Few vehicles are as much fun to drive as a compact SUV, for example, the 2020 Chevy Trax vs 2020 Nissan Kicks. They give you great fuel economy and are easy to handle, like compact cars, while also providing better handling in inclement weather due to their higher ground clearance. Compact SUVs also provide more space than your compact sedan or coupe, making them more comfortable for you and your passengers, and giving you greater cargo capacity. In short, they are an ideal vehicle for someone who wants the convenience of a compact car without giving up the advantages provided by an SUV. Needless to say, the public has caught on to the advantages afforded by compact SUVs and has made this one of the fastest-growing vehicle classes in the automotive industry.
Where the customers go, businesses will follow. This is definitely the case with the auto industry, and practically every major automaker now offers at least one compact SUV in its lineup. Two of these are Chevrolet and Nissan, which both offer some exceptional vehicles, including their offerings in the compact SUV class. Chevy has the Trax, which seats five inside a sporty and fun configuration. Meanwhile, Nissan offers the Kicks, which also seats five and has a really cool exterior profile. Both are affordably priced as well. However, there are some clear differences between the two vehicles, which will be addressed when we compare the 2020 Chevy Trax and the 2020 Nissan Kicks. The results may surprise you.
MSRP and Trims
The 2020 Chevy Trax has three trim levels and starts at an MSRP of $21,300. The base model is the LS, followed by the LT with an MSRP of $23,200. The LT adds a roof rack with side rails, deluxe cloth seating, remote vehicle start, and cruise control to the basic package. The top-of-the-line model is the Premier, and it adds leatherette seating, larger wheels, and a power sunroof, all for an MSRP of $27,600.
The 2020 Nissan Kicks also features three trim levels and has a starting MSRP of $18,870. The entry-level model is the S. The middle trim level is the SV with an MSRP of $20,500, and it adds 17-inch wheels. The top trim level is the SR, which adds LED headlights and a leather wrapped steering wheel for an MSRP of $21,120. The pricing levels favor the Nissan Kicks since you can get the top trim model for the same price as the Chevy Trax LS.
Engine and Performance
All 2020 Chevy Trax models come equipped with a 1.4-liter turbo ECOTEC 4-cylinder engine with variable valve timing (VVT). This feature improves the efficiency of the engine, allowing it to use less fuel to achieve the same performance. The engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and has been rated to provide up to 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. The Trax is front-wheel drive standard, with all-wheel drive available as an option.
The Trax LS and LT feature 16-inch painted aluminum wheels, with the Premier equipped with larger 18-inch aluminum wheels. The larger wheels on the Trax Premier provide a more comfortable ride and better road grip.
The 2020 Nissan Kicks features a 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine. In place of a standard transmission, the Kicks utilizes a continuously variable valve timing control system (CVTCS). This is supposed to improve engine performance and efficiency. The engine on the Kicks can provide up to 122 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque.
The Kicks S has 16-inch steel wheels, while the Kicks SV and SR have larger 17-inch aluminum wheels. As with the Trax Premier, the larger wheels on the Kicks SV and SR provide a more comfortable and controlled ride. All Nissan Kicks models are front-wheel drive only. There is no all-wheel drive option available.
There are three clear advantages to the 2020 Chevy Trax. First, the larger engine on the 2020 Nissan Kicks is underpowered, giving it a more sluggish feel than the one on the Trax. This may be due to the lower horsepower and torque on the Kicks’ engine, or it could be the interplay between the CVTCS system and the engine. Second, the CVTCS system on the Kicks has had problems, making the ride feel choppier. So, while the CVTCS is supposed to improve the performance and ride, it may, in fact, have the opposite effect. Finally, the lack of an all-wheel drive model of the 2020 Nissan Kicks makes it a poor choice if you live in an area that gets significant snow and ice during the winter.
The only advantage of the Kicks over the Trax is that it has a slightly better fuel economy. The Kicks is estimated to provide 31 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway (33 MPG combined), while the Trax provides up to 26 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway (28 MPG combined). This difference is not significant since both are clearly fuel-efficient vehicles.
The 2020 Chevy Trax is equipped with the Chevy Infotainment 3 System with a 7-inch color touchscreen. This features an integration of key information and entertainment modules, with a 6-speaker audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. If you choose the Trax LT or Premier, you will also get a trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio. Finally, the Trax Premier comes with a Bose premium 7-speaker audio system that is also available on the LT trim as an upgrade. This is an incredible sound system that really takes advantage of the interior design of the Trax.
The Nissan Kicks also comes with a 7-inch color touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity. However, the Nissan Connect system of infotainment features is only available on the Kicks SV and SR models. Therefore, if you want Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, or SiriusXM satellite radio, you will need to spring for the higher trim levels. Moreover, only drivers who choose the top trim level Kicks SR can have the option of paying for a Bose Personal Plus audio system with eight speakers, including Bose UltraNearfield driver headrest speakers. It appears that Nissan may have kept the price down on the 2020 Kicks by making many features optional upgrades.
One of the key challenges for designers of compact SUVs is to maximize the interior space. The last thing anyone wants is a cramped design that could render the rear seat all but unusable, making the vehicle a two-seater for all intents and purposes. To that end, one of these two vehicles has a clear advantage in this regard. The 2020 Chevy Trax provides 39.6 inches of headroom, 40.8 inches of legroom, 54.1 inches of shoulder room, and 51.7 inches of hip room in the front seat. The Trax also offers 38.8 inches of headroom, 35.7 inches of legroom, 52.8 inches of shoulder room, and 50.7 inches of hip room in the rear seat.
In contrast, the 2020 Nissan Kicks provides 40.7 inches of headroom, 43.7 inches of legroom, 53 inches of shoulder room, and 50.9 inches of hip room in the front seat. The Kicks has only 38.5 inches of headroom, 33.2 inches of legroom, 53.2 inches of shoulder room, and 49.1 inches of hip room in the rear seat.
Therefore, while the front seats are fairly comparable between the two vehicles, the Trax clearly provides a roomier rear seat than the Kicks, which can feel especially cramped if you try to squeeze in adult passengers.
The reason why this is surprising is that the Nissan Kicks is actually rated to have 93.9 cubic feet of passenger space, fully one cubic foot more than the 92.8 cubic feet of passenger space on the Chevy Trax. It appears that the designers of the Trax used a more efficient distribution of space in their vehicle. This carries over to cargo space, where the Trax has up to 48.4 cubic feet of space with the rear seat folded down as compared to the maximum 32.3 cubic feet of cargo space on the Kicks. Therefore, whether you are transporting people or things, the Trax will give you more space to work with.
Which Model Has the Overall Advantage?
When comparing the 2020 Chevy Trax vs 2020 Nissan Kicks, we found that the Chevy Trax was the better buy in most categories. It delivers a better engine, better standard features, and more second-row passenger space as well as cargo space.