However, the majority of car buyers are all about SUVs, and this littlest segment of them has been multiplying like Tribbles in the past few years. The Juke was one of the first of these subcompact crossovers, but it was probably too oddball for a mainstream audience (not to mention inefficient) and never really caught on. Newer competitors certainly didn't help.
Well, to see how the Kicks compares to those very competitors, lets fire up the Autoblog Comparo Generator 3000 (TM). Specifically, we'll be looking at those subcompact crossovers with similarly small dimensions, especially low prices and/or a disinclination to offering all-wheel drive. We're talking about the Nissan Kicks vs the Toyota C-HR, Hyundai Kona, Kia Soul, Honda HR-V and Jeep Renegade. Now, if you're interested in literally the exact opposite SUV segment, check out our recent Mercedes G-Class comparo.
Otherwise, on to the spreadsheet:
Dimensions and passenger spaceIn terms of exterior dimensions, the new Kicks is right smack in the middle of the segment. It's virtually the same as the Honda HR-V, and although its cargo volume is equally similar with the backseat raised, without the Honda's "Magic" backseat (and the relocated gas tank that makes it possible), the Kicks will have less total cargo capacity. But we're just guessing — Nissan didn't provide a maximum cargo capacity number.
Nissan also didn't provide a ground clearance number, but judging by pictures, we'd be shocked if it's better than the C-HR's low-riding 5.9 inches. Given that neither the Kicks nor C-HR offer all-wheel drive, how are these not hatchbacks? We never considered the Soul a crossover or SUV until these competitors arrived. Anyhoo.
Backseat legroom seems to be a Kicks downside, as all but the C-HR surpass it. (Seriously, it's almost impressive how large the C-HR is on the outside but cramped inside.) Headroom in the Kicks is pretty good, though, so people with short legs and exceedingly long torsos are set. Really, if you're looking for the most generous passenger space in this segment, the Soul and HR-V are your best bets.
What do their interiors look like?Why waste keystrokes when you can take a look for yourselves?
Drivetrains, performance and fuel economyAll-wheel drive. Want it? Too bad, the Kicks, C-HR and Soul don't offer it. We're guessing that's not a problem for many, but if it is, check out the Kona and HR-V, plus the Renegade that offers multiple systems. The Subaru Crosstrek also comes standard with all-wheel drive.
As for performance, want that too? Too bad, the Kicks produces a measly 125 horsepower and a weak-sauce 115 pound-feet of torque. That's less than even the base Soul and the notoriously glacial HR-V. Nissan didn't release curb weight, so we can't do the power-to-weight math, but if the Kicks hits 60 in less than 10 seconds, it would be surprising. If you do want power on hand, the Kona's and Soul's available turbocharged engine upgrades are your best bet. And yes, the Renegade has plenty of power too, but it's stunted by A) the fact its turbo engine is available only with a manual, and B) the 2.4-liter is far less gutsy in practice than it is on paper. Its nine-speed automatic is also pretty crummy.
On the upside for the Kicks, with no power comes great fuel economy. With an EPA-estimate 33 mpg combined, it pretty much blows away its rivals. It's better than even the HR-V. The Renegade's meager fuel economy is another strike on its powertrain scoreboard.
Really, if you're looking for a balance of performance and fuel economy, the Kona would seem to be your best bet in this group. It also offers all-wheel drive, and its traditional six-speed automatic transmission won't dissuade like a CVT might.
Are there songs related to any of these crossovers?Sure are!
Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People
Renegades by X Ambassadors
Soul Man by Sam & Dave (plus, you know, eleventy million other songs)
Jai Bhule Jai by Kona (thank you, YouTube)
Holiday by HRVY (ditto)
Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke (we could link to that video, but then we'd have to C-HR. Get it? OK, it's a stretch)
How do they compare in pictures?2018 Nissan Kicks
2018 Toyota C-HR
2018 Hyundai Kona
2018 Kia Soul
2018 Honda HR-V
2018 Jeep Renegade