The Juke has held up the entry level of Nissan's range of SUVs since 2011, but Nissan opted to retire that badge for 2018 in favour of Kicks, the name that adonrs its all-new subcompact crossover.
It's not a surprising move: While the Juke had proven a popular and high-profile vehicle for Nissan, it was going to be difficult to update its weird, extroverted styling. Rather than try, the Japanese company has instead turned it into a totally new model wearing a more conventional design that owes a lot to the brand's corporate style.
The Kicks' styling is plainer than the Juke's, and its performance promises to be less interesting, too: Kicks is powered by a 1.6L four-cylinder engine that makes a modest 125 hp and 115 lb-ft of torque -- a lot less than the Juke's turbocharged 188 hp and 177 lb-ft. The new motor feeds a front-wheel drivetrain through a continuously variable automatic transmission; absent is the Juke's torque-vectoring AWD system, or any AWD setup, for that matter -- it isn't even offered as an option.
This latest introduction gives Nissan an extensive range of crossovers: from here, buyers can move up to the Qashqai and Rogue, and then onto mid-sizers like Murano and Pathfinder and the full-size Armada. While that seems like overkill, consider that more and more buyers are moving into crossovers from cars of all sizes, so it's conceivable that within a few years, the Kicks could replace the Versa as Nissan's smallest and least-expensive model in North America.
Styling-wise, Nissan calls out the Kicks' available two-tone exterior colour combinations that place a black, orange or white roof on top of a variety of body colours.
Despite its bottom-of-the-ladder position, the Kicks most basic S trim will come standard with automatic emergency braking with forward collision warning and a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen that supports the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration platforms.
The mid-range SV adds blind spot warning with rear cross traffic alert, 17-inch wheels (in place of 16-inch steelies), passive keyless entry, heated side mirrors, automatic climate control, seven-inch digital gauge cluster information display, satellite radio and remote engine start.
SR models gain LED low-beam headlights, fog lights, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter, upgraded seat fabric, rear spoiler and a 360-degree camera system.