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2022 Nissan Kicks Review: One Compromise Too Many

2022 Nissan Kicks
Photo: D.Rufiange
The Kicks is an interesting model, but it requires compromises that not everyone might be ready to make Automotive expert , Updated:
2022 Nissan Kicks, profile
2022 Nissan Kicks, profile
Photo: D.rufiange

Auto123 reviews the 2022 Nissan Kicks.

They say that life is full of compromises. It’s hard to argue with the truth of that. There are compromises and trade-offs to make at work, as a couple, with family and friends. You can't always get what you want, say the Rolling Stones.

However, when you buy a vehicle, you can actually try to get everything you want. And many automakers offer models that have the potential to meet all your needs.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to include the Nissan Kicks among those. This model has a lot to offer consumers, but it requires some compromises. Some of them you can live with, but to me, one of them is a line in the sand.

But whether it is for you depends on your needs and preferences, of course.

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2022 Nissan Kicks SR
2022 Nissan Kicks SR
Photo: Nissan

Let’s agree that in recent months inflation has been a hot topic of conversation - and a top concern for many, with reason. The automotive market is no exception. The shortage of certain models is creating a bidding war and the used car market in particular has been red, red-hot. Vehicles are selling for more after a year on the road than when they were new!

This right away makes the Kicks an intriguing option, because it’s an affordable vehicle when that species is increasingly endangered. The Kicks is reasonably priced, practical, and even fun to drive.

The offer has potential.

Three versions, five models
If you're interested in the Kicks, there are three versions of the model waiting for you: S, SV and SR. The latter two are offered with a package - Special Edition for the SV, Privilege for the SR.

Pricing starts at $22,243 and tops out at $27,443, which is a reasonable range for five variants. With the base configuration, the equipment includes decent items like heated mirrors, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto apps and blind spot warning. However, you have to compromise by foregoing two features that are becoming almost expected as standard these days: heated seats and steering wheel. To take advantage of them, you have to upgrade to the SV version. The catch is that the model sells for $3,000 more than the base version.

That repeats itself as you climb the trim ladder. At the top of the pyramid, the SR Privilege model offers a comprehensive list of equipment, including a Bose audio system with speakers integrated into the headrests. That's pretty interesting.

Each version has its own compromise. However, it's possible to make do with them. If a feature you want is not on your list, you can always find it by moving up in the range. Otherwise, you make a sacrifice. At least, buyers have a choice.

What we would like to see is more options, such as heated seats on the base model or a premium audio system, addable to the model of your choice.

2022 Nissan Kicks, three-quarters rear
2022 Nissan Kicks, three-quarters rear
Photo: D.Rufiange

The other trade-offs
When you choose the Kicks, you make two other compromises. First, you don't get all-wheel drive - none of the models offer it. Again, for some buyers, this is not an issue, while for others, it's a major one. The choice is theirs to make.

The other big sacrifice you make is that you're forced to deal with a vehicle that is simply underpowered. The Kicks is powered by a 1.6L 4-cylinder engine that tries hard but comes up a little short. Around town, that doesn’t really pose any problems - you accelerate smoothly and the continuously variable transmission (CVT) doesn't have time to lament too much. But when you jump on the highway or any other road where the speed limit is higher, things get worse. There’s no beating around the bush here: an engine that only offers 125 hp and 115 lb-ft of torque is not, in 2022, enough.

And I was able to confirm this more than once during the two weeks I spent driving a 2022 Kicks in California. On the highways there, things move fast (120 to 130 km/h on average) and highway entries must be made quickly. On several occasions, I didn't have enough room to reach the desired speed to merge into the traffic. As for passing and other quick acceleration manoeuvres, they were laborious.

This is the kind of compromise I'm not so keen on, because it affects safety.

2022 Nissan Kicks, interior
2022 Nissan Kicks, interior
Photo: D.Rufiange

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From this author

Daniel Rufiange
Articles By
Daniel Rufiange
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists