2025 Nissan Kicks Adds AWD and a Serious Design Glow-Up

And look at those wheels!

byMaddox Kay|
Nissan News photo


There aren’t very many genuinely affordable cars left, and even fewer that are exciting to look at. That’s why the new 2025 Nissan Kicks is captivating—it’s a small crossover that promises actual style, tech, and for the first time, available all-wheel-drive, all at what should be a reasonable price.

Unveiled in New York, the second-generation Kicks replaces the subcompact CUV that’s been out since 2018. I always liked the previous car’s cheeky Pikachu-esque styling, but this Kicks’ boxy front end, curved roof, and sculpted rear look like its final evolution. (For those not versed in Pokemon lingo: it looks harder, better, faster, and stronger.) And check out those wheels! I count at least four layers of overlapping triangles. Nissan says the pattern on the Kicks’ rocker panels was inspired by sneaker soles—fitting for the model’s name, I guess.

Get out your foot scale, because the Kicks has grown a half-size. Its wheelbase is 1.5-1.8 inches longer, depending on whether you option all-wheel drive or not, and overall length is up 2.8 inches. It’s also 1.6 inches wider and 0.6-0.9 inches taller. The base model is 302 pounds heavier than before, just sliding under the 3,000-pound mark at 2,987. Optional all-wheel drive carries a 187- to 196-pound weight penalty, depending on trim.

Yes, the Kicks is available with all-wheel drive for the first time, and you can spec it on any trim level. It’s Nissan’s front-drive-based “Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive” system, so don’t expect Subaru-like traction, but paired with the Kicks’ 8.4 inches of ground clearance it should get the job done provided you have the right tire for the job and don’t go looking for trouble. All models share a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-four producing 141 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque, up 19 hp and 16 lb-ft from the previous 1.6-liter engine. Power is distributed by Nissan’s Xtronic CVT automatic transmission across the model range.

Speaking of trim levels, there are three: base-model S, midgrade SV, and top-line SR, same as before. The Kicks S rocks 16-inch steelies and a seven-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, a backup camera, intermittent wipers, LED headlights with auto-high beams, and digital gauges as standard. In addition, stepping up from S to SV gets you a 12.3-inch display with wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, two USB-C ports and a charging pad, SiriusXM capability, optional heated seats, and 17-inch wheels. From there, SR upgrades the standard four-speaker sound system to six with a 10-speaker Bose option, a 360-degree parking monitor, automatic temperature control, leatherette seats, and nicer interior trim with ambient lighting. 

The SR also includes Nissan’s ProPILOT ADAS suite, including lane departure prevention, lane keep assist, blind spot intervention, and the ProPILOT Assist highway driving aid—and the “Integrated Dynamic-control Module”: sensors and tech that use targeted braking and engine controls to smooth out the car’s ride and handling.

Competition in this class is the strongest it’s ever been. The new and well-priced Chevy Trax appears to be a hit; the Hyundai Kona is stylish and spacious if dull to drive; the Honda HR-V is as solidly engineered as you’d expect.

Nissan hasn’t announced pricing for the 2025 Kicks just yet, but the 2024 model is readily available around the $25,000 mark. If Nissan can keep the new model in that ballpark, it’s sure to turn some heads.

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