The quirky Juke has been replaced with a more conventional crossover.
It was rumored that Nissan would discontinue its quirky Juke crossover in favor of something more mainstream. The Juke was easily Nissan's most polarizing model, mainly because of its unique exterior styling. Say what you want about the Juke, but Nissan did go all in with full-on Nismo and Nismo RS variants, both of which could be had with a manual transmission. Unfortunately, the Juke just couldn't make it in the US, and has now been discontinued. The 2018 Nissan Kicks will take its place in the lineup among the Rogue and Rogue Sport.
Right off the bat, it's clear that Nissan played it much safer with the styling of the Kicks. The most interesting design feature on the car is an optional black roof, and black D-pillar, which is also a styling feature of the Mazda CX-3. The Kicks looks much more in line with other Nissan products, thanks to the company's corporate V-Motion grill. Nissan will offer the Kicks in seven colors, plus five two-tone combinations. In addition to a black roof, Nissan will offer an orange roof with a gray body, or a white roof with a blue body for those who want to be a bit more outlandish. Under the hood, Nissan has continued the trend of making its smallest SUV less interesting than its predecessor.
The Juke came with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a rather impressive 188 hp. Power could also be increased to 215 hp on the most powerful Nismo RS trim. This made the Juke a solid performer in the small crossover segment, especially with the optional manual transmission. In contrast, the Kicks will only be available with a normally aspirated 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder with variable valve timing. This meager engine only puts out 125 hp and 115 lb-ft of torque to an Xtronic CVT transmission. Unlike the Juke, the Kicks is only available with FWD, and it will achieve 33 mpg on the highway (just one mpg better than the Juke).
Nissan hasn't announced pricing yet, but we should get more details closer to when it's set to reach dealerships next spring. Nissan says that it expects the Kicks to have the most competitive price in the segment. Overall, this is a fine looking crossover and the interior seems well laid out for an inexpensive car. However, we can't help but feel disappointed here. We know that not everyone loved the Juke, but at least Nissan was attempting to be interesting. The next time you beg a car company to build an interesting crossover that enthusiasts will enjoy, don't get mad at the results, because then we'll end up with more crossovers like the Nissan Kicks.