New Car Previews

Preview: 2025 Nissan Kicks Gets Updates to Bring it Back to the Forefront

We’ve been fans of the Nissan Kicks for years, appreciating its well-equipped interior, great efficiency, and the solid value it offered. But it’s been around a while (since 2018 for the Canadian market), and despite its attributes, it was beginning to fade into the background as new models arrived on the scene.

Nissan has just pulled the wraps off its new 2025 Kicks, and by the looks of it, the brand has made a lot of right moves to bring the little SUV back to the forefront.

More Pep in its Step

Aligning with most of the key competitors, Nissan has swapped out last year’s 1.6L normally-aspirated four-cylinder engine for a 2.0L unit borrowed from the Sentra, and with it, given the new Kicks a bump in horsepower to 140 (up from 122) and, notably, in torque from 114 to 140 lb-ft. This newfound gusto puts it well ahead of the Hyundai Venue, and in line with the Kia Soul, both of which are dimensionally smaller than the Kicks.

While the larger engine is likely to make the new Kicks a little spritelier, in top spec, the new model is upwards of 200 kg (440 lbs) heavier than the outgoing model. The Kicks still sends its power through a continuously variable transmission (CVT), although Nissan claims this new version to be more responsive than before, which may help the new model feel a bit livelier, too.

More Grip for the Trip

The bigger news is that the Kicks is now offered with either front-wheel drive (FWD) or for the first time, all-wheel drive (AWD), including a snow mode that adjusts the vehicle dynamic controls to maximize traction. Better still, AWD will be an option on all three trims, allowing buyers on a tight budget to spec their Kicks based on their priorities.

More Space, Too

A small downside to ordering a Kicks with AWD (besides the added cost), is its impact on cargo capacity. The added mechanical hardware beneath the rear floor reduces volume in the base FWD models from 850L to 677L behind the rear seat, and from 1,700L to 1,419L with the rear seat folded. In either case, the Kicks remains a very competitive cargo hauler within the segment.

Passenger space improves thanks to the Kicks’ larger dimensions – most notably by making the shape of the Kicks more boxy – providing more hip and shoulder room front and back, plus more leg room, especially for rear seat passengers. Head room is diminished slightly compared to last year’s model since the new Kicks’ greater overall height is attributed to its slightly elevated ride height (and ground clearance) than before.

Nissan has fitted its famed Zero Gravity seats to the Kicks, which we’ve always appreciated for their remarkable ability to stave off fatigue on long drives. There’s now an optional panoramic sunroof, and, on the top SR trim, a 10-speaker Bose audio system can be optioned, helping to push the Kicks upmarket to tango with the slightly larger Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos, and Volkswagen Taos.

Trickle-Down Technology

Plenty of technology from costlier Nissan models has found its way to the Kicks. All models get a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display, plus wireless connectivity for both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The range-topping SR trim also gets a pair of USB-C plugs up front and two in the back, plus a 12.3-inch gauge display, and all but the base S trim get a wireless charging pad, remote engine start, and automatic climate control.

Beyond the standard adaptive cruise control, Nissan has also made its Safety Shield 360 active safety suite standard equipment across the board. This includes intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic emergency braking, blind spot and lane departure warnings, and high beam assist.

SR trims come with active steering aids to help prevent lane departure, plus traffic sign recognition, and Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist that provides driver assistance to help maintain lane position and a safe distance from traffic ahead, even in stop-and-go situations.

Style That… Kicks!

While the newfound power, all-wheel drive, and improved technology will all help lure potential Kicks buyers, it’s the little SUV’s sense of style that will attract them in the first place. Last year’s Kicks was barely distinguishable from its larger (now defunct) Qashqai sibling, and it was also fairly anonymous within the segment.

Turning that on its head, this new model leaps into a funky, pseudo sci-fi look with the optional 19-inch, tri-blade wheels and taller ride height making it appear nothing like the entry-level SUV it used to be. The SR trim on display was especially cool with its two-tone red roof over grey body, and the diamond-shaped pattern pressed into the lower body mouldings. An eye-searing yellow hue (shared with the Z sports car) is also available, meaning those looking to make a bold statement can certainly do so here.

The front and rear really elevate the Kicks’ style both within the segment, and as a fresh look from Nissan we haven’t seen before. The nose features full-width grille bars that terminate each side at the fenders, and above them, sleek multi-lens LED headlights squint. The rear is even better with sharp angles and blacked-out trim around the LED lighting. Something about the boxy look, big wheels and tall ride height recalls the Volvo XC40, which isn’t a bad thing for an entry-level SUV.

Inside, the SR looks particularly snazzy with plenty of red accents in trim, stitching, and seat inserts, plus a faux carbon fibre look around the contemporary dual-screen display. The materials throughout the cabin have moved decisively upmarket.

Final Thoughts

The Nissan Kicks was always a safe bet for people looking for good value, but who were not particularly bothered by its somewhat bland styling and adequate performance. The new model’s exciting, youthful, and extroverted styling will go a long way to attract positive attention, and with the promise of more power, better technology, and long-overdue all-wheel drive, the 2025 Nissan Kicks appears poised to steal a lot of attention from the rest of the segment. As long as Nissan keeps the Kicks aggressively priced, it may well have a winner on its hands.

The 2025 Nissan Kicks is expected to arrive at Canadian dealerships this summer, with pricing announced closer to its arrival date.