Caraganza First Drive Review 2019 Nissan Kicks: Proving you can still get your Kicks on Route 66

(Nissan)

(Nissan)

I’m not a millennial; I don’t speak in emojis and I don’t text all that much. Nor do I speak with hashtags, WTF, IDK, or anything like that IRL.

But as I get older, I start to see more and more of this sort of stuff creeping into my world.  Especially when it comes to advertising.  Of course, I did fall out of that coveted 25-54 age group a couple of years ago, so I suspect advertisers don’t really care much about me anymore anyway.  I tend to ignore ads I see geared towards the younger generation.

I tend to make judgements (premature admittedly) based on these ads; especially car ads. Car ads featuring life-sized hamsters for instance. There is no way I would even consider a car featuring life sized animated rodents. The ad, and the car, are of course directed to the millennial with the emphasis on the hipness of the car; flashing lights, a premium sound system.  Things I care little about.

My first introduction to the Nissan Kick was through one of these ads. The ad was obviously directed to the younger generation and I, in turn, pretty much ignored it.  It was full of clips featuring a young man wearing headphones making the car come together with a heavy on the bass beats electronic soundtrack. No narration, no mention of what the car has under the hood; okay sure, whatevs.

The Nissan told me I was getting a 2019 Kicks for a week. ‘Great’ I thought sarcastically.

Boy was I in for a surprise.

The Kicks was introduced in 2018 to replace the Juke, which is a good thing. Although a fan of Nissan I wasn’t that big of a fan of the Juke. It was polarizing, and frankly I was pretty cold to it.

Like the Juke the Kicks isn’t really an SUV, nor is it really a crossover.  It’s about the size of a Golf, and more like, like, well like the Juke it replaced it can’t really be put into a category. It’s sort of like a niche car that is primarily designed for the urban landscape, which is where those millennials live while us older generation die off in the suburbs.

The best thing about the Kicks, no matter what category is the price.  More about that in a minute.

(Nissan)

(Nissan)

There are three trims: S, SV and SR. The S may be the lowest level but is still loaded with 16-inch steel wheels, roof rails, automatic headlights, hill start assist, forward collision warning with automatic braking, cruise control, air conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seats, Bluetooth, a 7-inch touchscreen, Siri Eyes Free integration, three USB ports, a rearview camera, and a six-speaker audio system.

The SV adds heated mirrors, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, keyless entry and ignition, remote start, a driver information display, interior chrome accents, padded front door armrests, automatic climate control with rear heater ducts, a cargo cover, satellite radio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration all atop 17-inch wheels.

The top of the line SR has LED headlights, foglights, black-painted mirrors, a rear roof spoiler, a surround-view parking camera system, upgraded cloth upholstery, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. You can add the optional SR Premium package adds an eight-speaker Bose audio system, simulated-leather upholstery and heated front seats.

No matter the level, under the hood the Kicks gets a 1.6-liter four-cylinder (122 horsepower, 114 pound-feet of torque) that sends power to the fron wheels via continuously variable automatic transmission. All-wheel drive, somewhat sadly, isn’t available.

So when Nissan sent me a 2019 SR for a recent week, I was of course, skeptical.  But when I first saw it, I was somewhat surprised.  This is not a bad looking vehicle. Unlike the Juke the design is far from polarizing and is actually based on the concept car first shown at the 2014 Sao Paulo Motor Show.  From the V-Motion grille up front past a ‘floating roof’ and a wide but cleverly hidden c-pillar back to the boomerang taillights, there’s a nice wide stance.

Inside the cabin is very well laid out with the 7-inch touchscreen well placed just above the center stack and climate controls.  There isn’t an available built-in navigation system, but there is still a great deal of tech including Bluetooth of course along with the aforementioned (optional) satellite radio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

Overall the cabin isn’t large but is far from confining. It’s actually quite comfortable.  The cargo space was also surprising; there is a lot especially with the rear seats folded down. And with the design of the rear tailgate there seems to be no issues with trying to shove a larger load into that spacious rear-end.

I was somewhat afraid that on the road the drive would be less than good; I questioned the 1.6 under the hood; 122 horses doesn’t sound like a lot (that’s actually down from 125 in 2018).  But as it turns out it actually powers the 2672 curb weight car just fine on the road.  No, it won’t give you a ‘kick’ in the seat (pun intended) but seems more than adequate for everyday driving.

Now for that price. What impressed me the most was the value the Kicks seems to have.  The base model, which seems nicely loaded starts at $17,990. My top of the line, fully loaded SR has an MSRP of $23,725.  This puts it below some of its competitors and made me like the Kicks even more.  Nissan may have what some consider better offerings (the Rogue Sport comes to mind) but with this price point the Kicks is a very good deal.

One final note: Despite the fact that it’s designed for city driving, the Kicks seems like it would work just fine in the good old suburbia, and on a long road trip. So there, take that you Nissan marketers. Despite your ads aimed at the younger generation, those of us who hate skinny lattes, beard oil, still live in the suburbs, and are eligible for AARP membership can like what it is you’re trying to sell. #TakeThat

The 2019 Nissan Kicks SR
MSRP: $20,870
MSRP (as tested): $23,725
Engine: 1.6 liter 125 hp @5800 rpm, 115 ft-lb torque @4000 rpm
Transmission: CVT w/OD
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 31 city, 36 highway, 33 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 34 mpg

Interior Dimensions
Passenger Capacity: 5
Passenger Volume (cu. ft.): 93.9
Front Head Room (in.): 40.7
Front Leg Room (in.): 43.7
Front Shoulder Room (in.): 53
Front Hip Room (in.): 50.9
Second Head Room (in.): 38.5
Second Leg Room (in.): 33.2
Second Shoulder Room (in.): 53.2
Second Hip Room (in.): 49.1
Cargo Volume to Seat 1 (cu. ft.): 32.3
Cargo Volume to Seat 2 (cu. ft.): 25.3
Cargo Volume to Seat 3 (cu. ft.): 25.3
Base Curb Weight (lbs.): 2672

Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase 103.1
Overall length 169.1
Overall width 69.3
Overall height 62.4
Track width Front / rear 59.8 / 60.4
Minimum ground clearance 7.0

Warranty
Basic Miles/km 100,000
Basic Years 5
Corrosion Miles/km Unlimited
Corrosion Years 5
Drivetrain Miles/km 100,000
Drivetrain Years 5
Roadside Assistance Miles/km 36,000
Roadside Assistance Years 3

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Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.

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