The age-old saying that any press is good press is a sentiment that Nissan Motor Company is praying still holds some truth to it; that simply getting your name splashed across the headlines and receiving some notice is a benefit that outweighs any negative content in a story. You might even go so far as to say that the majority of their shareholders are hedging their bets on the validity of this idiom in hopes for the continued success and future of their company. The automotive manufacturer, and subsequently any Nissan dealer, has been embroiled in controversy as of recent since the November 2018 arrest of their Chairman Carlos Ghosn in regard to accusations of financial misconduct. Ghosn, credited with rescuing Nissan Motor Co from near-bankruptcy two decades ago, has claimed his innocence, but that has still left Nissan with no Chairman as well as being on the unfortunate side of the receiving end for all sorts of bad press. It looks as though Nissan, with or without former Chairman Ghosn, is committed to forging ahead and remaining a competitor in the auto market of today while still paving the way to a future of all-electric vehicle production.
New Year New Kicks
With the new year already in full swing, press centering around the indictment and accusations will soon be overcome by their 2019 scheduled release of Nissan’s answer to the call of the crossover market, the Nissan Kicks. The compact crossover, just released in 2018, is making waves among the critic circles for innovation and tech-friendly affordability all decked out in a hip, stylized compact vehicle, we know it sounds like an oxymoron. Not only is the Nissan Kicks set to dominate the compact crossover for 2019, but Nissan Motor Company has also released initial plans and design schematics for 8 new electric vehicles. Nissan makes the best-selling electric car in the world, the Nissan Leaf, with over 380,000 Leafs sold to date. Now in its second generation, Nissan is looking to expand their reach in the electric vehicle market. It’s definitely not all bad news for the shareholders and Nissan dealers; there is some good press to help shoulder the weight of their hedged bets on the “even bad press is good press” idiom. And what is the revolutionary company’s remedy for all the ill-willed, bad press? Nissan Motor company is prescribing a healthy dose of moving forward today by being a competitor in the crossover market while still investing in all-electric vehicle technology to remain a top-tier vehicle manufacturer in the automotive industry.
The 2019 Nissan Kicks is cool and knows you will think it’s pretty cool too. The compact crossover’s meta ability to acknowledge that it is trying to be hip by design only seems to make it even cooler. Either way you look at it, and you will definitely do a double take on this vehicle as it passes you by, consumers and critics alike are intrigued and have been flocking to this budget-priced crossover since its first release in 2018. Nissan is by no means attempting to take over the crossover market; the auto company has found a unique “in” or small, under-represented niche within the crossover market and is exploiting it to our benefit. No company offers a stylish budget-priced starter vehicle; well, no company but Nissan. By offering a moderately, budget-priced crossover that looks cool and is stacked with all the latest tech, your local Nissan dealer is probably offering what no other auto company is currently selling on the market today. Nissan has found an unexplored niche in a flooded market that will appeal to a younger demographic looking for a starter vehicle that is not a drab boxcar. You have got to hand it to the marketing and design department at Nissan; Kudos on the Nissan Kicks.
The Nissan Kicks is a different kind of crossover; this is not your Mom’s compact crossover. It’s fun, rad, even some might say quirky, and it is equipped with enough of the latest tech to keep smartphone-lifestyled new car buyers happy. The Kicks starts at $18,540 and barely tips the low $20,000 price range for the top-tier upgrade trim level. Aside from visual appeal, the small crossover has utility appeal to boot; it has the storage capacity to be a worthy outdoor companion lugging any gear from rock climbing equipment, camping supplies, or an assortment of personal backpacks thanks to 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space in the back. The Kicks manages some pretty roomy storage with comfortable seating for at least four, while maintaining its short statured wheelbase; the benefit, that means, is the crossover remains compact which makes it easier to drive in city traffic and can fit in car-sized parking spaces.
On paper, the Kicks’ 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine does not seem to amount to much, producing a slightly below average per its class 122 horsepower and 114 foot-pounds of torque. Really, no surprises here when you look at the price tag and what you miss in power and punch from your engine you will more than appreciate in dollars and cents in your wallet. With an estimated fuel efficiency rating of 31/36 mpg city/highway, drivers will save at the pump and spend less time searching city streets for or directing their daily route to a serviceable gas station. The crossover is manageable on highways, but when loaded up with four people and their gear, you will probably feel more comfortable staying in the right lane for the majority of your trip. The Kicks’ small engine is more at home come the offramp and when you hit the city streets. A number of critics have responded in surprising positivity to how the Kicks performs on city streets with the stop and go traffic of street lights and stop signs. The small engine seems to betray its on paper performance record as it easily zips through tight city streets and tight handling even when turning around traffic circles and great for quick U-turns for those opposing street-side parking spots you do not want to miss by turning the block.
Nissan has outfitted with Kicks with some standard safety driver assist feature like Automatic Emergency Braking and a rearview monitor that, surprise, you can actually see. If you move up a trim (to the SV model for an additional $1,710), the compact crossover gets close to the whole safety package with rear traffic alerts and blind spot alerts. For a meager $680 more to upgrade to the SR trim, drivers will also get an interior displayed 360-degree view of the car, an amenity typically reserved for luxury vehicles. The infotainment system essentially turns the Kicks into a driving smartphone, that is how integrated the smartphone lifestyle is to the design of the vehicle. The seven-inch touchscreen supports CarPlay and Android Auto but fails to include navigation, a hardly noticeable absence which is the result of targeting younger demographics natural use of Google Maps making other mapping systems obsolete. The system does have some lag on screen response but once again for the price tag and the included amenities, you will happily ignore any small delays in wait time from this system.
In an effort to encourage a positive outlook since the arrest of its former CEO Carlos Ghosn, Nissan announced at the start of 2019 its plans for eight new electric models to be released by 2022. The Leaf currently remains Nissan’s only widely available electric car. Nissan is quick to boast, though, that the Leaf is the best selling of all new cars in Norway, with 12,000 sold there last year, and the best selling electric car in Europe with 40,000 sold there last year. Nissan Motor Company also unveiled the specs and preliminary first looks at the Nissan IMs concept car, which offered a look at what Nissan plans beyond 2022. Nissan describes the IMs, which debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month, as an “elevated sports sedan.” For more info on the Nissan Kicks or any of the upcoming concepts be sure to check into your local Nissan dealer for the latest info.