Prefacing the Kicks was the Juke, that homely, frog-looking thing that vexed dealers for seven years before it was finally put to rest. Thankfully, the Kicks doesn't wear any of its predecessors' design language, and we're happy to report that from no angle does it appear even remotely amphibious. Instead, the Kicks looks decidedly modern, offering that baby, traditionally masculine styling currently in vogue.
The nicely sculpted character lines also belie this front-driver's lack of capability, and the abrupt rise of the beltline at the back of the of the rear door helps convince onlookers that the Kicks is less a Versa-based hatch and more of a true crossover. All trims use blacked-out pillars to give the impression of the also-trendy floating roof. Overall, the sheetmetal of the Kicks has just enough verve to draw in style-conscious shoppers.
While the exterior is playful and novel, the interior is anything but. You can't expect greatness in a car with an 18-grand sticker price, but we were disappointed with the materials, comfort, and compromises that were rampant within the Kicks. For instance, the rear seats fail to fold flat, making it difficult to utilize the 53 cubic feet of total cargo space that's technically available when they're dropped. And at just 49 inches of rear hip room and 51 inches up front, it's also noticeably narrow inside – don't expect to stuff three adults abreast in the second row. In both rows, the materials used are all subpar at best. Look around and it's nothing but a hodgepodge of somber black plastic, mouse-fur carpet, and a sad-looking headliner. We get that this car was built to deliver a hearty feature count at an affordable price, but it's too bad that even top-spec SR trims couldn't have had a little fun with the look and feel of the Kicks' innards.
At least there's enough features here to make a stripper BMW blush. Base models get niceties like a seven-inch touchscreen, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and a rearview camera. SV trims step it up with Apple CarPlay, 17-inch wheels, blind-spot monitoring, and keyless entry; top-shelf SR models come with heated seats, headrest-integrated speakers, a Bose audio system, and LEDs. On a feature-per-dollar analysis, it's hard to beat the Kicks.