With Nissan’s biggest SUV – the Armada — getting a refresh for 2021, it seems fitting that the same should happen to the Kicks, sat firmly at the other end of Nissan’s SUV/CUV spectrum.
So it should; the Kicks has proven a pretty popular vehicle among those looking for an alternative to a subcompact or compact hatchback. It shares a platform with the Versa Note hatch and while it still doesn’t offer an AWD powertrain, there’s lots of CUV-ness here to like, such as the high seating height, plastic cladding ‘round the fenders and rocker panels, and somewhat butchy bumpers.
Bumpers that, for 2021, have been redesigned to be more “voluminous” according to Nissan. They are complemented by an updated V-motion grille and much slimmer new headlights (we wouldn’t want a pair of overly large headlamp lenses to take away from the grille’s “voluminosty”, now, would we?) that use LED bulbs on the top-sec SR trim. That trim also gets newly-designed 17” wheels.
While the taillamp lenses haven’t change as much as the fronts have, they are now connected by a light bar to give the rear facia a wider look. Other stylistic changes include the eschewing of a white contrast-colour roof for a black one and adding three new two-tone and monotone colours. While you can still choose colours for certain aspects of your kicks such as the wing mirror caps and rear spoiler, there are no longer any contrast-colour roof options other than the black roof that comes as part of the two-tone colour patterns.
Inside, the Kicks retains the great high roof that provides oodles of noodle room (and up to 914.6 litres of cargo space) and the SR trim now gets a synthetic leather interior. Special Bose audio returns to the SR trim for 2021 (it places a speaker in the driver’s headrest), while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard on all trims: S, SV and SR. The latter two trims get an 8” display to the S’ 7” item.
Also standard for 2021 is Nissan Safety Shield 360 tech that provides automatic emergency braking both when moving forward or backing up, lane departure warning, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and high beam assist. A full 360-degree AroundView monitor is also available.
Power remains unchanged for 2020; that’s 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque from a 1.6-litre four-cylinder fed to the front wheels via a continuously-variable automatic transmission. These tend not to be the sportiest of transmission option, but Nissan has been doing the CVT thing for years and theirs is not the worst offender by a longshot. If things remains the same for 2021, expect the Kicks be a zippy, fun little runabout just as it’s always been. Having said that: with a vehicle like this, a manual transmission option would have been nice.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but if the current model is anything to go by expect a starting price of a just under $20,000, to just under $25,000 for the top-spec SR model.