5 things to know about the 2018 Nissan Kicks

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2018 Nissan Kicks (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

The all-new 2018 Kicks marks the sixth utility vehicle in the Nissan lineup. It is the smallest and least expensive of the utilities and falls under the Rogue Sport, which was introduced last year.

Nissan is targeting a younger audience that is either single or doesn’t have kids, yet Kicks provides adequate tech options, excellent cargo volume and comfortable ride and handling – all for a surprisingly affordable price.

Here are five things you should know about this all-new vehicle from Nissan.

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is not standard

The base trim for the Kicks is the S, and while it includes features such as Bluetooth phone pairing, automatic headlights and push-button start, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t included with the 7-inch color touchscreen display.

I’m not sure I understand the rationale here, especially since Kicks is targeting a tech-savvy and young buyer.

But if you want this phone-mirroring software that makes voice-to-text easy, you’ll have to upgrade to the SV trim and add nearly $1,500 to the price tag.

Autonomous emergency braking is standard

Safety is king these days, and now that rearview monitors are standard on all vehicles, the next push in standard safety technology is for autonomous emergency braking.

While this is available on a lot of high-end vehicles, it’s not always standard. So, when you have an entry-level compact utility vehicle that adds this for free, it’s kind of big news.

Phone calls through the vehicle are high-quality

Whenever I’m in a test vehicle, I typically plug in or sync up my phone and call my husband to see not only how easily I can make a call via voice command but also how good I sound on the other end.

I ask him to rate each vehicle subjectively on a 1-to-10 scale, and his average rating is around a 6. His top rating thus far has been a 9 – and of all vehicles that was on a Ford Mustang Convertible.

His rating on the Kicks was an 8 – which is high praise. The only other vehicle that received such a rating from my husband in recent testing is the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta. Vehicles costing twice the price of the Kicks have received far lower scores.

From my end, the reciprocal audio came through loud and clear via the speakers in the sound system.

Kicks is a front-wheel-drive-only vehicle

When you think of a utility vehicle, you might think that’s synonymous with all-wheel drive. But it isn’t.

And while a lot of SUVs may start with front-wheel drive, several of them at least offer all-wheel drive in up-level models. But the Kicks does not.

The trade off, however, will be an overall lower price tag and excellent fuel economy (Kicks is rated at 33 mpg in combined driving).

Base price is under $19K

Nissan considers Kick’s competitive set to be the Kia Soul ($17,095), Hyundai Kona ($20,480) and Ford EcoSport ($20,990).

At first glance, they seem competitive at a base level, considering the fact that the base price of Kicks is $18,985 with destination.

But when you break down the pricing of various features, the Kicks comes out on top considering none of the previously mentioned vehicles have standard automatic emergency braking – it’s not even available on the EcoSport.

Features such as blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and heated front seats will add $2K to $7K to the price tag depending on the vehicle and the feature.

The Bottom Line:

The all-new Kicks is on sale now, and it is priced to beat its competitors in the compact utility segment. While it doesn’t offer all-wheel drive or an up-level engine, it does have standard automatic emergency braking and three USB ports.

The Kicks is easy to drive and has a decent amount of amenities. And when you consider the fact you’ll top out under $24K, Nissan may well have a winner on its hands.