It's easy to roll your eyes at many of the tiny "crossovers" that are flowing out of carmakers these days. Though marketed as crossovers and given a few token styling cues to go with a modest increase of ride and seat height, most are simply glorified hatchbacks. That description certainly applies to the 2020 Nissan Kicks, which doesn't even offer all-wheel drive to satisfy the crossover M.O. But here's the thing: Being a hatchback isn't bad, and the Kicks is quite a good one. It supplies a massive amount of space for a vehicle its size, comes with a wealth of safety features for a vehicle with its modest price, and doesn't feel like a penalty box to sit in or drive despite the hatchback reputation. For those seeking an efficient, inexpensive urban runabout that can swallow enough stuff for a weekend getaway, it makes a lot of sense.
Indeed, it makes more sense in that scenario than other subcompact "crossovers" that usually cost more and provide less space. Upper trim levels are also quite nicely adorned, with a few key trim pieces drawing your eyes away from understandably cheaper ones. However, there are reasons it's not a slam dunk. Nissan's engineers did their best to make the Kicks feel quick enough, but there's only so much one can do with a wheezy 122 horsepower. Its lack of all-wheel drive is another issue, and the unusual steering can frustrate. This is by no means a fun car to drive, and it's hardly a comfy, quiet, long-distance cruiser, either. So it's not perfect, but within the segment company it keeps, it doesn't need to be.