We’ve all heard of compact crossovers, but what about subcompact crossovers? Just when you thought SUVs couldn’t get any smaller, automakers had to come up with a petite version of the already petite crossover. Yes, subcompact crossovers are real things, and they are much more useful than you might expect. To best understand this segment and what it offers, a comparison of two of the segment leaders may be helpful. So without further ado, let’s look at this comparison: 2020 Ford EcoSport vs 2020 Nissan Kicks.
Starting With the Space
Since these are exceptionally tiny vehicles, we thought it might be best to get things started with the seating and cargo space. While these two vehicles are small, they are still bigger than a sedan. For drivers who need to travel with luggage or passengers, there is ample room for one, the other, or both. The space inside is very similar, but seeing how these two compare can help in understanding the different amounts of space offered in this segment.
The 2020 Ford EcoSport has seating for five and 20.9 cubic feet of cargo space in the back. If you need more room than that, you can fold the second row of seating down to expand the area to 50 cubic feet. Not so tiny after all, huh? As for the 2020 Nissan Kicks, it also has seating for up to five people. However, the cargo area is slightly larger. It offers just over 25 cubic feet in the back and about 53 cubic feet of maximum storage space. These numbers are very similar and showcase the subcompact crossovers accurately.
How Do They Perform?
Now, you’re probably wondering what’s under the hood. While compact crossovers are known for offering suitable power and excellent gas mileage, subcompact crossovers can do you one better. If you want to save money at the pump, this is the class of vehicles to look at. Let’s pop the hoods of these two models and see what’s underneath.
Most 2020 Ford EcoSport models are equipped with a turbocharged 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine, a 6-speed automatic transmission, and FWD. This powertrain generates 123 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque. While it won’t be winning any races anytime soon, it has a fantastic estimated fuel economy set at 28 mpg combined (27 city/29 highway). If you want something a bit sportier, you can opt for the SES trim. This model uses a more powerful 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, a 6-speed automatic transmission, and 4WD to produce 166 hp and 149 lb-ft of torque. While it drops the average fuel economy down to 25 mpg combined 23 city/29 highway), it also bumps the towing capacity up from 1,400 pounds to 2,000 pounds, which is fairly impressive for such a small vehicle.
As for the 2020 Nissan Kicks, this petite crossover is only available with a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. Mated with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and FWD, it pushes out 122 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. This is where things get interesting. This engine is larger than the standard EcoSport engine, but it is also weaker. Meanwhile, it gets slightly better gas mileage (31 city/36 highway), but it can only pull 114 pounds. Essentially, that’s nothing. It cannot be used to pull anything. Recognizing this is important because it is telling of what you can and cannot get from different cars in the segment.
All About That Base…Trim
As a quick note before we dive into the base trim specs, the EcoSport is offered in four trims while the Kicks is only available in three. But it is important to go over what each trim provides to know what type of features you can expect to find when looking at subcompact crossovers.
The base EcoSport is known as the S. It comes with height-adjustable front seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, 60/40 split-folding back seats, and a snazzy infotainment system. This advanced interface is displayed on a 4.2-inch monitor that functions with a USB port, a 6-speaker sound system, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 4G LTE Wifi hotspot. For safety, emergency braking technology has been installed. Rolling on 16-inch wheels, it also features automatic headlights.
On the other hand, the Kicks offers a height-adjustable driver’s seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, and a comparable infotainment system. This interface comes with a 6-speaker stereo system, a trio of USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 7-inch touchscreen. Overall, the Kicks is missing the Wifi hotspot, which is a highly sought-after feature these days. It does, however, come with safety systems such as emergency braking, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert, blindspot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and high beam control. Riding on 16-inch wheels, this base model also comes with automatic headlights.
And Those Mid-Level Trims
Next up, we have the EcoSport SE. This mid-level model features keyless ignition/entry, heated front seats, automatic climate control, a sunroof, and leather wrappings on the shift knob and steering wheel. The infotainment system has also been upgraded to Sync 3. It comes with a larger 7-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, and compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. For added safety, rear parking sensors have also been installed. On the outside, LED daytime running lights have been added as well as fog lamps, a windshield wiper de-icer, and body-colored accents.
Meanwhile, the Kicks SV features keyless entry, remote start technology, automatic climate control, satellite radio, and compatibility with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. With 17-inches wheels, this mid-level model comes with exterior features like heated mirrors, body-colored accents, and roof rails.
And Of Course, the Premium Trims
The top-tier EcoSport Titanium includes luxury features like leather seating, HD radio, and a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system. Exterior features that have been added are heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, chrome trim, and metallic accents.
On the other hand, the Kicks SR only gets a 360-degree parking camera system and leather wrappings on the shift knob and steering wheel. It keeps the cloth upholstery. On the outside, the SR comes with a rear spoiler, black side mirrors, foglamps, and LED headlights.
Don’t Forget the Sport Trim
The EcoSport SES is the athletic model in the lineup. It comes with cool features such as leather seating with cloth inserts, a heated steering wheel, ambient cabin lighting, a 110-volt household-style power outlet, a navigation system, and a 7-speaker sound system. It also includes safety features like blindspot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The exterior is quite nice. It includes 17-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, a sport-tuned suspension, and black accents. You may also opt for the Black Appearance package for a black decal on the hood, a black spoiler, and a black roof.
The Nissan Kicks does not have a sport trim for comparison.
The Outer Walls
For fun, let’s take a look at what colors the EcoSport and Kicks have to offer for their exteriors. First, the 2020 Ford EcoSport is offered in 10 colors. These include Diamond White, White Platinum, Shadow Black, Moondust Silver, Smoke, Blue Candy, Lightning Blue, Race Red, Ruby Red, and Canyon Ridge. On the flip side, the 2020 Nissan Kicks is available in only seven shades, including Gun Metallic, Fresh Powder, Aspen White Tricoat, Brilliant Silver Metallic, Super Black, Cayenne Red Metallic, and Deep Pearl Blue. There are so many colors available for both, but that is usually the case for most vehicles in most segments.
The Final Takeaway
The subcompact crossover segment has a lot to offer in terms of giving drivers the capability of an SUV and versatility of a sedan. With enough space for passengers and cargo, capable engines, and tons of features, it’s no wonder drivers are gaining interest in this segment. And today’s comparison of the EcoSport and Kicks is further proof of these subcompact crossover benefits, the EcoSport even more so.