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Nissan ‘kicks’ its subcompact SUV to the next level for 2021

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As the sedan segment dwindles, the compact SUV segment is growing. The compact length and higher ride height have been increasingly attractive to consumers, so it makes sense automakers are investing heavily in their smallest SUVs. The Nissan Kicks, which was pretty awesome when it launched back in 2018, gets even better for 2021.

Similar to its biggest brother, the Armada, Kicks is only getting a refresh, but the tech upgrades for a vehicle that top out around $25k are a big deal.

So, here’s what to watch for in 2021.

LED lighting

In addition to a new grille treatment and some new paint colors on the 2021 Kicks, one of the biggest exterior changes involves the lighting. Headlights, taillights and fog lights all become LED.

2021 Kicks

The redesigned 2021 Nissan Kicks has been updated to add LED lighting to headlights and taillights. (Image courtesy of Nissan North America)

An additional USB port

The Kicks has three standard USB ports – one up front and two in the rear for charging. These are all USB-A ports. For 2021, it adds an available USB-C port on the upper two trims.

Adaptive Cruise Control

One of the more attractive features on the Kicks is its standard safety tech. Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 includes features such as automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, rear cross-traffic alert and (get this!) automatic reverse braking. Plus, the Nissan around-view monitor is available. For a vehicle that starts at $20k, that’s HUGE.

Now for 2021, Kicks will add available adaptive cruise control or, as Nissan likes to call it, “Intelligent Cruise Control.” This is the system that allows drivers to set cruise control, then the vehicle uses radar to slow down when it perceives a vehicle is in front, moving at a slower speed.

2021 Kicks

The 2021 Nissan Kicks adds more available features like a heated steering wheel and an 8-inch infotainment display. (Image courtesy of Nissan North America)

Heated steering wheel

The top-tier SR trim already offered heated seats – a must-have if you live in a colder clime. But now, it appears Kicks is getting a heated steering wheel, too.

An available 8-inch display

We assume the standard display will include the same 7-inch screen on the 2020 model. For the refresh, however, Kicks will get an available upgraded customizable 8-inch display. Additionally, it’s worth noting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will now be standard on the base S trim – previously it was only on SV and SR trims.

2021 Kicks

The 2021 Nissan Kicks adds new paint colors as well as two-tone paint combinations. (Image courtesy of Nissan North America)

The bottom line on the 2021 Kicks

While we don’t have pricing information on the 2021 Kicks, the 2020 model starts at $20,165, including destination, and tops out at $23,870 for the SR trim with the Premium Package. We don’t expect a huge leap, here, because this is the entry into Nissan’s SUV lineup. So, maybe a $21k-$25k range, with a little added on to the end because of more premium features on the upper trims.

With standard automatic reverse braking (normally only seen on luxury vehicles – as an option!) and standard CarPlay/Auto, there isn’t much in the subcompact SUV class that can compete with Kicks in terms of value – assuming Nissan doesn’t do anything crazy with the base price.

Nissan says the 2021 Kicks will be available in early 2021, so look for this refreshed mini SUV to hit the streets before March.

Related posts:

Nissan makes important changes to 2021 Armada

2021 Kia Seltos: Newest SUV is good but not great

Road Test Review – 2018 Nissan Kicks SR

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is the Managing Editor for Pickup Truck + SUV Talk as well as a Chicago-based automotive writer, YouTube personality and podcast host, with her articles and videos appearing in outlets throughout the U.S. Additionally, she co-hosts a weekly radio show on car stuff for a local Chicago station. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for both newspaper and broadcast media conglomerates. She is also a past president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. Jill is also currently a juror for the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY).

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