The Nissan Kicks and the Subaru Crosstrek belong to the budget subcompact SUV category and are popular choices among buyers because they are value champions. Both cars deliver great performance, comfort, transmission, and warranty at a similar starting price, but which car offers the better deal?

Subaru Crosstrek

Nissan Kick

Exterior

Neither the Crosstrek nor the Kicks are popular for their compelling exterior design, and their 2021 refreshes don’t change much. The Subaru Crosstrek grill, bumper, and front are more angular and refined, and the Kicks played up its two-tone color design, closed the distance between the front lights and grille, and merged the lower air-intake vents with the grill. The Nissan Kicks look better despite starting for less, but the Crosstrek has a more retro SUV feel.

Placing both cars side by side, it’s noticeable that the Crosstrek is considerably larger than the Kicks and has a higher ground clearance. On the base model, the Crosstrek is 176.5” long,  61” wide, and sits 6.9” above the ground. The Nissan Kicks, in comparison, is 169.1” long, 59.8” wide, and has 8.7 inches of ground clearance. On higher trims, the difference is more distinct.

Interior

The interiors of the Nissan Kicks and the Crosstrek are similar, and that’s not a good thing.

The Kick, despite being the cheaper subcompact, starting at $19,000, offers a surprising level of quality on its interior. It plays with contrasting material colors, has very comfortable seats, and generously uses hard plastics on the interior. The steering wheel is a bit small and cheap-feeling, but you can opt for a flat bottom replacement and heating on higher-level trims. All levels come with an infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple Car Play support. On the SR and limited, you can upgrade the basic 6.5-inch screen to an 8.0-inch one, and the Bose personal audio is also available.

The Subaru Crosstrek interior prioritizes comfort over function, and that is evident in its dull-looking but comfortable seats, and its basic 6.5″ infotainment system. While you do get heated seats, a faux carbon-fiber trim, better stitching, and an 8.0″ screen, satellite radio, and a heated steering wheel on better options on the basic trim, it’s uncomfortably similar to the Kicks, and that is problematic, considering the Crosstrek starts at $23,000.

The Subaru Crosstrek somewhat redeems itself in this category with the cargo space.  It has 20.8 cu- ft of space behind the rear seat, which is smaller than the Kick’s 25.3 cu-ft, but when you fold down the seats, the Subaru opens up to 55.3 cu-ft. The Kicks cannot compare with its 33.2 cu-ft extended space.

Performance

The Subaru Crosstrek dominates the Kicks completely on the road. The base Crosstrek has a 2.0L Flat 4-cylinder engine with 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque under the hood and an option to upgrade to the powerful 2.5 -liter engine.

The Kicks, in comparison, offer no competition. It has a simple 1.6-L inline 4 cylinder Gas Engine with 122 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. The Nissan Kicks runs on a CVT, and so does the Crosstrek, but only on higher trims with a 2.5 L engine. The base model comes with a 6-Speed manual transmission instead and supports All-Wheel Drive. The Nissan Kicks, unfortunately, is Front Wheel Drive on all trim levels.

Considering the Kick’s engine, it should be no surprise that it has some of the best Fuel Economy in its class. It is rated for 31 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on highways. The Nissan Crosstrek, which also has a great Fuel Economy, looks bad next to the Kicks. It is rated for 22 MPG in cities and 29 MPG on highways.

Cost

With a starting price of $19,600, the Nissan Kicks starts low and does reach much higher. It comes with three trims– S, SV, and SR– and costs $22,140 on its maximum trim, which is still lower than the starting price of the Subaru Crosstrek. The car starts at $100 more at $22,245 and has 6 trim levels. The maximum trim is the Limited CVT AWD and costs $27,995.

Warranty

Both cars offer a detailed yet identical warranty scheme. They have Basic that covers up to 3 years, Corrosion for up to 5 years, Drivetrain, and Roadside Assistance for up to 3 years.

Verdict

Both the Nissan Kicks and Subaru Crosstrek are high-value options for the average subcompact SUV shopper. The Kicks offer most of the modern Knick knacks in modern SUVs while starting below $20k, and the Subaru Crosstrek offers a lot of cargo space and a powerful 2.0L engine, even on the base model.

If you’re considering the Kicks and Crosstrek, you’re probably in the $20-24k budget range. If you fall somewhere higher in that category, and you care about performance and cargo space, the base CVT AWD trim of the Crosstrek might be the best choice for you. Its performance far outstrips the Kicks, and it has a better interior. However, if you’re on a tighter budget and don’t particularly care about performance or space, then the max trim on the Nissan Kick is perfect. Nissan has a great financing plan, and most dealerships offer great discounts.

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Pavlo Prannyk
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