Best and Worst Nissan Kicks Years to Avoid and Why it Failed

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Are you ready to hit the road with the Nissan Kicks, the stylish and fuel-efficient compact SUV that has taken the market by storm since its debut in 2018?

Hold on tight because we’re about to reveal the truth about certain model years that could make or break your driving experience.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the Nissan Kicks and highlight the model years that you should steer clear of due to poor quality and reliability.

Brace yourself for the shocking truth about the 2020 and 2019 models, which have been reported to have significant issues compared to other model years.

By the end of this article, you’ll have all the auto information you need to make an informed decision about whether the Nissan Kicks is the right car for you, and which model years to avoid like the plague.

Worst Nissan Kicks Years to Avoid

Nissan Kicks Overview

The Nissan Kicks is a subcompact crossover SUV that has been popular among drivers looking for a versatile and fuel-efficient vehicle.

The first generation of the Kicks was introduced in 2016, and it has since evolved, with some years performing better than others in terms of reliability and overall satisfaction.

In terms of its design, the Nissan Kicks features a sporty and compact exterior, making it an attractive option for city driving and tight parking situations.

The interior is spacious and well-appointed, with ample cargo space for its size. As a subcompact crossover, the Kicks offers the ideal blend of SUV utility and small car maneuverability.

Here Are The Worst Years to Avoid

There are a few model years that stand out as less desirable due to various issues and concerns. Here are the years you should be cautious about before making your decision:

2020 Nissan Kicks

The 2020 Nissan Kicks is a model year that should be avoided. One of the major problems reported in this model is engine failure.

Some owners experienced their engine stalling randomly, with the engine revving below idle RPMs and slowly losing power.

Moreover, this year also faced issues in the AC/Heater system, with temperatures not reaching desired settings.

2018 and 2019 Kicks

The 2018 and 2019 Nissan Kicks models also had some issues reported, though not as significantly as the 2020 model.

Nissan recalled certain vehicles from these years for problems related to their braking system. While not as numerous as with the 2020 model year, it is still important to be cautious if purchasing a 2018 or 2019 Nissan Kicks.

Conducting thorough research and being aware of any potential issues associated with these years can help you make a more informed decision when purchasing this vehicle.

Reliability and Common Problems

Certain model years have been found to exhibit more issues than others. The 2020 Nissan Kicks seems to be the worst, with lower quality and reliability, alongside a range of problems affecting various components.

Let’ delve deeper into few common issues, including engine problems, transmission troubles, throttle body failures, and interior concerns.

Engine Issues

While the Nissan Kicks hasn’t faced widespread engine failure, there have been some sporadic complaints about the engine’s performance.

The most commonly reported issue is a lack of power or poor fuel efficiency, which could potentially impact the vehicle’s overall driving experience.

Transmission Problems

One area that deserves close attention when considering the Nissan Kicks is the transmission. Unfortunately, some owners have encountered issues with the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

These CVT problems tend to manifest themselves as difficulties in shifting, an unresponsive gearbox, or even occasional whining noises coming from underneath the hood.

Throttle Body Failures

Another significant problem that has been reported for the 2020 Nissan Kicks is throttle body failure. Throttle body issues can cause the vehicle to stall, hesitate during acceleration, or have trouble maintaining proper idle speeds.

This can lead to a rather unpredictable and frustrating driving experience. In some cases, a replacement of the throttle body might be required to rectify the issue.

Interior Concerns

While the interior of the Nissan Kicks generally provides a comfortable and practical space for drivers and passengers alike, there have been some issues reported with the interior components.

Among these concerns are the AC/heater system not reaching the desired temperature and various interior finishing issues.

Although these may not be as serious as engine or transmission problems, they can still impact the overall enjoyment and satisfaction of driving the Nissan Kicks.

By staying informed of engine issues, transmission troubles, throttle body failures, and interior concerns, you can make an informed decision and understand what to expect from this compact SUV.

3 Reasons Why Nissan Kicks Failed

1. Handling and Performance

The Nissan Kicks has been criticized for its lackluster handling and performance. The vehicle tends to feel floaty, leaning too much during cornering or on on-ramps.

This lack of stability may cause some drivers to feel uncomfortable, especially during high-speed maneuvers. Additionally, the steering system has been described as “highly boosted and not blessed with a quick ratio,” which can make the car feel unresponsive.

2. Service Network

Another issue that contributed to the Kicks’ failure is Nissan’s inadequate service network. This was particularly problematic as more recent competitors, such as Kia, have managed to establish a better service network in a shorter period.

Nissan’s spotty service coverage made it difficult for Kicks owners to find timely and reliable maintenance and repairs, which negatively impacted their overall satisfaction with the vehicle.

3. Reliability Concerns

Reliability has also been a problem for the Nissan Kicks, with the 2020 model receiving numerous complaints about quality and manufacturing defects.

Some of the issues reported by owners include problems with the air conditioning and heating systems not reaching the desired temperature. Another more serious concern involves defects found in the throttle bodies, which could severely affect the vehicle’s performance and safety.

These three factors—handling and performance, service network, and reliability concerns—have contributed to the Nissan Kicks’ failure in the market.

As a result, consumers have opted for other vehicles in the same class, which offer better driving experiences, stronger brand support, and a reputation for dependability.

Competition and Rivals

When looking at the Nissan Kicks, it’s important to consider the competition in the small crossover market to determine if there are any specific years or models to avoid.

Let’s dive into the Kicks’ rivals, including the Kia Soul, Toyota C-HR, Ford EcoSport, Chevy Trailblazer, and Hyundai Kona.

Kia Soul

The Kia Soul is a popular contender known for its boxy design, practicality, and affordability.

While the Soul SUV attracts buyers with reputation for reliability and its unique look it doesn’t offer all-wheel drive, which could be a deciding factor for some buyers. Read what Kia Soil years to be avoided here!

Toyota C-HR

Toyota’s entry into the small crossover segment, the C-HR, offers a stylish and futuristic design. It is praised for its standard advanced safety features, but some may be deterred by its higher price tag and lack of all-wheel drive.

Ford EcoSport

The Ford EcoSport is another rival in the small crossover market, offering a higher seating position and decent cargo space.

However, its fuel efficiency and overall value may not be as strong as its competitors like Nissan Kicks. Learn what EcoSport worst years to avoid today!

Chevy Trailblazer

The Chevy Trailblazer is one of the newer entries in the segment, providing a comfortable ride and standard all-wheel drive.

It’s a solid choice for buyers looking for a small crossover with a modern design, but it may not have the same reliability record as some of its competitors, especially those Trailblazer years with more issues.

Hyundai Kona

Lastly, the Hyundai Kona is another rival that offers a stylish design and a wide range of features at an affordable price. Its available all-wheel drive and excellent gas mileage make it a strong contender in the small crossover market.

Though each of these small crossovers offers unique features and designs, they all compete with the Nissan Kicks for the attention of buyers looking for practicality, reliability, and affordability.

Being aware of the common problems and recalls of each model, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, can help buyers make an informed decision and avoid a potential “lemon” car.

Consumer Reports and Safety

Consumer Reports is a well-known organization that provides safety and reliability data on various products, including cars.

They gather ratings based on detailed questionnaires filled out by their subscribers, which cover various aspects of vehicle performance and reliability.

By collecting data from a large number of samples, Consumer Reports can provide statistical confidence in their car brand reliability rankings.

In their analysis, they found that the Kicks has had some issues with its reliability ratings. For instance, the 2020 Nissan Kicks experienced a considerable drop in reliability, with problems related to its A/C and throttle body.

The short warranty offered by Nissan for the Kicks is also a point to consider when assessing its reliability.

In terms of safety, Nissan vehicles generally receive excellent ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

These ratings are based on multiple crash tests, measuring the safety of the vehicle during front, rear, and side-impact collisions.

While there is no mention of specific NHTSA ratings for the Nissan Kicks, the brand, in general, receives 4 or 5-star ratings across its vehicles.

However, in recent model years, the Nissan Kicks has received low ratings from both J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. The 2021 Nissan Kicks, for example, only got a 2/5 reliability rating from Consumer Reports.

Prices and Trims

The Nissan Kicks is available in three trim levels: S, SV, and SR. Each trim comes with a set price range and specific features that cater to different preferences.

The base trim, Kicks S, is known for its affordability. The starting price for the 2021 Nissan Kicks S was $19,500, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious buyers.

You can expect standard features such as automatic emergency braking, a rearview camera, and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

Moving up, the SV trim offers a slightly higher MSRP of $20,290 for the 2023 model, with a few notable upgrades.

These include 17-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, and an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Additionally, the SV trim provides some tech upgrades, such as a blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert for added safety and convenience.

The top-of-the-line SR trim has a starting price of $22,850 for the 2023 model year. It comes with features that enhance both its appearance and performance.

The SR trim includes LED headlights, fog lights, and a sporty body kit for an attractive exterior, while the interior gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a premium audio system, and optional heated front seats for added comfort.

In summary, Nissan Kicks offers three trims with varying prices and features to cater to a wide range of preferences. The base S trim is perfect for those seeking an affordable vehicle with essential features, while the SV and SR trims provide increasingly attractive and comprehensive features for drivers willing to spend a bit more.

Performance and Fuel Economy

The Nissan Kicks, although praised for its fuel economy, faces some drawbacks in terms of its performance.

For instance, the vehicle is powered by a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine that churns out 122 horsepower and is paired with a continuously-variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Unfortunately, performance falls short when it comes to acceleration, as it is not the Kicks’ forte.

Turning our attention to the fuel economy, the 2021 Kicks gets 31 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, placing it among the best in the subcompact SUV class.

These impressive figures can be credited to Nissan’s efforts in programming the CVT to attain maximum efficiency.

When it comes to in-car technology, the Kicks offers both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, allowing drivers and passengers to stay connected effortlessly.

Moreover, the quality of the vehicle’s build has received positive reviews in general, although it’s essential to consider that the Kicks is a relatively new model, and therefore, issues stemming from age and mileage are yet to be discovered.

The Nissan Kicks comes with a competitive warranty package, featuring a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

This coverage ensures that buyers can enjoy some peace of mind in the event of any unexpected mechanical or performance issues.

Overall, the Nissan Kicks delivers excellent fuel economy figures, making it a standout in its class. However, you should patiently weigh the pros and cons, particularly regarding its performance and acceleration, to ensure it meets their needs and expectations.

Space and Practicality

The Nissan Kicks is known for its spacious cabin and generous cargo space, making it an ideal choice for urban dwellers and families alike.

The Kicks stands out in its class due to its 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which is only bested by the Kia Seltos. Check the detailed Kia Seltos Problems and concerns.

This ample space allows for easy transportation of luggage, groceries, and other items. Additionally, the Kicks offers a roomy cabin with plenty of headroom and legroom for passengers, ensuring a comfortable ride for everyone on board.

Finally, while evaluating Nissan Kicks models to avoid, pay attention to the space and practicality aspects such as cargo space, cabin roominess, cost, and the presence of an automatic emergency braking system. By doing so, you can make an informed decision and find the right Nissan Kicks for your needs.


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