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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The 2022 Frontier gets a brand-new face and updated tech.

Nissan

After 16 years on sale in its current form, the Nissan Frontier is a familiar face on our roads. The truck, which is technically old enough to get a driver's license and drive itself, is being totally overhauled for 2022, and the new look is a big departure from the ute we've seen for so many years. Nissan announced that production has started, so we don't have much longer to wait to see it in action for ourselves.

The new truck's 3.8-liter V6 has already been in action powering the 2021 Frontier. It produces a class-leading 310 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque, and sends its power to either the rear or all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission.


2022 Nissan Frontier Production is underway in Mississippi.Nissan


This is the first new Frontier we've seen in over a decade, so the upgrade in technology is steep over the previous truck. The 2022 Frontier can be optioned with a surround-view camera system with off-road mode that automatically displays terrain around the truck when it's shifted into 4LO. The system displays guidelines and can help the driver navigate tough obstacles on the trail. A host of safety features will be available that includes automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane departure warnings, high beam assist, and more.

Other than its age, there was nothing particularly wrong with the previous Frontier's interior, but the new truck looks to be considerably more upscale and modern. Various trims come with interesting contrasting color schemes and the truck gets Nissan's excellent Zero Gravity seats as standard. New hydraulic cab mounts should help quell vibrations inside, and traditional hydraulic power steering will provide excellent steering feel and feedback.

Nissan is building the new frontier in its Canton, MS facility, while the truck's engine is being built at the automaker's powertrain plant in Tennessee. We'll start seeing the new model on dealers' lots sometime in late summer 2021, and you can find a first drive review of the truck right here in a few weeks.


2022 Nissan Frontier The new trucks will arrive on dealers' lots later this summer.Nissan

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New SUV

New Jeep Compass Coming Soon

The Compass gets a major update for 2022.

Stellantis/Jeep

The Chicago Auto Show is happening now, which means we've already seen a few new models and concepts. Just yesterday, Jeep introduced the new 2022 Compass compact SUV. It gets a new design inside and out, updated tech, and a load of new available driver aids. The Compass' refresh comes as new models from Ford, Subaru and others could cut into Jeep's off-road dominance.

As it was in previous model years, the new Compass is powered by a 2.4-liter "Tigershark" four-cylinder engine that makes 177 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. It's good for up to 31 mpg on the highway in 2WD models and can deliver a max towing capacity of up to 2,000 pounds in 4WD models. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard for Compass Sport and Latitude 4X2 models, while all others get a nine-speed automatic transmission that can handle the 20:1 crawl ratio setting in the Trailhawk model.

An all-new Latitude LUX trim joins the Compass lineup for 2022 as well. It features leather upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat, a seven-inch full-color gauge cluster, and the larger 10.1-inch screen.


2022 Jeep Compass The new Compass is more upscale than its predecessor.Stellantis/Jeep


The Compass comes with a class-leading 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen, but higher trims get an even larger 10.1-inch unit. It offers standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and runs Uconnect 5, a colorful, responsive infotainment system with advanced features and tech.

Several new safety features make an appearance, but most are added-cost options. The highway assist system offers a semi-autonomous driving feature, which Jeep says will become available later. Other tech includes traffic sign recognition, standard pedestrian/cyclist automatic emergency braking, a surround-view camera system, parallel and perpendicular parking assist, and a long list of more traditional advanced driver aids like blind spot monitoring and parking sensors.

The Compass lineup for 2022 includes five trims: Sport, Latitude, Latitude LUX, Limited, and Trailhawk. Pricing for the new Compass starts at $26,490, including a $1,495 destination charge. At the top of the lineup, the Trailhawk and Limited models both start at $32,890. It's expected to start arriving on dealers' lots in fall 2021.


2022 Jeep Compass New color schemes highlight the Compass' interior.Stellantis/Jeep

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