The Nissan Juke arrived on the market when the compact crossover segment was in its infancy stage, but even with its quirky looks and sporty intentions, the Juke was quickly forgotten once its rivals arrived. Now Nissan has said goodbye to the Juke and is introducing the 2018 Nissan Kicks, a more usable, millennial friendly compact crossover that it hopes will kick the rest of the segment to the curb.
It wasn’t a secret that the Juke’s looks were incredibly polarizing, with its bug-eyed face, and cargo eating rear end. Nissan has decided to go a bit more conservative with the 2018 Kicks, which looks more in line with the rest of Nissan’s crossovers. The Kicks looks more grown up with a style that will easily appeal to a larger audience.
At the front the Kicks gets a version of Nissan’s V-motion, while the profile gets strong character lines that are meant to give the Kicks an elongated look. Nissan also gave the Kicks the trendy “floating roof” look that seems to be taking over the industry and at the rear it’s boomerang shaped taillights look youthful.
To coincide with the design and help it appeal to Nissan’s target audience – millennials, the Kicks is available in several fun color options with some two tone selections also on the options list. Just like Mini and the Toyota C-HR, the Kicks can be equipped with a contrasting white or black roof that makes it stand out. If you want to go even further, Nissan has also announced the Color Studio for the Kicks, which lets buyers customize the color of 12 accessories, like the mirrors, door handles, wheels and rear spoiler.
Inside the Kicks is now geared more towards city dwellers and millennials than the old Juke. Even with its small footprint, there’s plenty of room for front and rear passengers. Plus the cargo capacity is larger than what you’ll get with the Toyota C-HR and even the Honda HR-V at 25.3 cubic feet. To help it appeal to the “selfie” crowd, the Kicks has a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilty and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. There’s also a second digital screen in the instrument cluster that looks far more upmarket than you’d expect in this price range.
Music is a must for this crowd, so the Kicks is available with two 2.5-inch Bose UltraNearfield neodymium speakers located inside the Kicks’ driver’s seat headrest.
While the Juke was a sporty compact crossover with its turbocharged four-cylinder, the Kicks has decided to take a more conservative/ relaxed approach with its powertrain. The 2018 Kicks is powered by a 1.6L four-cylinder with 125 horsepower and 115 lb-ft. of torque. The four-cylinder is mated to a CVT and if you want all-wheel drive, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The Kicks is only available with front-wheel drive. The Kicks won’t hurt you at the pump, since it’s rated at 31 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, which is higher than both the Toyota C-HR and Honda HR-V.
On the road the Kicks takes a much more relaxed approach to nearly everything compared to the old Juke. It’s styling is less in your face and that same thing can be said about its powertrain. With only 125 horsepower, don’t expect the word “sport” to ever be said in the same sentence. The Kicks struggles to enter freeway on ramps and even passing at highway speeds can be questionable. But around town the powertrain doesn’t seem to struggle too much, partially thanks to 2,672 pound curb weight.
Once up to speed, the Kicks has a firm ride that tries to limit the amount of body roll that can plague other crossovers in this class.
The 2018 Nissan Kicks definitely goes more after the meat of the compact crossover segment by maximizing space and features in a small package. But the biggest selling point that others will find hard to beat, is the value that the Kicks has. The 2018 Kicks starts at $18,965, which is almost $1,500 cheaper than the starting price for the Hyundai Kona – one of its key rivals. The base Kicks comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen, automatic emergency braking, a rearview monitor and Siri Eyes Free.
Step up to the Kicks SV and the price jumps to $20,665 and it adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a 7-inch digital display in the instrument cluster, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Nissan Intelligent Key and Blind Spot Warning. The top spec Kicks SR starts at $21,265 and adds LED headlights, fog lights, a rear spoiler and upgraded cloth seats. A fully equipped Kicks with the Bose audio system, prima-tex faux leather seats and heated front seats only costs $22,265.
While the old Juke did have its benefits, it failed to really appeal to the audience that buys compact crossovers. With the introduction of the 2018 Kicks, Nissan has gone more mainstream and qith Nissan’s recent success with the Rogue, Honda and Toyota should be worried.