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The Nissan Juke was an interesting thing. It looked strange, but it drove nice and it was one of the original subcompact-SUV pioneers. But even odd things must eventually meet their demise. Nissan has a follow-up in the cards, and it's a little bit weird like the Juke, but the 2018 Kicks errs toward milquetoast.
Slotting in below the Rogue Sport, the 2018 Kicks expands on the Juke's dimensions without stepping on its bigger brother's toes. Looks-wise, it stays true to the Kicks Concept that first appeared back in 2014. The fenders have some bulk, and the "floating" C-pillar works in this application. It loses some of the funky-fresh nature that made the Juke so fun, but such is the price paid for mass appeal. To me, it looks like a Juke trying to wear a Rogue Sport's skin.
The interior is a bit more traditional, too, but it looks quite nice for its segment. There's some interesting layering on the dashboard, and the gauge cluster on higher trims features a 7.0-inch screen. Three USB ports are standard, as is Bluetooth and a backup camera. Heated seats are optional, as is a leather-wrapped steering wheel and automatic climate control.
The Kicks comes with just one infotainment setup -- a 7.0-inch screen that packs both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, although you have to move up to the mid-grade Kicks SV to get those two connectivity options. The SR Premium Package pumps up the bass with a Bose audio system that features a pair of 2.5-inch speakers embedded in the driver's headrest.
Safety-tech wonks will be pleased to hear that the Kicks comes standard with autonomous emergency braking and forward collision warning. If that's not enough, SV and SR trims add blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The SR takes it one step further with Around View Monitor, which gives drivers a bird's-eye view of the vehicle based on multiple cameras around the exterior, as well as LED headlights.
The engine is kind of a bore, but if you want efficiency, that's how it has to be. Its 1.6-liter I4 puts out 125 horsepower and 115 pound-feet of torque, mated exclusively to a CVT. That's a far cry from the Juke's 188-hp output, but whereas the Juke earned 29 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, the Kicks is estimated at 33 mpg combined. There is no option for all-wheel drive on the Kicks.
The 2018 Nissan Kicks goes on sale in the spring, and pricing will be announced closer to its on-sale date.