The 2021 Nissan Kicks is probably the coolest three-year-old you’ll meet this year. It doesn’t look a whole lot different than its older siblings, but it has some extras that may well entice young, urban drivers to this entry-level crossover/subcompact SUV. That field is packed with entries, including the Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-30, and Mini Cooper Countryman.
First impressions matter, and you’ll see this Kicks has a more aggressive look than last year’s model. The 2021 Nissan Kicks has a larger double V-motion grille, thinner, more modern head and taillights, and a rear LED light bar that streams across the Kicks’ widths.
Open the door of the 2021 Nissan Kicks, and you’ll find must-have new tech and modern design cues. Those include standard Apple Car Play and Android Auto, a larger touchscreen on some trims, and three USB ports plus an optional USB C-port on the two highest trim levels. Don’t look for any premium leather or high-end fabrics, though. Nissan filled the interior with plastic and lower-end materials.
The 2021 Nissan Kicks has plenty to offer the entry-level crossover buyer, including a low MSRP and excellent fuel economy. That means you’ll sacrifice luxury but have a peppy, sporty daily driver that can seat five.
2021 Nissan Kicks: Engine & Powertrain
There’s not much new under the hood of the 2021 Nissan Kicks. All trim levels are equipped with a 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder with a Continuous Variable Valve Timing Control System. Nothing new there, although the variable valve timing system does help maximize efficiency. EPA fuel economy ratings come in at a healthy 31/36 city/highway with a combined of 33.
Still, the engine has 122 horsepower and 114 lb-ft. of torque. It’s front-wheel drive and paired with an Xtronic transmission. That may seem wimpy, but this crossover is more of an urban vehicle than an off-roading monster. And it’s no muscle car. It’ll go from zero to 60 mph in just under 10 seconds, just like the 2020 model.
Is that awful? The short answer is no. And for the price, it really shouldn’t be expected to offer the speeds and maneuverability of an Indy 500 entry. As our friends at Car & Driver report: “The Kicks is nimble and more fun to throw around than some larger SUVs, but it’s not exactly a thrill ride on a twisty road.”
Chassis & Suspension
The 2021 Nissan Kicks sports the same suspension as the 2020 model. That is a front independent strut and stabilizer bar matched with a rear suspension that features a twist beam and twin-tube shock absorbers. That means you’re in for a comfortable ride, even when you encounter some nasty urban potholes. And as Car & Driver suggests, the 2021 Kicks should feel fairly nimble.
You’re not going to find a lot of jazzy extras inside the 2021 Nissan Kicks. The interior remains mostly unchanged, with a few minor tweaks on the higher trim levels. Still, Nissan makes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard on all models. Every Kicks also has three USB ports (two are in the rear), and an optional USB-C port is available for higher trim levels.
Higher trim levels also have slightly larger driver information displays (eight inches vs. seven inches). Last year’s D-shaped steering wheel, six-way driver’s seat, four-way adjustable front seat, and 60/40 split fold-down rear seat remain on all 2021 models.
Standard Safety Features
Every 2021 Nissan Kicks has the standard safety features you’d expect, including advanced airbags, front and rear crumple zones, an energy-absorbing steering column with hood buckling creases, bodyside reinforcements, and more.
One prominent safety bonus is that every 2021 model has the automaker’s Safety Shield 360 package. Features include automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, lane departure warning, high beam assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear automatic braking. That’s a lot for an entry-level vehicle.
2021 Nissan Kicks: Trim Levels
Here is a quick look at each trim level for the new Nissan Kicks. As of this writing, Nissan has not confirmed the starting MSRP for the 2021 Kicks.
The base S trim level includes 16-inch steel wheels with covers, manual-folding mirrors with Resin body-color, halogen headlamps, and a cloth interior. Tech and connectivity features include the AM/FM stereo with six speakers, USB and auxiliary input, satellite radio, Bluetooth, smartphone connectivity, and a seven-inch color touchscreen display.
The SV includes Nissan’s Intelligent Key, remote start, 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, body-color and heated outside mirrors, body-color door handles, roof rails, and a seven-inch Advanced Driver Alert Display. Optional features include SiriusXM and an additional USB Type-C port.
The top-of-the-line SR comes with LED headlights with LED signature accents, LED fog lights, black heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, front and rear bumpers with body-color inserts, a rear roof-mounted spoiler, and dark chrome grille accents. Interior features include an SR seat fabric with interior trim and accents, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather shift knob, and Nissan’s Intelligent Around ViewMonitor.
The Premium Package, available for the SR, includes Bose audio with an amplifier, eight speakers (including within the driver’s headrest), Prima-Tex appointed seats, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, security system, tonneau cover, NissanConnect Services, and an available Wi-Fi hotspot with over-the-air updating.
Every 2021 Nissan Kicks comes with a three-year, 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and five years, 60,000 miles worth of powertrain coverage. Depending on how much you drive, a Nissan extended warranty might be of benefit to you.
2021 Nissan Kicks Availability
If you are in the market for a new Armada, this free and helpful search tool* will show you dealer inventory in your area. That tool will also help you secure the invoice price, which is beneficial to have if you are negotiating with the dealership.
Nancy Dunham is a life-long journalist whose work appears in many national automotive and general interest magazines and accompanying websites. Her dad was an executive with Western Auto Supply Co. (sold to Sears), so the smell of tires still brings back a flood of childhood memories. She lives in Austin, Texas with her cat Prudence.
2021 Nissan Kicks Gallery
Photos & Source: Nissan North America.
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