2022 Nissan Kicks ideal for young drivers

Good fuel economy a perk of subcompact SUV.

Sometimes you have to admit when you’re too old for something. And this week’s tester represents that. I am not the targeted demographic for the 2022 Nissan Kicks. This is a beginner vehicle, aimed at first-time or young buyers.

Nothing about this subcompact SUV is aimed at a 40-something-year-old (almost 50 for that matter). Everything from the frilly, youthful design to the underpowered engine, screams first-time vehicle. But to be clear while it may not be the vehicle for me it doesn’t mean the Kicks is without merit. My job as your loyal automotive reviewer is to look at a vehicle for what it is, rather than what it’s not. When you do the former instead of the latter, things get a little better for the 2022 Nissan Kicks.

A quick read through Nissan’s PR materials about the Kicks sees plenty of mention of youth. When the Kicks was redesigned last year, Nissan used the word “energetic” to describe the new look. Obviously that’s PR spin, but still is fitting.

A major part of the previous model year redesign was the “floating roof” concept. Though this isn’t new in the car design world, it was new for the Kicks and adds an element of style and intrigue. Additional styling cues carryover from 2021 including a look Nissan describes as a “wrap-around visor” around the windscreen side glass. Black finish on the C-Pillar adds even more personality. You can’t accuse the Kicks of not having styling. It may be a little too youthful for some of us, but at least it stands out.

As mentioned, the Kicks makes for an ideal first car for a new driver. With an uninspiring, dull engine, it is perfect to keep drivers at posted speed limits. You won’t be drag racing off the line with the sluggish 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. It’s rated at a mere 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) may help make this engine even more fuel efficient but it adds to the overall pedestrian performance of this front-wheel drive compact SUV.

You can overlook the flaws for the sake of good fuel economy. The EPA rating for the 2022 Nissan Kicks is 31 mpg/city and 36 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of mixed suburban driving I averaged around 33 mpg.

All of the sluggish numbers and the frustrating CVT aside, the real plus of the Kicks is in its diminutive size. It’s ideal for urban dwellers and fitting into small parking spaces. As a daily driver, especially in a city dwelling, it’d be well-suited.

The interior the Kicks is improved over previous generations. Plus there’s more technology added to the Kicks. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is added for every trim of the 2022 Kicks. Also available for all trims is the NissanConnect Services – a suite of convenience and security features that includes an available Wi-Fi hotspot, remote vehicle commands like keyless entry, and safety features including Automatic Collision Notification.

The D-shaped steering wheel isn’t just aesthetically interesting, it feels great in your hand. The back seat had ample legroom for such a small vehicle. I had two adults back there who reported they quite comfortable. The cargo area is also impressive with 25.3 cubic feet of space behind the second-row. The overall cargo area expands to 53.1 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.

My tester was the Kicks SR with the Premium Package, which includes a Bose sound system and audio experience that Bose calls “360 degrees of immersive sound.” Again that’s PR spin, but yet still applicable. I may be an old guy, but I still love to crank up the stereo and a great sound system goes a long way in my book. Especially if tones out the noticeably loud road and engine noise.

There are three trims available for the Kicks including the S, SV and SR. My tester was the top-of-the-line SR trim with the aforementioned Premium Package. The SR trim adds LED headlights and foglights, black exterior mirrors (that match the C-pillar), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, SR specific fabric and trim accents and front and rear bumpers with body color inserts. There’s even a rear spoiler to add a sportier, youthful appearance. As such, the SR is the most attractive of the trims.

Even as the most-expensive trim, the Kicks SR has a starting price of $22,550. With options, including the aforementioned Premium Package, the final MSRP of my tester was $25,285.

Some days I feel older than am and some days I have a little extra swagger. Driving something youthfully-minded like the Nissan Kicks adds a little pep in my step, which is good because there’s very little pep in the performance.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at jimmydinsmore73@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2022 Nissan Kicks SR

Price/As tested price................................................ $22,550/$25,285

Mileage.......................................... 31 mpg/city; 36 mpg/hwy

Engine............................................. 1.4-liter 4-cylinder

Horsepower................................. 122 hp/114 lbs./ft.

Transmission................................. CVT

Drive Wheels................ Front-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point................ Aguascalientes, Mexico

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