Style on a budget is possible. Nordstrom Rack proves as much. So does the 2020 Nissan Kicks.
The 2020 Kicks is a compact crossover that costs less than $20,000 in base versions. It’s front-wheel drive only and not particularly fast, but it’s inexpensive—cheap in some ways—and fuel-efficient with a big touchscreen. It gets a 5.2 TCC Rating, which is slightly above average, largely based on those latter two qualities. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
This year, all Kicks crossovers get automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and lane-departure warnings as standard equipment. The Kicks is offered in S, SV, and SR trim levels from less than $20,000 to more than $22,000.
Review continues below
Its best look is outside the car, where it hits all the trendy notes like a Katy Perry album. Floating roof? Check. Chunky wheel arches? Check. Big grille? Yep.
Inside, it’s a bit of a letdown with a plain interior with cheap plastics, hard surfaces, and even worse carpeting. It’s hot and it’s cold. See: Katy Perry.
The powertrain is comparatively better, for what that’s worth. The only engine is a 1.6-liter inline-4 that makes 122 horsepower teamed to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The duo returns 32 mpg combined, according to the EPA, and the Kicks is relatively bright around town. At highway speeds, the Kicks runs out of legs and making a pass takes time. A lot of time.
The Kicks’ cabin is good for two, but not many more. The back seat is suitable for small adults and children, but only two. There’s good cargo space behind the second row, even more when the seats are folded, which is better for young couples, first-time buyers, or empty-nesters.
The IIHS gave it mostly top “Good” scores on its crash-test battery, and called the Kicks a Top Safety Pick when equipped with headlights in the top trim. Federal testers weren’t as kind. The Kicks gets automatic emergency braking in all versions, which finds its way into our good graces.
Base Kicks aren’t bad, but we’d opt for a Kicks SV for $21,595. It gets the same 7.0-inch touchscreen as the rest of the lineup but adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility (which doesn’t appear on base versions), automatic climate control, and 17-inch wheels.