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A person is shown approaching a teal 2025 Nissan Kicks SR under a new car alert banner.

The 2025 Nissan Kicks Is All Grown Up

The subcompact SUV segment has been evolving rapidly over the past few years. Once viewed as the budget option for shoppers who couldn’t afford anything better, subcompacts are now increasingly capable and comfortable vehicles aimed at commuters and other drivers who simply don’t want something larger even if they can afford it. However, this rapid shift in focus has left a handful of models living in the past––particularly the Nissan Kicks. The 2024 model is, putting it charitably, an underpowered, overgrown hatchback that stands out solely for its remarkably low starting price.

The good news is that Nissan has decided that a radical redesign was in order for the 2025 Nissan Kicks. Among the many changes made for the new model year are a bulkier body, a more powerful engine, and significantly improved technology. There is even a lively new color palette that includes a daring (by automotive standards) two-tone scheme with a dull gray body, bright red roof, and mirror caps. The redesigned 2025 Kicks is clearly taking aim at popular options like the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-30, and Toyota Corolla Cross. The question is, can it deliver?

Starting From Scratch

When the Kicks first hit the market for the 2018 model year, it represented a more subdued replacement for the polarizing Nissan Juke. While the Kicks tried to maintain some of the youthful demeanor of its predecessor with bright colors and active styling, the underpinnings were decidedly disappointing. A 1.6L four-cylinder borrowed from the budget-oriented Nissan Versa subcompact sedan was the only engine available, and with just seven inches of ground clearance and front-wheel drive as the only powertrain option, the Kicks was decidedly lacking when it came to the “sports” and “utility” parts of the SUV designation. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the vehicle is that sales have somehow remained steady throughout its six years on the market.

However, with an increasingly capable crop of new subcompact SUVs showing up on the market and the retirement of the Nissan Rogue Sport after 2022, it was clear that Nissan needed to step up its game. In fact, the new 2025 Kicks can almost be thought of more as a Rogue Sport replacement rather than an update of the Kicks that we know today. The 2025 model is roughly the size of Nissan’s discontinued subcompact, offering a best-in-class 60 cu.ft. of cargo space. It is also powered by a similar 2.0L engine, producing 16% more horsepower than the old 1.6L. Available all-wheel drive and a best-in-class 8.4 inches of ground clearance round off the major mechanical differences and significantly improve the vehicle’s capabilities.

A close up shows the steering wheel and infotainment screen in a 2025 Nissan Kicks.

More Screens, More Features

It seems that you can’t have a new model announcement these days without bigger screens headlining the list of features, and the 2025 Nissan Kicks is no exception. The model still comes standard with a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, but the optional upgrade has been supersized from 8.0 inches to 12.3 inches. That handily beats the 11.0-inch displays in the GM subcompacts like the Chevy Trax and Buick Envista and even the 11.6-inch screen in the Subaru Crosstrek. However, Nissan wasn’t content with just having the largest infotainment display in the segment and doubled down by pairing it with a matching 12.3-inch driver display. If you like lots of screens, the 2025 Kicks might just be the subcompact SUV for you.

However, this is more than just a rolling computer lab. Nissan has done its homework and outfitted the new Kicks with many additional comforts designed to offer a more premium experience. For instance, a panoramic sunroof, a Bose ten-speaker sound system, and 19-inch alloy wheels are all available options for the first time. Unfortunately, these high-end features are all restricted to the upper trims. The base S trim is still rather bare-bones, with a urethane steering wheel, a four-speaker sound system, and 16-inch steel wheels. This suggests that the 2025 Kicks will retain a relatively low starting price, but we expect the upper trims will likely carry a significant premium.

Is This the Kick It Needs?

The Nissan Kicks has been bringing up the rear of the subcompact SUV segment for a few years now, and even its low price was not enough to recommend it over other options. With the redesigned 2025 Kicks, that has changed. While a lot will depend on the exact price point that Nissan delivers, the new model is shaping up to be a competitive offering in a growing segment.

With solid ground clearance, plenty of cargo space, and available all-wheel drive, it has all the utility that the previous generation lacked, and the new design is considerably more attractive and feature-rich. It’s not at the level of premium models like the Mazda CX-30 and lacks the off-road chops of something like the Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness, but for the average SUV shopper, the 2025 Nissan Kicks is shaping up to be a worthy competitor to mainstream options like the Honda CR-V and Chevy Trailblazer.