First drive: 2019 Nissan Kicks [Review]
-------------------------------------------- The models (which will soon likely be superseded by even smaller offerings) at these fringe ends of the market are up against some serious hurdles, but the most fundamental of them is cost. It's getting harder and harder to make smaller cars that are actually cheaper given that customers have grown accustom to certain features, especially once you start talking about price point. That's where things get tricky.
Take the 2019 Kicks. It's on the same fundamental platform as the Nissan Versa Note (Most of these baby CUVs share fundamental architecture with subcompact hatchbacks), so it's small. Again, not unique. However, the next question becomes one of price. Unlike many offerings this size, the Kicks is exclusively offered with front-wheel drive. That keeps it cheap. It also seriously narrows down the competitive field.
A challenger approaches
Nissan presents the Kicks' competition as the Ford EcoSport, the Hyundai Kona, and the Kia Soul. The first two are available with all-wheel-drive, so we're skeptical. The Kia Soul is more of a funky hatchback than a crossover, even if Kia is subtly hinting that maybe it's kind of the latter.
By the numbers, it's a lock. The Kicks is powered by a 1.6L four-cylinder making 125 horsepower and 115lb-ft of torque. As we mentioned before, it's available exclusively in front-wheel-drive and with just one transmission: a CVT. It's a five-seat, four-door, cross-hatch (can we make that a thing?) and weighs less than 3,000 pounds. We wish there was more to say to embellish the situation, but it is what it is.
So far, it looks like advantage: Toyota. But there's more to a car than simple numbers, right? The Kicks also boasts funky styling (oh), interesting two-tone paint combinations (oops), and a torsion-beam rear suspension (uh-oh). It's also available with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
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