With the demise of the Juke SUV and Versa hatchback, a gap opened up in the Nissan lineup. The 2021 Nissan Kicks fills that void with plenty of attitude and style. It’s not just the vivid colors that appeal to a younger audience. It’s also the low price-point, value, and appreciable fuel economy that set this compact SUV apart.
To help you decide if the 2021 Kicks is the right model for you, we’ve put together the following review. Within the next few paragraphs, you’ll learn how the 2021 Kicks stacks up in competition, the exact fuel economy numbers, standard and optional safety features, and of course, the names of those vibrant colors that set the 2021 Nissan Kicks apart from the rest.
Nissan fits the 2021 Kicks with a singular engine. Paired to the Xtronic continuously-variable transmission (CVT), the 1.6-liter powerplant puts out 122 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive is the only configuration available. That’s a bit unfortunate for anyone hoping to get the Kicks in all-wheel-drive. However, the lack of AWD or a more powerful engine does keep the Kicks at an affordable price.
Nissan produces the 2021 Kicks in the following colors.
- Electric Blue Metallic
- Scarlet Ember Tintcoat
- Boulder Gray Pearl
- Gun Metallic
- Super Black
- Aspen White TriCoat
- Fresh Powder
Scarlet Ember Tintcoat, Electric Blue Metallic, Boulder Gray Pearl, Aspen White TriCoat, and Monarch Orange Metallic can all be paired with Super Black for a two-tone look.
Trimlines and Pricing
Below are the expected available trim levels on the 2021 Nissan Kicks. While official prices for the 2021 model haven’t been announced yet, we can make a strong educated guess based on the 2020 model numbers.
With a starting price of $20,595, the base Kicks model includes features such as a seven-inch touchscreen, zero-gravity seats, 16-inch wheels, roof rails, Bluetooth, push-button start, keyless entry, and steering-wheel mounted controls. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto round out the list of standard equipment on this base model.
Choose the SV model for automatic climate control, an eight-inch touchscreen, 17-inch wheels, and disc brakes all around. Remote start is available as well, along with two USB-C charging ports. We expect the SV model to start right around the $22,000 mark.
Premium features on this top-tier trim include LED lights all around, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rear roof spoiler and upgraded fabric seating. The Premium Package will cost you a bit more, but you’ll enjoy the eight-speaker Bose Audio system with 2.5-inch UltraNearfield neodymium speakers at the back of the driver’s headrest. The most expensive Kicks should start round $23,000.
If you’re not satisfied with the color palette available as listed above, you can also check out the Kicks Color Studio. After choosing the trim level you want, you’ll be able to pick colors for various pieces. You can customize the door handle covers, rearview mirror backing, air vents, floormats, and so much more. You can truly mix and match colors on your 2021 Kicks to the full extent of your imagination.
The 2021 Kicks has not yet been rated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Considering the car isn’t even quite available to the public yet, this isn’t a surprise. However, we can assume a lot by looking at the 2020 Kicks, since there are no major changes to the shape or build.
The NHTSA awarded the 2020 model 4 out of 5 stars overall in terms of safety. The only real blemish was the Front Passenger Side rating of 3 out of 5 stars. The less-than-perfect rating probably stems from results related to that test. The IIHS gave the 2020 Kicks mostly top-ranked “Good” scores. Their only gripe was that the headlights could have offered more visibility in dark driving conditions.
Nissan’s version of standard safety features goes by the name of Safety Shield 360. These from-the-factory systems include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, and high beam assist.
The EPA reports that the 2020 Kicks achieves 31 city and 36 highway miles per gallon (MPG). With the same engine and only small cosmetic changes in the 2021 model, those numbers should hold true. The combination of a small displacement engine and a compact platform lend themselves to great mileage numbers. The Kicks is a great choice for anyone wanting a small SUV that’s excellent on gas.
The newest “entry-level Nissan crossover” faces stiffer competition than its sedan siblings. Whereas the Sentra, Altima, and Maxima provide a broad spectrum of four-door family sedans, the 2021 Kicks must contend with a number of brands in the compact SUV segment. Popular models include the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-3, and the Chevrolet Trax, to name a few. Others compare the 2021 Kicks to the upcoming Volkswagen Taos. However you slice it, the 2021 Kicks must tick a lot of boxes if it wants to triumph over some of these heavy-hitters.
Luckily, there are a few things the 2021 Kicks does really well. For example, Kelley Blue Book appreciated the “generous standard driver assists” and “excellent fuel economy.” The model is perfect for anyone looking to get a bit higher off the ground than they would with a sedan, without having to increase their parking footprint. A bit of a style refresh adds a “slightly more aggressive look in line with the rest of Nissan’s SUV lineup,” says CarAndDriver. As much as we’d love to continue the praise, there are a few negatives that reviewers needed to point out.
Forbes put the 2021 Kicks in its place by saying “this really is just a car replacement and is no way intended to be an off-road vehicle.” The lack of all-wheel drive supports this conclusion. However, if you only plan on using this vehicle on the pavement, it might not be a deal-breaker.
In a contest between the 2021 Kicks and the Honda HR-V, Edmunds declared the HR-V “the undisputed subcompact cargo king.” Unimpressive handling and throttle response, a “drab and plasticky” interior, and a sub-par rearview camera resolution left the Edmunds team wanting more from the Kicks. And perhaps finding it elsewhere in the segment.
The Last Word
The 2021 Kicks certainly draws eyes wherever it goes. From the floating roofline to the colorful paint schemes, it promises to be an SUV that you can enjoy. The Kicks packages together all the things that made the Juke and Versa popular, while bringing a new spin to the boring old SUV platform.
We encourage you to visit your local Nissan dealership to test drive the 2021 Kicks when it arrives. Then compare to some of the competing models we’ve mentioned. When you balance out all the pros and cons, the Kicks might be exactly the vehicle you’re looking for in the price range you need. The 2021 Kicks is scheduled to go on sale in February 2021. Keep an eye out for more details on the model as the release date approaches.