Nissan Kicks exterior styling updates for 2021 include a bigger grille edged with black, sharply angled headlights and a bold new front bumper. (Nissan) 20210517

Nissan updates Kicks subcompact with revised styling for ’21

New standard features and interior refinement are included in changes to the brand’s smallest SUV.

The sharp little Nissan Kicks SUV is freshened for 2021 with several interior and exterior styling revisions, some new standard features and additions to its paint color palette. Value and great gas mileage are carried over from last year’s original Kicks model.

Pronounced exterior styling changes are to the grille, headlights and taillights, front and rear bumpers, and wheel design.

Inside the 2021 Kicks, seat and trim materials have been upgraded, and there’s a new, full center console with built-in armrest.

Model year 2021 also brings Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration as a standard feature for all three Kicks trim levels.

Nissan’s Safety Shield 360, a collection of driver-assist technologies, is standard on every 2021 Kicks model. It includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, radar-based blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, high-beam assist and rear automatic braking.

New seat fabric, a full center console with built-in armrest and an 8-inch infotainment display are among the 2021 Nissan Kicks interior upgrades for SV and SR trim levels. (Nissan) 20210517

The Kicks is available in S, SV, and SR trim levels. Each one comes with a 122-horsepower four cylinder engine, a CVT automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Fuel economy ratings are 31 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined. The fuel tank capacity of only 10.8 gallons makes the gas gauge approach empty more quickly than average. An unaware driver might think Kicks isn’t doing all that well with fuel economy, but that’s a false impression.

Kicks SV and SR models get a new 8-inch touchscreen for 2021, a nice enhancement for Nissan’s logical, likable infotainment system.

The optional two-tone paint combinations featuring a black roof expand this year to include Scarlet Ember Tintcoat, Electric Blue Metallic, and Boulder Gray Pearl. They join the existing Aspen White TriCoat and Monarch Orange Metallic.

The base Kicks S model starts at $20,700 with a $1,150 destination charge included. As base trims go, especially for a competitively priced subcompact SUV, the Kicks S is generously equipped.

The 2021 Nissan Kicks subcompact SUV is powered by a 122-horsepower four cylinder engine joined to a CVT automatic transmission. (Nissan) 20210517

My test car was the top-tier SR model, still modestly priced at $23,140. The standard features it contains above the $22,500 mid-range SV grade include LED fog lights, LED low beams, black roof rails, rear spoiler, dark chrome grille, outside mirror-mounted LED turn signals and a 360-degree view monitor.

The tester’s optional equipment column was packed with every other item available on the 2021 Kicks, including a persuasive $1,200 Premium Package adding a high-end Bose audio system, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, Prima-Tex synthetic leatherette upholstery, security system, cargo cover and Wi-Fi hotspot.

Kicks has five-passenger seating in conventional subcompact SUV terms, meaning the middle spot in the back seat is not a bastion of comfort. But cabin roominess is good otherwise, and rear seat backs fold down to enlarge cargo space beyond what the sizable cargo area already provides.

The Kicks thrives in congested urban settings where parking space is at a premium and maneuverability is paramount. At the same time, it’s an excellent commuter car and also serves well as a utility vehicle.

The new exterior styling gives Kicks a livelier, more compelling appearance, and the interior upgrades create a more refined environment.

2021 NISSAN KICKS SR

Base price, including destination charge: $23,140

Price as driven: $27,075

Mary Lowry is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. She lives in Snohomish County. Vehicles are provided by automotive manufacturers as a one-week loan for evaluation purposes only. Manufacturers do not control content of the reviews.

Talk to us

More in Life

One of the Jetty Island ferry captains waits for boarders as the ferry begins operations for the summer on Wednesday, Jul. 6, 2016 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
All aboard: Jetty Island ferry reservations are available

The passenger ferry service from the Port of Everett to a sandy bar runs July 5 through Labor Day.

Taleah Burr (left right), Laurel Harrison, Caitlin Hitchner and Kelsey Jinneman-Fairbanks are four teachers at Challenger Elementary in Everett got Roman numeral '4' tattoos to represent their "Core 4" solidarity the day after their first year teaching in 2014.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Inked: Third-grade teachers tattoo their solidarity IV-ever

Most of their Challenger Elementary students don’t know about the hidden badge of teacher pride.

5 Rights Brewing in Marysville recently built the Second Street Community Pavilion, which will be open year-round and have electricity and heat. (5 Rights Brewing)
Drink This: 5 Rights now has year-round outdoor seating

The new Second Street Community Pavilion is just one way the Marysville brewery continues to expand.

Public Health Essentials! (Snohomish Health District)
Four things we can all do to keep our forward momentum

Public Health Essentials! A blog by the Snohomish Health District.

Serve New York strip steak and red potato egg hash at Father's Day brunch. (Tulalip Resort Casino)
Taste of Tulalip: Steak and egg hash for Father’s Day brunch

Top your New York strip steak and red potato egg hash with a cheesy Mexican-style chorizo sauce.

Toni Munizza, a PE teacher, founded the Cathcart Elementary Unicycle club in 1991. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
How a teacher created a lasting unicycle legacy in Cathcart

Around 1993, Toni Munizza the Cathcart Unicycle Club was formed. Some 28 years later, it’s still going strong.

Pho
You voted: The best pho in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people still have their favorites

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime in XSE trim with two-tone black and Supersonic Red paint. (Manufacturer photo)
Toyota expands RAV4 family with new 2021 Prime plug-in hybrid

The most powerful RAV4 also has the highest electric-only range of any PHEV SUV on the market.

Smart watches, like this Samsung Galaxy Watch3, have valuable safety features that can help you as you age. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Embracing new technology that gives security and independence

It’s important to adapt to wearing a smart watch, for example, while your brain is healthy enough to figure it out.

Most Read