Rarely does a new vehicle debut with less power and capability than the model it’s replacing. Yet the Nissan Kicks compact crossover is hitting the market without all wheel drive and with less horsepower than its predecessor, the Juke.
AWD has become a staple of crossovers from almost all automakers. So, the decision not to offer it as an option is an interesting one. Will the new Nissan Kicks find a fan base in spite of its front-wheel-drive-only architecture and 1.6-liter 125-hp motor?
The answer may be yes for those seeking better fuel economy, more safety features, a starting price under $19K and a more conventional look than the Juke. The Kicks also gets standard tech features that millennials, Nissan’s target market, demand including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Up-level trims also offer headrest-mounted 2.5-inch Bose speakers.
For comparison, the base model 2017 Juke S has a 188-hp 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. While the Juke comes standard with FWD, it can be purchased with the optional AWD system. The Juke started at just over $20,000.
Safety-tech wonks will be pleased to hear that the Kicks comes standard with autonomous emergency braking and forward collision warning. If that’s not enough, SV and SR trims add blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The SR takes it one step further with Around View Monitor, which gives drivers a bird’s-eye view of the vehicle based on multiple cameras around the exterior, as well as LED headlights.
Nissan buyers who require AWD on a smaller crossover can still opt for the Rogue Sport, which might be preferred by those who live in areas prone to nasty winter weather. For drivers in sun-drenched traffic-prone parts of the country, the smaller dimensions of the Kicks will make for easier navigation of crowded highways and tight parking spots.
The Kicks is the first Nissan model to be sold here on a new global platform, which also underpins models in Brazil and Mexico.
The U.S. version will go on sale this spring. That’s good timing on Nissan’s part because by then icy roads will be behind us—at least until next winter.
Is AWD a must when shopping for a crossover?
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