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If you are considering a small SUV, the 2019 Nissan Kicks should be at the top of your test-drive list.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2019 Nissan Kicks is one of several new subcompact crossovers that are only offered with front-wheel-drive. But with a sophisticate traction control system and a good set of winter tires, most divers will never need all-wheel-drive.

Once or twice a year, I encounter a car that I really don't want to give back at the end of my weeklong press loan. The 2019 Nissan Kicks is my first favorite of 2019. In a week of rainy day driving, including a trip over the coast range to the beach and back, I found that I looked forward to driving the Kicks each day, and that it met my family's needs admirably.

The Kicks is part of the new class of subcompact SUVs that are offered only with front-wheel-drive. Others in this class include the Toyota C-HR and the Ford EcoSport. Portlanders who commute through hills or mountains tend to think we need all-wheel-drive, especially in the winter. But the fact is that with modern traction and stability controls a FWD vehicle with a good set of winter tires will get most of us everywhere we need to go, and the cost savings at purchase time and in fuel economy can be significant.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2019 Nissan Kicks feels surprisingly large inside, and offers a lot of tech at a low price.

The Kicks comes with a 1.6-liter engine rated at a modest 125 horsepower. It's not a sports car, but the power is well matched to the vehicle. I never felt like I needed a lot more power. Nissan has been working on their continuously variable transmission, and it felt responsive and strong.

Inside, the Kicks feels bigger than it is, with plenty of headroom and 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. Fold down the rear seats and there's 32.3 cubic feet available. I filled the whole cargo area for my trip to the coast, and the large rear hatch made the Kicks easy to load and unload.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Like all subcompacts, rear seat room is restricted in the 2019 Nissan Kicks, but good enough for two adults for short trips.

The test car had the Premium Package on top of the SR trim, and it was as comfortable as many more expensive SUVs. Nissan provides a 7-inch touchscreen that supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The Premium package added an 8-speaker Bose sound system. The seats were upholstered in comfortable Prima-Tex leatherette, and the front seats were heated.

With the Kicks in your driveway, a trip to the grocery store or the home store is a pleasure. It's small enough to be nimble, and big enough to be usable. Visibility in all directions is excellent. With the Bose stereo playing your tunes, the Kicks is also a pleasure to drive on the highway or through the hills. Nissan has given the Kicks responsive steering and a suspension that's firm without being jarring.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Cargo space in the 2019 Nissan Kicks is impressive for a subcompact crossover.

The bottom line is this: If you're considering a small SUV, the 2019 Nissan Kicks should be at the top of your test-drive list. It's a great value for the money.

2019 Nissan Kicks SR

Base price: $19,585

Price as tested: $23,330

Type: Subcompact crossover

Engine: 1.6-liter four-cylinder (125 hp, 115 lbs-ft)

Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission

EPA estimated mileage: 31/36

Overall length: 169.1 inches

Curb weight: 2,672 pounds

Final assembly: Aguas, Mexico

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