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.

Trending News

Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The 2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo is joining the company’s lineup

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The decision to add a turbocharged engine variant to the Mazda3 was met with praise for those who like getting in a little more excitement behind the wheel. Now It has been announced that the Mazda3's crossover counterpart, the CX-30 is getting the same treatment.

The 2021 Mazda CX-30 will be available with a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque when the tank is filled with 93 octane fuel. The performance drops to 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque when owners fill up with 87 octane. Engines with the turbo-four also get standard all-wheel drive.

2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo The body styling is pretty much the same as the rest of the Mazda CX-30 lineup, but it does have unique wheels and other attributes.Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

To accommodate the new engine option, Mazda has not had to change the outward appearance of the model In earnest but does add some highlights including 18-inch black aluminum alloy wheels, larger tailpipes, gloss black door mirrors and a "TURBO" badge on the liftgate.

As the most premium Mazda CX-30 model, it comes with a frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror, black upper dash and chrome finishes. The features list includes a Bose 12-speaker audio system and an 8.8-inch infotainment screen..

The CX-30 2.5 Turbo, as the models with the engine will be known. Also comes equipped with Smart City Brake Support Reverse and rear cross-traffic braking technologies that can sense a vehicle coming into the lane of travel when reversing, warn the driver, and apply the brakes in order to possibly avoid a collision. Additional available safety technologies include a 360-degree view monitor, Active Drive Display, traffic sign recognition, and adaptation front lighting.

2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo The CX-30 debuted just last year.Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The 2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo is scheduled to go on sale by the end of 2020. Specific packaging and pricing details will be announced in the coming months

Trending News

 
 

Volkswagen has chosen a name for its new SUV.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The forthcoming new Volkswagen SUV will be called the Taos after the town in New Mexico. The name was chosen to specifically appeal to North American customers, who are the target market for the SUV, which Will slot below the Tiguan in the VW lineup.

“We're thrilled to announce the name for the newest member of the Volkswagen family," said Hein Schafer, Senior Vice President for Product Marketing and Strategy, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "It was important to choose a name that really embodied the nature of the car and the town of Taos, New Mexico was a perfect fit. It's a small city that offers big things—from outdoor adventure to arts and design and great cuisine."

Taos New Mexico Taos, New Mexico is the namesake for a forthcoming Volkswagen model.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

"We are excited that Volkswagen has named their sport utility vehicle after the town of Taos," said Taos Mayor Dan Barrone. "It's a great opportunity for our community to share its rich history and culture alongside Volkswagen with its unique and rich history and culture."

Taos, New Mexico is a thriving small town of 6,000 people. It has a 400-year history and a 1,000-year-old Native American community just a few miles from the center fo town. Artists and skiers flock to the city, which is noted for its stunning landscapes.

Incidentally, Taos was also home to John Muir, an engineer turned mechanic, and author of "How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step procedures for the Compleat Idiot." First published in 1969, and illustrated by local artist Peter Aschwanden, this counter-culture guide to Volkswagen repairs quickly developed a popular following. The book, started in Muir's Taos shop, has helped keep countless VW models running, from Beetles and Buses to Type 3 and Type 4 models.

Volkswagen promises that the new Taos “will offer great value, excellent fuel economy, and great packaging, as well as advanced infotainment and driver-assistance features”.

The 2022 Volkswagen Taos will be revealed on October 13.

Trending News