Well-Equipped Trims. Despite having an affordable starting price tag of $20,925 with destination, the 2022 Nissan Kicks comes with a lengthy list of standard features. The base S trim comes standard with goodies that include a seven-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, three USB ports, and six audio speakers.

The SUV also comes equipped with a comprehensive list of standard safety features that are unordinary for the class. Nissan includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning as standard. The Kicks is also one of the few subcompact SUVs in the class to have standard forward and reverse automatic emergency braking.

For the best bang for your buck, the mid-level Kicks SV is the trim to choose. It adds a larger eight-inch touchscreen and a seven-inch digital instrument cluster for a tech upgrade, while adaptive cruise control and a driver attention monitor are also included. Additional convenience features include automatic climate control, remote start, keyless entry, satellite radio, and heated exterior mirrors. The SV doesn’t hit your wallet too hard either, costing an extra $1,850 over the base trim.

Spacious Cargo Area, Short On Passenger Space. In the subcompact class, the Kicks has one of the larger cargo areas. There are 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and a total of 53.1 cubic feet of cargo space. The major downside is that the Kicks’ rear seats don’t fold completely flat.

While the Kicks has a large cargo area, it’s down on passenger space compared to the competition. In the back, passengers get 33.4 inches of rear legroom. That’s enough for adults on a short trip but is down on space compared to the vehicles like the Honda HR-V and Kia Soul that have 39.3 and 38.8 inches of rear legroom respectively.

Nissan is known for having comfortable seats, but the Kicks missed out on the standard. Even the front seats, which tend to be some of the comfiest in any segment of the brand, miss the mark. They’re unsupportive and become uncomfortable on long drives. The rear seats are positioned in a way that requires passengers to sit upright, while the bottoms are hard and flat. These are some of the least uncomfortable seats in the class.

Economy Car MPG. The Kicks sips fuel like it’s a small economy car, not a subcompact SUV. While this comes at the expense of performance, we think most people will be fine with the compromise.

The Kicks has official fuel economy figures of 31 mpg in the city, 36 mpg on the highway, and 33 mpg combined. These are fantastic figures for the class. The most frugal options in the segment have a combined fuel economy rating of 30 mpg.

Fuel efficiency is one of the Kicks’ strong suits, but performance isn’t. The subcompact SUV’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine produces 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission. The Kicks accelerates at a leisurely pace, getting to 60 mph from a standstill in around 10 seconds. This makes accelerating up to highway speed a chore.

Front-Wheel-Drive Only. In the subcompact segment, the Kicks is one of the few options to only be offered with FWD. This isn’t a huge deal, as the SUV makes up for it with excellent fuel economy figures and a decent set of winter tires should make it plenty capable in winter conditions. But for consumers that want the extra safety that all-wheel-drive brings, the Kicks doesn't have it.

With the majority of rivals, offering AWD as an option, we think the commission hurts the Kicks’ appeal. AWD is now being offered on sedans, so not being able to get it in an SUV is a bit of a head-scratcher.

Final Thoughts. Few subcompact SUVs are as skilled as the Kicks at being primed for use in urban areas. On small, urban roads, the SUV’s main drawback of performance isn’t as big of a downside. Additionally, urban areas are better at clearing roads during winter months, which makes the lack of AWD a smaller issue. The Kicks’ long list of standard features and spacious cargo area help hide its pitfalls.

For comparison, the Mazda CX-30 is a subcompact SUV that feels luxurious and is sporty to drive. It’s available with far more powerful engines than the Kicks, more impressive tech features, and a premium cabin. The Kia Soul isn’t available with AWD, just like the Kicks, but it has an even more spacious cargo area, roomy rear seats, a rugged design, and more powerful engines.

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