On The Road

Getting your 'Kicks' in new Nissan hatchback

Courtesy of Nissan
The new Nissan Kicks features a four-cylinder, 1.6-liter engine with 125 horsepower.

For the person who needs basic urban transportation to and from work or class on a daily basis, doesn’t have a lot of money to spend and wants something fun to look at and drive, the 2018 Nissan Kicks is the perfect choice.

What we drove: The Nissan Kicks with SR premium options package; a small five-door hatchback with available vibrant two-tone color scheme.

What it cost: Sticker price for our Kicks with high-end SR package, plus premium options of Bose audio, Prima-Tex upholstery and heated front seats is $22,630, including destination and handling.

What powers it: Four-cylinder, 1.6-liter engine rated at 125 horsepower and 115 pound-feet of torque, driving front wheels through continuously variable transmission.

Safety and convenience: Standard stability and braking control systems, plus automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert system.

What we liked: The Kicks is exceptionally economical, with a low base price and fuel efficiency of 33 mpg in mixed driving. Exterior styling is trendy and innovative, and the interior is practical and pleasant. The driving experience is spirited and pleasant. The front-seat area is spacious and rear-seat space is adequate for two friends, with more than 50 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the rear seats folded. Although the car is small, it illustrates why a surround-view camera is essential.

What we would change: Lack of available all-wheel drive means this car should never leave the urban area for highways expected to be wet or snowy. Seats have short bolsters and unpadded backs, so taller people aren’t going to want to make long trips in this car. Acceleration and braking also are more suited to city streets than freeway speeds.

Bottom line: With the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems, the Nissan Kicks is as if your smartphone had grown wheels and seats and a big cargo hold, along with Bose surround speakers. While it’s not a good car to travel to an out-of-town school, it’s a great, inexpensive choice for commuting to a first job or urban campus.

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