• Car Review

2020 Nissan Kicks Review

By Autolist Editorial | December 2, 2020

Quick Facts:


  • Affordably priced for the segment.
  • Generous cargo capacity.
  • Great fuel economy.


  • Only one engine available.
  • Tight back seats.
  • Lacks an all-wheel-drive option.

Would we buy one? Maybe.

Vehicle Type: Four-door, five-seat small SUV.

Price Range: From $18,870 MSRP to $21,120 MSRP, including a $1,095 destination charge.

Powertrain: A 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 122 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and front-wheel-drive.

Competitors: Chevrolet Trailblazer, Chevrolet Trax, Fiat 500L, Fiat 500X, Ford Ecosport, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Hyundai Venue, Jeep Renegade, Kia Seltos, Kia Soul, Mazda CX-3, Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota C-HR.

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Overall Score: 7.6/10

Safety Features: 8/10


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2020 Nissan Kicks four out of five stars for rollover crash tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave a Good overall score for the 2020 Kicks.

Active safety features for the 2020 Kicks include automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning. Moving up to the SV and SR adds a driver alert system that monitors steering and braking inputs to detect if the driver might be distracted or falling asleep.

The Kicks offers a generous amount of standard driver assistance features among its competitors, although the Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR are also comprehensively equipped.

Value: 8/10


The 2020 Nissan Kicks is undeniably a great value. Even the top trims, the SV and SR, come with all the features and upgrades and are attractively priced, making the Kicks a very accessible subcompact SUV for those looking at inexpensive new cars.

Three trim levels are available for the 2020 Nissan Kicks. They are the S trim, which starts at $18,870 MSRP. Next is the SV trim with start pricing at $20,500 MSRP. Finally, the top-tier trim level SR starts at $21,120 MSRP. Since the SR is still relatively affordable and comes with extras such as a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and a surround-view camera system, it's the model worth going after. Those features are unusual for this class, too.

Tech Features: 8/10


The 2020 Nissan Kicks uses a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity and three USB ports for devices. Stepping up to the Kicks SV trim will get you the NissanConnect infotainment system that includes an eight-speaker Bose audio system and satellite radio. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included. Remote start, keyless entry, and automatic climate control start on the SV trim as well.

The SR adds a surround-view camera for parking assistance that helps with safety, giving the driver a full 360-degree view. It can also be equipped with a speaker mounted in the driver's headrest for better sound, another unique feature in this class.

Practicality: 8/10


Front seats are comfortable with adequate legroom for adults, but the rear seats may be cramped for larger adults, and the vehicle is somewhat narrow to put three people across the back seat.

The Kicks boasts a relatively generous amount of cargo space for its size at 25.3 cubic feet behind rear seats and 53.1 cubic feet with them folded down. The rear seats do not fold completely flat, so this may limit the use of cargo space. It's better than models such as the Ford EcoSport but not nearly as good as the vast Honda HR-V.

Styling & Design: 7/10


Nissan took a simple approach with the Kicks' exterior design, even if some bright exterior color choices and other options liven up the appearance slightly. The Kicks SV trim gets bigger 17-inch alloy wheels over the smaller S trims 16-inch steel wheels.

The SR trim offers some high points such as a dark chrome grille, fog lights, a rear roof spoiler, and LED headlights to give a flashier appearance over lesser models. It also gets upgraded cloth interior trim or available faux leather upholstery. While there are some soft materials on the dashboard, the door panels are basic, and there are numerous hard plastics around places arms and elbows might land. The design is less imaginative than a Kia Soul's, for example.

Driving Experience: 6/10


The 2020 Nissan Kicks has a single engine and transmission setup capable of moving the car reasonably well. Still, the 122-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine may leave drivers wanting for the more powerful turbocharged engine found in the Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos, or Kia Soul. The Kicks performs reasonably well for its price, though, but it may struggle under hard acceleration. All-wheel-drive isn't available at all, which is odd for a subcompact SUV.

The Nissan is a competent handler, but not much more. It reaches its limits early and reveals its subcompact car roots quickly. The stability control system cuts in early, too. Again, the Kona or Seltos would be a better choice for more sophisticated handling.

Fuel Efficiency: 8/10


Fuel efficiency is definitely a strong point for the 2020 Kicks. It is above average for gas mileage and beats some rivals in the segment, rated at 31/36/33 MPG city/hwy/combined according to EPA estimates.

There are no hybrid options for the 2020 Kicks, but fuel economy is pretty good in the first place. But those who can take advantage of a plug-in model may be swayed by the Hyundai Kona Electric or Subaru Crosstrek plug-in hybrid for substantially more money.

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