2021 Nissan Juke/Kicks Goes From Polarizing To Blandtastic

Thailand just got the all-new version of the Nissan Kicks. So, we know what it will look like and some of the new features once it makes its way to the US. Some of these features we won’t get but they’re worth talking about. What isn’t worth talking about, at least not much, are the design changes. The Kicks replaced the Juke in the US in 2018. The Juke sold consistently well for years in spite of being a “love it or hate it” kind of car. It was quirky and interesting. There is nothing else like it roaming around today. Then Nissan decided to tone it down by introducing the Kicks. From Juke to Kicks went from polarizing to blandtastic.

From the front, you couldn’t tell what the Kicks was nor did you care

2021 Nissan Kicks Thailand | Nissan

Other parts of the world got a new version of the polarizing Juke design in 2018. The US got the derivative front end. From the front you couldn’t tell what it was nor did you care. It became a bridge for US Juke and Versa fans since both were no longer sold here. Or at least that is what Nissan wanted it to be.

Juke sales figures were fairly even for years at 35,000-38,000 units. In 2012 it almost sold 40,000. With the blandtastic change in 2018 the Kicks sold only 10,000 less. But last year, according to GoodCarBadCar, Nissan sold almost 60,000. So either Nissan’s hunch was right that it could sell more with bland, or it pushed harder. Or, maybe it was an inevitable combination of Juke and Versa buyers coming together to get the Kicks.


A certain segment of the buying public that loved the Juke’s styling

Nissan Juke-R | James Edition-
Nissan Juke-R | Nissan

There was a certain segment of the buying public that loved the Juke’s styling. When Nissan turned it into a blandtastic sedan nobody noticed or cared. But it did sell better.

The 2021 Kicks will get the corporate V-motion Nissan front end. The LED headlights are tied into the grille surround. While it’s distinctive it fails to separate the Kicks out from the other 20-30 other small SUVs like it. What is interesting is what the US won’t get.

Thailand and Japan get e-Power Kicks

2021 Nissan Kicks e-Power Thailand | Nissan

Thailand and Japan get e-Power in their Kicks. It utilizes a 1.2-liter, 12-valve, three-cylinder engine for starters. The engine powers an electric-drive system that sends juice to the battery. So it’s like a non-plug-in EV. It’s a 1.57 kWh lithium-ion battery spinning an electric motor, generator, and inverter. It adds up to 127 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque. The electric motor can get power from either the engine or battery or both under a load.

In the US we will get the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 122 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. The economy will be 33 mpg combined. To have any chance of standing out in the US it could use a bit more power.

It just seems like Nissan is trying harder overseas

2021 Nissan Kicks Thailand | Nissan

Inside, there’s an eight-inch Nissan Connect infotainment touchscreen. It comes with Apple CarPlay and two-tone black and orange finish. Six colors will be available in Thailand, while in the US we get only three for 2020 models. It just seems like Nissan is trying harder overseas than here. 

We loved the lone path that Nissan chose for the original Juke-except for the CVT transmissions. If the US gets this upgraded Kicks it will be interesting to see if it continues to improve sales or not. We’d still like to see the Juke and Kicks sold side-by-side for some variety and quirkiness.