Base Camp: 2020 Nissan Kicks S
Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle on sale in Canada and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we'll let you know. If not, we'll recommend one that earns a passing grade.
Nissan has been on something of a crossover/SUV streak lately, packing their showroom with an entrant into just about every size category. Today, our series is focusing on the ‘Size Small’ end of the Nissan crossover pool, occupied by the nifty Kicks whose base model is appropriately denoted by the letter ‘S’.
Stickering is just south of $20,000, and this pint-sized ute is powered by a 1.6-litre engine making 122 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, you’re right. Fortunately, the Kicks has a curb weight of less than 1,200 kilos. A continuously variable transmission is the only gearbox available, unlike some other vehicles in or near this class that offer a six-speed manual (*ahem* Hyundai *ahem*).
Nissan likes to tout their roster of safety equipment and, in the Kicks, they are right to do so. Even this base model comes standard with systems for lane departure warning, emergency braking, and blind spot monitoring. It should not be lost on anyone that some of these features are optional or completely absent on machines costing thousands more.
Inside, one will find the conveniences of push button start and air conditioning. Buttons for cruise control and a Bluetooth voice system pepper the steering wheel that adjusts for both reach and rake. A 7-inch touchscreen handles infotainment duties, though Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are reserved for more expensive trims. Nissan’s very comfortable Zero Gravity seats have finally made it to this end of the food chain, by the way.
Exterior styling cues suggesting your frugality to the neighbours are limited to black door handles and wing mirrors. Fog lights occupy a space in the front fascia, a marked improvement over the usual tactic of saddling the base model with a pair of unlovely black plastic buckets. Whether this is thanks to economies of scale or Nissan’s benevolence is unknown and doesn’t matter. However, only the shades of Fresh Powder and Super Black are available as zero-dollar paint options.
What We’d Choose
No matter the trim, every Kicks is equipped with the same powertrain, meaning there are no ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ regardless of window sticker. The next-level SV does come with a few appealing features, including heated seats and Apple CarPlay, but the $2,700 price walk is not insignificant at this end of the pool.
If you can live without those items, we recommend sticking with the S and pocketing the difference.