Behind the Wheel

2020 Nissan Kicks Review: As competition stiffens, the subcompact SUV puts up a good effort

The Nissan Kicks is the smallest SUV the company sells in the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Kicks is only in its second model year in the U.S. but the subcompact SUV is already making a sizable impact in the market. It was right on-trend when it finally make it to America after years of use in global markets that are friendlier to small vehicles.

On paper, the model isn't changed from the 2019 model year. It's still a zippy-looking crossover with appointments that mostly don't challenge the norm for the segment. Its design isn't as fun or funky as the Nissan Juke, but it tries to stay youthful.

2020 Nissan Kicks The appearance of the Kicks is playful. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2020 Kicks has a 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve 4- cylinder engine rated at 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque powering it. It's paired with a continuously variable transmission. This is the same powertrain that is in the 2020 Nissan Versa. There, it's competent and confident at moderate speed, but not quick. It performs similarly in the Kicks in that respect. The two models are about the same weight and often used in the same urban environment.

Nissan only sells the Kicks with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is not available.

Some competition has more, while others have less horsepower and torque. Some are better off the line (Hyundai Kona) while others come standard with all-wheel drive (Subaru Crosstrek).

With the competition in its segment strengthening, and the upgrades present in the recently redesigned Nissan Sentra, its hard to drive the Kicks without being a bit disappointed by its appointments, which is unusual for a Nissan. For its starting price, the model is reasonably well appointed, but getting into the top tier trim, which presses $22,000 in both models, the Kicks falls short.

2020 Nissan Kicks The interior of the Kicks features numerous hard elements that make the car feel interior to the competition.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Kicks comes standard features with a 7.0-inch infotainment touch screen that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.It also has Nissan's suite of safety and driver assistance technology called Nissan Safety Shield 360, and an above average amount of cargo capacity.

However, there are plenty of hard surfaces and places where Nissan looks like they took shortcuts with the design. This is a similar problem to what the Leaf interior has going on.

Not only is it not as aesthetically well-appointed as the competition, its cabin allows a fair amount of road and CVT noise to reach passengers and seats are uncomfortable for anything other than a short trip. The Hyundai Venue has seats that are comfortable for all-day driving and an infotainment system that proves more responsive.

The Kona, Venue, and Crosstrek prove worthy competition for the model. The Sentra features the next stage of Nissan design, delivering even more bang for the buck than before. The Kick's biggest asset is that trend of buying a sedan is waning. Still, the Kicks is primed for an upgrade.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The new Range Rover builds on the current 2020 Range Rover Sport SVR offering.

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

The 2021 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Edition is the pinnacle of the Range Rover Sport lineup for the new model year. The SUV blends familiar details with stunning horsepower to up the ante for buyers.

The Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Edition is part of the Special Vehicle Operations family of vehicles. It's a growing part of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) operation, with over 9,500 high-performance and luxury SV products retailed in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, up 64 percent from the previous year. JLR's best-selling SV SUV last year was the 575-horsepower Range Rover Sport SVR, which saw sales growth in its fifth year of production.

2021 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Edition Land Rover offers the model with a powerful V8 under the hood.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

This take on that best-seller delivers more aggressive looks thanks to an expensive infusion of carbon fiber on the body of the vehicle. There's an exposed carbon fiber hood center section, front bumper insert surrounds, main grille and vent surrounds, as well as a range of other carbon fiber exterior design details, carbon fiber interior trim finishers, a carbon fiber engine cover and 22-inch Gloss Black forged alloy wheels.

The model is powered by a 575-horsepower 5.0-liter SVR V8 engine. The beating heart gives the car a maximums speed of 176 mph, the ability to get form zero to 60 mph in 4.3 second, and 516 pound-feet of torque. It gets 15 mpg in the city, 20 mpg on the highway, and 16 mpg combined.

Despite it's fancy looks, the all-wheel drive Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Edition is just as capable off-road as its familial counterparts. It comes with a bevy of drive modes that improve vehicle dynamics depending on driving conditions as well as an air suspension at all four corners to help keep the riders comfortable and provides the ability to keep a low profile.

2021 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR Carbon Edition The model rides on standard v22-inch Gloss Black forged alloy wheels.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Land Rover is pricing the model at $130,000 plus a $1,350 destination fee.

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The redesigned 2021 Nissan Rogue includes the technology.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan continues to roll out its Rear Door Alert (RDA) technology across its lineup. An announcement this week by the company confirmed that the alert is now available on 12 vehicles. It is expected to be available on all four-door trucks, sedans, and SUVs by 2022. That date is important as it marks the completion of a series of product rollouts the company has planned.

For model year 2020, RDA is standard on the Nissan Altima, Armada, Kicks (SV and SR), LEAF, Murano, Maxima, Pathfinder, Rogue, Rogue Sport, Sentra, TITAN (King Cab and Crew Cab) and Versa (SV and SR).

2020 Nissan rear door alert Drivers can temporarily or permanently disable the alerts in Nissan vehicles.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Rear Door Alert was developed by a pair of Nissan engineers and first installed in the 2018 Pathfinder. RDA was the industry's first system to use the horn, door sensors, and message display on the center instrument panel, to remind drivers to check the back seat after the vehicle is parked.

In Nissan vehicles, RDA works by monitoring when a rear door is open and closed before and after the vehicle is in motion. If a rear door was opened and shut before the vehicle is in motion. Once the vehicle is in park, the system will first display a notification in the instrument panel. If the driver exits the vehicle and does not open a rear door, the system progresses to distinctive chirps of the horn.

Drivers can configure and temporarily or permanently turn off RDA though a menu in the instrument cluster display or through separate RDA switch, depending on the model.

Last year, Nissan joined other vehicle manufacturers in a pledge to have a rear seat reminder feature in essentially all cars and trucks by model year 2025 or sooner. The approach that each automaker takes may be different.

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