Behind the Wheel

2021 Nissan Kicks Review: Better than most of its competition, priced right

The Nissan Kicks has been refreshed for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

For the majority of Americans, driving their vehicle isn't a raucous good time. It gets them from Point A to Point B in a fashion that is reasonably comfortable and fuel efficient while fulfilling their cargo and capability needs. That's where the 2021 Nissan Kicks comes in. For the average small SUV buyer, it checks many of their boxes.

For the 2021 model year, Nissan has refreshed the subcompact SUV giving it new looks and options. Perhaps most importantly, the company is giving buyers more without raising the price too much – it starts at just $19,500, just $400 over last year's MSRP.

2021 Nissan KicksThe fresh exterior of the 2021 Nissan Kicks brings it in line with other SUVs in the Nissan family. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The SUV's exterior is now more in line with the revised 2021 Nissan Armada, new 2021 Nissan Rogue, and forthcoming Nissan Ariya. It has a deep V-motion design with a "double V-motion" feature that pairs the sweeping chrome piece with piano black underneath. The Kicks continues to sport Nissan's old logo.

Its grille is flanked by new, slim LED headlights with the top-tier Kicks SR getting a multi-reflector versions of the light. The car also has automatic high beams with adjustable sensitivity and timing and a rear windscreen wiper as standard.

A new rear bumper design and taillight meet to give the Kicks a wide-looking booty. All is not well – the body finisher that covers the tailgate release and rearview camera looks like a glued-on afterthought. But truly, that's my only quibble with the exterior.

Nissan offers the Kicks with a host of two-tone paint jobs. It's nice to see the trend continue with this refreshed model. The Kicks SR tester's Aspen White Tricoat/Super Black body/roof combo was worn well, especially when paired with the available 17-inch black alloy wheels.

2021 Nissan KicksThe 2021 Nissan Kicks is available in a variety of two-tone paint jobs. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan gives every Kicks a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that is rated to get 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. This is the same engine that is in the Nissan Versa, delivering the same power figures but with slightly varied gear ratios. As in the Versa, in the front-wheel drive Kicks it is paired with Nissan's Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). All-wheel drive (AWD) is not available.

The Kicks came to visit during a week filled with icy and wet roads. It handled them with aplomb. Don't let the lack of AWD scare you away from the dealership lot.

It also wasn't terrible on gas. Nissan estimates that the Kicks gets 31 mpg in the city, 36 mpg on the highway, and 33 mpg combined, making it one of the most fuel-efficient subcompact SUVs you can buy. It has 356 miles of range on a single tank of gas.

Though it's engine isn't large, nor its power figures, Nissan has gotten the formula right with the Kicks delivering a vehicle that can easily and relatively quickly get up to speed without much racket (it has a CVT, and they're naturally noisy under harsh acceleration but there are far more offensive ones out there).

2021 Nissan KicksThe interior of the 2021 Nissan Kicks is made of higher quality materials than the 2020 version. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Braking is improved in the Kicks over the previous model year with the addition of better braking equipment.

The interior design of the Kicks remains mostly the same as in previous years but it is filled with higher quality materials than before. The look and feel of the SUV makes it punch above the weight of its price tag in the same way the 2020 Nissan Sentra does.

The Kicks cabin mostly feels spacious for its size. Nissan has made the most of the space with good small item storage, easy-access USB ports up front, and more than one storage option for your smartphone while driving and charging.

Climate controls are easy to find with your fingers while driving. Nissan gave the SR tester a heated steering wheel and heated seats, both of which reacted quickly, a nice addition for buyers in states with a cold winter.

The Nissan continues to have a D-shaped steering wheel, six-way adjustable driver's seat, four-way adjustable front passenger seat, and 60/40 split-folding rear seat as standard. Nissan has given the SUV an electronic parking brake, freeing up valuable center console space.

2021 Nissan KicksThe 2021 Nissan Kicks is relatively spacious for its size. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Kicks has best-in-class front seat legroom though its hip room proportions and center console design make the front seats more compartmentalized than what is ideal for larger and taller drivers. Adults can easily fit in the back seats – not something that is a standard in the subcompact class.

The available tonneau cover provides a good amount of hidden storage, covering about two-thirds of the rear cargo area. The cover is easily lowered and maneuvered.

The base model Kicks S gets a host of standard tech features including a 7.0-inch infotainment touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, three USB ports, keyless entry, push-button start, and Easy Fill Tire Alert. Moving up to the Kicks SV adds Nissan Intelligent Key, automatic climate control, a 7.0-inch driver information screen, satellite radio, remote engine start, and a USB-C port. That's a fairly comprehensive list for this class model.

The Kicks SR is the only model available with a package, which makes ordering easy. The Premium Package adds a fantastic Bose Audio system, Prima-Tex-appointed seats, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, a security system, NissanConnect Services, a Wi-Fi hot spot, the ability to have over-the-air updates, and tonneau cover.

2021 Nissan KicksMost adults could fit comfortably the rear seats of the 2021 Nissan Kicks. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Kicks is a subcompact SUV that delivers a lot of bang for its buck, especially with this model year's more premium upgrades. Priced against the competition, it's easy to see why buyers would be looking at it instead of less engaging, less well-equipped counterparts from Honda and Toyota.

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The new Z starts at under $40,000.

Nissan

The new Nissan Z is finally here, and the 400-horsepower sports car is hitting the market with a reasonable price. The car starts at just $39,990 before a $1,025 destination charge. That's significantly cheaper than the least expensive Toyota Supra for a car with impressive specs and great style.

2023 Nissan ZThe Z gets a 400-horsepower V6 from Infiniti.Nissan

The 2023 Z comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes 400 horsepower. It's paired with either a six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. That's the enthusiast's dream setup, and it's one of few cars available in the U.S. with a manual gearbox. The body is stiffer and features more reinforcements from prior cars, and the steering system now features electric assistance instead of hydraulics. 18-inch wheels are standard and 19-inchers are available.

When it announced the car, Nissan made a point to talk about its retro-inspired styling and classic proportions. The coupe features a sweeping roofline, a distinct front fascia, and is unmistakeably a Z car, through and through. Inside, the car features a three anlog gauges for a classic look, 12.3-inch configurable digital gauge cluster and a 9-inch touchscreen display. The cabin looks upscale and tech-forward, with deep bucket seats.

2023 Nissan ZThe 2023 Z lands this summer. Nissan

Nissan says the new Z will go on sale in summer 2022. Pricing starts at $39,990 for the base Sport trim, $49,990 for the mid-range Performance trim, and $52,990 for the limited-edition range-topping Proto Spec trim.

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Full-size pickup truck

2022 Nissan Titan pricing announced

The 2022 Titan starts at $39,705

Nissan

The gas-powered full-size truck market is as strong as ever, even as new electric trucks start hitting the road. Toyota just released an all-new Tundra, the Ford F-150 offers an innovative hybrid powertrain, and GM recently overhauled the tech in its full-size pickup twins. Though it's not quite on the level of its competition, the Nissan Titan offers decent capability and a standard V8. Pricing for the Titan line starts just shy of $40,000.

2022 Nissan TitanNissan fully refreshed the Titan in 2020Nissan

Pricing for the 2022 Titan starts at (including $1,695 destination):

  • Titan S King Cab 4x2: $39,705
  • Titan S Crew Cab 4x2: $41,475
  • Titan Platinum Reserve Crew Cab 4x4: $61,675
  • Titan XD S Crew Cab 4x2: $47,275
  • Titan XD Platinum Reserve Crew Cab 4x4: $64,735

The Titan got an overhaul for the 2020 model year and it sees new standard features for 2022. The base Titan S adds a standard trailer hitch and Berliner, the SV trim gets navigation, dual-zone climate controls, and more. All trims get Nissan Safety Shield 360, which includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, lane departure warnings, blind spot warnings, rear cross-traffic alerts, and rear automatic braking.

2022 Nissan TitanThe Titan gets new standard features for 2022Nissan

A single powertrain is on offer for the 2022 Titan, but it's a good one. The truck comes standard with a 5.6-liter V8 that makes 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or four-wheel drive. That powertrain enables a max towing rating of 9,660 pounds, which is not as strong as the Titan's rivals, but should be plenty for the average truck owner.

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