speakers apparently enhance the music listening experience quite significantly.

So the establishment automotive publications seem to think this Kicks is worth a look. Why is it so compelling? Consider the base S trim. Here are the key standard features on every model: a 7 inch touch-screen with Bluetooth, three USB ports, and Automatic Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning. For an additional $2700, the SV trim adds Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Nissan’s keyless ignition system with push button start.

If forced to buy a Kicks, I would opt for the SR trim with the Premium Package and add reverse sensors as an accessory. Checking every box in the accessory section will add thousands to the base price of the Nissan. But the Kicks still comes out cheaper than the competition in pretty much every way.

The Renegade Limited has an MSRP of $27,240. Even at that price you’d still need to purchase several packages to match the Kicks in feature content. Jeep customers would have to opt for the Advanced Technology Group ($995) to get automatic emergency braking, automatic headlights, and reverse sensors. They’d also have to add the Safety & Security Group ($895) for features like blind spot monitoring, upgraded headlamps, and a security system. And the Beats Premium Audio System ($695) is also necessary to achieve content parity with the Nissan. All that adds up to a grand total of $29,825 for the Renegade. That is about $7,400 more expensive than a similarly equipped Kicks.

Even when subtracting current Jeep incentives and the added cash value of four wheel drive ($1700), the Nissan still comes in about $1,100 cheaper. And that is before any rebate or special offer Nissan throws at potential Kicks buyers.

The closest Honda equivalent to the Kicks seems to be the HR-V EX-L with navigation. At first glance, its $25,140 MSRP seems more reasonable than the Jeep and not too much of a penalty to pay for Honda’s legendary reliability.

While the highest tier HR-V gets an auto dimming rear view mirror and navigation, which aren’t available on the Nissan, it lacks other features that make the Kicks compelling. Android Auto/Apple CarPlay? Nope! Not available. Automatic braking, blind spot warning, and reverse sensors? The Honda sales person can direct you to a CR-V instead.

The Kicks even uh, “kicks” (sorry) up the intra-company competition a notch when compared to the Nissan Rogue Sport. As far as I can tell, the $27,190 for the North American Qashqai gets you navigation, but no other features that make the additional expenditure compelling. Although there are subjective reasons why shoppers might gravitate toward a Rogue Sport, like styling, comfort, and overall refinement. But are those reasons worth almost $5,000?

Make/ModelLength/Width/Wheelbase (inches)Front Head Room/ Rear Headroom (inches)Leg Room Front/Rear (inches)Hip Room Front/Rear (inches)
Nissan Kicks169.1/ 69.3/ 103.140.7/ 38.543.7/ 33.250.9/ 49.1
Nissan Rogue Sport (Qashqai)172.4/ 72.3/ 104.239.6/ 38.342.8/ 33.453.4/ 46.9
Jeep Renegade166.6/ 79.6/ 101.241.1/ 40.541.2/ 35.153.1/ 51.9
Honda HR-V169.1/ 69.8/ 102.839.5/ 38.3 41.2/ 39.3 53.1/ 47.4

And I’m sure some of you thought the Kicks would have one glaring issue: interior space. But that is simply not the case here. While the other subcompact crossovers have more width, which leads to better hip room, the Kicks either beats all the other models on the chart or is decently competitive with them. And the Kicks has more cargo capacity behind the second row than the Honda and the Rogue Sport. This Nissan is an HR-V killer.

In his review of the Kicks, Alex Dykes very succinctly sums up the advantages of the Nissan in relation to the competition:

“…we actually find a cargo area that is a little bit bigger than the Honda HR-V and a rear seat passenger area that is definitely more accommodating than the average subcompact crossover. The Mazda CX-3 is an awful lot of fun to drive but the rear passenger area and the cargo area are awfully small. The Honda HR-V has a very premium feeling interior but its going to cost you twenty to thirty percent more. The Kia Soul is a very practical, very square box but it’s not going to get the kind of fuel economy we get out of this model.”

Is the Kicks perfect? No. Its probably not the most refined entry in its segment. It notably lacks adaptive cruise control, all wheel drive, and other features that might turn some customers away. And its interior is a bit spartan. But it undercuts the competition by thousands of dollars without giving up interior space, cargo capacity, fuel economy, or 0-60 performance.

So the next time you read about an automaker culling its sedan lineup, it would be wise to think about the Kicks, which provides a substantive value for shoppers looking for a vehicle in the $19,000-$22,000 price range.