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Auto review: 2018 Nissan Kicks is an affordable SUV with plenty of style 

Sometimes you feel that as good as life is, it can always be better. It’s like eating a hamburger and realizing it would have been tastier with melted cheese on it. But then you look at the person seated near you eating a bologna sandwich and realize things could always be worse.

It’s not unlike traveling abroad.

As nice as it is to experience different countries, upon returning, you feel lucky to live in America. Because, for example, if you live in Brazil and want to buy the new Nissan Kicks, you’ll find it’s a pricey premium vehicle, something it’s not in the United States. Here, the new 2018 Kicks is an amazing value that starts at $17,995. Offered in ascending S, SV and SR models, this vehicle is filled with features that, for the money, make it a great value, like a 60-percent-off sale at Macy’s.

Importantly, every Kicks gets Automatic Emergency Braking, which brakes the car if it senses a collision is imminent. Bluetooth, three USB ports, a rearview monitor, keyless entry, push-button start, roof rails and automatic headlights are also standard. Opt for the SV and you get Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, blind-spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, body color heated outside mirrors and outside door handles, rear tonneau cover, automatic climate control, seven-inch driver display, SiriusXM satellite radio, and remote engine start. SR models get additional LED lighting, fog lights, special trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a monitor that gives a 360-degree view around the vehicle. It also gives you access to the Premium Package, which includes a Bose eight-speaker audio system, heated front seats and a security system.

And it’s wrapped in a wardrobe that looks modern without seeming goofy, like the late Nissan Juke. The car’s side sculpting gives the car a deceptively long look. It’s seems sporty yet urbane, even though it wears the latest in Nissan design hallmarks, including the floating roof and V-Motion grille. And it comes in seven colors and five two-tone color combinations.

Climb inside and you’ll find the seats are firm and oddly bolstered but supportive. The tall seating position and generous headroom lends the interior a deceptively large feeling. The center console is padded on the sides where front driver and passenger’s knees hit, a small but important amenity. Legroom is plentiful up front and surprisingly good for this car’s length. Rear-seat passengers enjoy less legroom, but it’s adequate. However, rear-seat height is higher than most competitors, unusual for a class where a too-low seating position is the norm. Cargo space is a generous 25.3 cubic feet.

There are a couple sore points, the first being the cup holders. They are buried in the back of the center console, and are lower than you might expect. Thankfully, there are others integrated into the door map pockets. The second is the rear-view mirror, which has roughly cut edges that prove how little Nissan paid for each one.

Performance is peppier than you’d expect given the 125 horsepower from its all-aluminum 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. That sounds meager until you realize that the Kicks weighs 2,672 pounds. Its continuously variable transmission delivers power to the front wheels; all-wheel drive and a manual transmission aren’t available. Thankfully, the transmission seems to be in the proper ratio most of the time, with little of the rubber-banding typical of CVTs. The engine emits a low moan that never proves bothersome.

Don’t expect driving kicks from the Kicks; that is not its mission. Rather, the 2018 Nissan Kicks offers sophisticated sporty style, a comfortable ride, generous cabin space and loads of equipment at prices mere mortals can afford.

It’s like remembering to order a hamburger with cheese.

2018 Nissan Kicks

Base price: $17,990-plus

Engine: 1.6-liter DOHC four-cylinder

Horsepower: 125

Torque: 115 pound-feet

EPA fuel economy: 31 mpg city, 36 highway

Wheelbase: 103.1 inches

Length: 169.1 inches

Cargo capacity: 25.3-53.1 cubic feet

Curb weight: 2,672 pounds

Ground clearance: 7 inches

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