Buyers scouring the internet for low-priced SUVs may be facing a number of options that look and feel cheap, despite having to drop between $20-30k to buy them new. Car prices in today’s market are steep, but there is at least one low-priced crossover that delivers quality without a heart-stopping price tag: the 2021 Nissan Kicks. Nissan may not be on your list of go-to options when you consider a new vehicle, but maybe it should be. This manufacturer is getting more focused on technology interfaces and is embracing connectivity in a more holistic way than many of the top manufacturers today.
For the starting MSRP of $19,500, you gain a lot of standard equipment like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless entry with push-button start, and a long list of driver-assisted safety features that includes technology most manufacturers only make available for upper trims. Comfort may not be high on every buyer’s list, but if you happen to drive long distances often, it helps to have seats that make your trip less painful, a feature the Kicks offers in spades. The 2021 Kicks is best for those who plan to drive on the pavement and are really looking for the larger cargo and higher profile of an SUV, rather than off-road performance. But when you start building your Kicks online, you get to have a little dance party. More about that later. First, let’s dig into the interior of the 2021 Nissan Kicks.
Get Comfy and Connect
If you are a person who has been relegated to buying vehicles at low price points, you’re probably familiar with uncomfortable seats. Unless you find yourself a great deal on a used cream puff luxury car, low-priced cars almost always equal low-budget seats that nobody enjoys on long trips. Nissan is changing the game for those of us who find ourselves buying a car on a budget, with comfortable seats. Nissan calls them “zero gravity” front seats and says they are made to help reduce fatigue. What’s also thoughtful is the armrest for the driver’s seat, which folds down, a boon for drivers with shorter limbs who prefer not to have to hold their arms out straight for hours on the road. That spells fatigue.
Seats aside, you get decent technology to pair with the audio system in the 2021 Kicks, starting with the standard seven-inch touchscreen for the infotainment. The standard connectivity for smartphones and hands-free Bluetooth is great, but in upper trims, you get Sirius XM and the option to add a very slick Bose sound system that includes speakers in the driver’s headrest. You can also have the option to add a hotspot. What’s a little more innovative is the “intelligent” key which comes with the two upper trims. Buttons on the key fob allow for several functions beyond just keyless entry: it keeps track of two driver’s seat memory settings, allows custom settings for locking with or without sound, and has a hidden key to use in case the fob battery dies.
Safety Is Sweet
Most new vehicles come with at least a few driver-assisted features, but few manufacturers have such a generous list of technology for a low-priced model like the 2021 Kicks. Go beyond the entry-level trim, and you can gain a few sweet features that you might want to spring for if you buy this SUV. But first, the safety features you get standard come in a package Nissan calls Safety Shield. It includes a few of the typical features we now expect in new vehicles, like Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Warnings can be good, but Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection is better. And then Nissan tacks on Rear Automatic Braking, which you almost never see in vehicles of this price range. In fact, you don’t see this feature in most vehicles that are much pricier.
Other standard features like the usual RearView Monitor, hill start assist (which just keeps your car from rolling backward on a hill), and stability and traction control are all there. Still, then Nissan adds automatic high beams and a rear sonar system. Once again, Nissan goes above the board with safety. Select the second tier of trims, and you can have Intelligent Cruise Control and Intelligent Driver Alertness. Up in the third trim, you get the coolest feature of all with the Integrated Dynamics Control Module. This feature incorporates several steering and braking functions, along with an engine brake that act as a driver assistance feature during your entire driving experience. It will tweak your performance on turns and cornering, but also when you need to swerve or avoid rolling. In general, it will make you look like an awesome driver.
Party While You Get Your Kicks
If you like the idea of customizing your Kicks with a lot of edgy finishing touches, the Kicks Color Studio is a really creative way to interact with adding color to your SUV. In fact, you may find it hard to settle on color options once you start playing around with the party music that layers with every single color you add. If you ever watched Steve Aoki spin for a massive crowd and wished you could be so cool – well, that may be going too far, but the color studio does make it fun to mix beats. Every color has its own designated beat, and when you choose different colors on each of six screens, you get a different mix of music. I mean, that’s pretty fun, but there’s more.
It’s not limited to the exterior detailing like the spoiler and wheels; you actually get to add color to the vents on the interior, too. When the studio moves to the vehicle interior on the screen, the music sounds muffled, as if the stereo is on the outside of the car. It’s a detail that makes it more fun to interact with on the screen, just for those of us geeks who enjoy goofing around with mixing tunes. If you choose to utilize this feature, it’s good to know that you’ll need to pony up a few thousand in extra cash for the customized colors. Such a cool effect may be worth it, so you can drive around town with a totally unique style of detailing all your own. To try this feature, go to the Nissan website and click on the “color studio” button on the top image, or scroll down to click “remix your Kicks.” See if you can stop with just one mix. Bet you can’t.
One More Reason to Get the Kicks
While pricing, technology, and safety are all great reasons to give this five-seat SUV consideration, there are other positive points that come with this small package. Because of the engine type, the 2021 Kicks is economical with fuel. It gets 31 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway, which is fairly high for an SUV of any size. Drawbacks are that it doesn’t have the option of all-wheel drive, and the engine may not offer the most pep for passing on the highway, but this is a vehicle made for city streets with a small footprint that’s great for parking easily. If your concern is comfort, connectivity, and safety, then the 2021 Nissan Kicks deserves some thought with its new exterior styling and the option to mix and match your Kicks the way you want it.