2023 Nissan Kicks SR Review

This is no Juke

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Positives: One of the most affordable cars available today, practical and roomy interior, good safety tech suite.
Negatives: Not especially attractive exterior styling, underwhelming power output, no all-wheel drive available.
Bottom Line: The Kicks is what we'd consider to be a good value. It's also a great city car that can transport four adults. What it lacks is style and driving verve.
The Kicks replaced the strange but lovable Juke back in 2018. We're still scratching our heads because the Juke was truly unique for a crossover. The brand even made a racy Nismo version, and Nissan engineers even built a bonkers skunkworks 730 horsepower Juke-R out of one. The Kicks is a serious pivot from the Juke, and it is definitely more mainstream but lacks available all-wheel drive and loses 66 horsepower compared to the Juke. The Kicks errs on the side of frugality in terms of cost and gas consumption. More pluses include great safety tech, a solid in-car tech suite, and more room than it would initially appear. We drove the mid-pack SR for our first time ever behind the wheel of the Nissan Kicks. Read our full review below.

Driving Experience



Let's put it simply. You don't buy the Kicks for kicks. Yep, we said it. On the plus side, the Kicks is what we'd call competent, affordable transportation that works great as an urban commuter rather than an eater of highway miles or love of curves. It's also surprisingly comfortable to drive over most surfaces, but don't get ambitious and drive it off-road because there's no all-wheel drive, not even as an option.

Ride Quality: The suspension setup errs on the side comfy rather than sporty, and it manages bumps and gaps well for a small, economical vehicle.

Acceleration: There's no other way to put it. The Kicks is not for kicks. 0-60 comes in just under ten seconds, which feels like an eternity. The CVT does it no favors, either.

Braking: Brake modulation is good, and the Kicks stops well with good control and no nose dive.

Steering: The steering response is good, but there's pretty much no feedback coming through. There's mild effort, and it's on center on the freeway.

Handling: There's some body roll, but it's not overly dramatic. There's also some mild understeer going on, but it's manageable.




Nissan's infotainment is a lot like the Kicks in that it's no-nonsense. It lacks visual appeal, and it's on the small side (8-inches) in the SR (the base model gets a smaller 7-inch unit). Our tester also came with a 7-inch digital driver display that's next to an analog speedometer. There's also an electronic parking brake w/ auto hold and Nissan Connect with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Infotainment System: The infotainment system is easy enough to use with nothing complicated about navigating the menus. It's easy to read and doesn't pick up fingerprints easily.

Controls: Physical controls, we realize, exist because of the price point, but they're welcomed, nonetheless. The buttons that flank the infotainment screen work well, and we like the climate control knobs and the steering wheel buttons, all of which are easy to use while driving.




Even if you dress the Kicks up with black trim, it's hard to hide its rather unattractive exterior. The car is small on the outside but tries had to look tough and chunky with fender flares, body creases, and a floating roof. The result is an awkward-looking subcompact crossover. Inside, the Kicks is sporty and nicely appointed but not nearly as nice as the Honda HR-V.

Front: There are a lot of bold shapes in the front fascia, but it's overdone. Whereas the wolf spider look of the Juke was a bit crazy, it actually looked kinda cool. The Kicks, however, overdoes the shiny black and silver frame around the V Motion grille, and the deep set faux vents in the outboard positions are too dramatic for this slow puppy.

Rear: The back end is probably the Kicks' best angle, but there's still a lot of visual height going on despite the preponderance of horizontal lines. The V-shaped taillights look good, but the black framing in the rear glass makes the Kicks look too narrow in the top half.

Profile: The floating roof at the C-pillar ruins the side view, making the Kicks look awkward and undone. The kink/uptick at the back of the rear door doesn't help matters by abbreviating the greenhouse too early. The black trim is a bit too much for this very non-sporty vehicle. It might have been better to go with silver wheels.

Cabin: Interior styling is less trendy than the exterior design, but it the Kicks is well-built, looks grown-up, and has a user-friendly interior. Splashes of color throughout the cabin do a nice job of breaking up the monotony of what would otherwise be an all-black interior.




For such a small car, the Kicks does a pretty good job of making comfortable accommodations for four adults. An adult-sized rear seat means it can haul people and cargo without the cramped feeling one might experience in rivals such as the C-HR.

Front Seats: For an economy car, the Kicks actually has very good seats that provide a solid amount of cushioning, as well as decent bolstering.

Rear Seats: There are 33.5 inches of rear legroom. It's not huge, but real adults can sit in back. The middle position isn't bad thanks to a flat seatback and a decent cushion that doesn't protrude too much. Legroom for the middle position is lessened by the center console and HVAC vents for row two.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): As you guessed, this affordable crossover doesn't have the best sound deadening, so there is some road noise. The building quality seems good

Visibility: The visibility is good out the front and sides, but the rear side is obscured by the thick C-pillars.

Climate: The single zone climate control system works well, and the dash vents are well-sized for good airflow. The heated seats also work well, and we had no trouble getting it going during cold weather.




The Kicks earned decent test scores but didn't attain any awards or top rankings. It's offset by very good safety tech that's impressive for the price.

IIHS Rating: It hasn't been fully tested by the IIHS, but the Kicks did very well in the crash tests it went through and earned "good" in most of the categories with some "acceptable" rankings.

NHTSA Rating: The Kicks earned four stars out of five from the federal government.

Standard Tech: The Kicks SR comes with Automatic Emergency Braking w/ Pedestrian Detection, Intelligent Around View Monitor, Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Haptic Steering Wheel, Rear Sonar, High Beam Assist, Intelligent Driver Alertness, and Intelligent Cruise Control

Optional Tech: None.




The Kicks does well despite the fact that's it's a small vehicle. The small item storage in front is decent, but the rear passengers don't have big door pockets or anything in the armrests that can accommodate small items. Cargo space is actually quite good.

Storage Space: Front occupants have access to a cubby in front of the shifter, deep cupholders between the seats, and good-sized door pockets. The center armrest is medium-sized but has some good depth.

Cargo Room: The Kicks provides 25.3 cubic feet behind row two and 32.3 cubes with the seats folded flat. It's smaller than the Mazda CX-30 but larger than the Toyota Corolla Cross.

Fuel Economy



The Kicks got a rating of 31 mpg city and 36 mpg highway from the EPA. Our numbers were right about there in combined driving. The fuel tank (10.8 gallons) is small, so the efficiency helps. For a car this slow, it should be good when it comes to fuel consumption.

Observed: 33.8 mpg.

Distance Driven: 77 miles.




Our tester had the optional 8-speaker Bose premium system that came with the Premium Package for $1,390. It's a good, not great, system that also comes with a few other comfort options like heated seats and a heated steering wheel.

Final Thoughts

The Kicks is sensible transportation that will appeal to those who want (or need) to spend less but still get a good vehicle that's safe, easy to use, and fuel efficient. It's just too bad the Kicks is so damned slow and un-exciting to drive (and look at) when there are better cars out there like the Mazda CX-30 and the Kia Niro. For those looking for a decent car that won't break the bank, the Kicks will do.

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