2024 Subaru Crosstrek Vs. 2024 Nissan Kicks: Which Is The Better Subcompact SUV For You?

The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek and 2024 Nissan Kicks are small SUVs with different intents. Subaru kicks off the third-gen 2024 Crosstrek with a stiffer chassis, standard AWD, a pair of naturally aspirated Boxer engines, and a Wilderness trim with a raised suspension and chunky all-terrain rubber. If the rugged countenance is any indication, the Subaru Crosstrek is for active buyers who like spending the weekends and holidays in the wild outdoors.

On the contrary, the 2024 Nissan Kicks is a small crossover for city dwellers prioritizing affordability, style, and the latest tech and safety gadgets. However, the Kicks is getting long in the tooth and is itching for a revamp, having graced the market since 2018. In this regard, the Crosstrek has an advantage and is all-new for the 2024 model year.

But then again, the Nissan Kicks starts at about $5,000 less than the Crosstrek, a significant amount given that both crossovers are about the same size and offer the same levels of interior and cargo roominess. With that in mind, which is the better subcompact?

2024 Subaru Crosstrek: Ready for rugged adventures

Highlighting the third-generation Subaru Crosstrek is a 10% stiffer Subaru Global Platform with more welding points and adhesives. The reconfigured styling includes slimmer headlights, aggressively sculpted body panels, and a frameless hexagon front grille. All Crosstreks have 8.7 inches of ground clearance, while the Crosstrek Wilderness offers up to 9.3 inches. Moreover, it has the requisite off-road goodies like custom LED fog lights, redesigned front & rear bumpers, a ladder-type roof rack, and a tuned suspension with longer-travel dampers and coil springs.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter Boxer four-cylinder engine with 152 horsepower. However, the 2.5-liter Boxer four in the Crosstrek Sport, Limited, and Wilderness trims is the better choice, with 182 horsepower and 178 lb-ft. of torque. Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel drivetrain and a CVT gearbox are standard on both engines, while Crosstreks with the 2.5-liter engine get paddle shifters for the eight-speed CVT gear ratios.

The base Subaru Crosstrek has 19-inch alloys, steering-responsive LED headlamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 7-inch infotainment display, smartphone connectivity, and a four-speaker audio system. Other variants have an 11.6-inch touchscreen, larger alloy wheels, wireless smartphone connectivity, and a power driver's seat. Subaru's EyeSight driving assist includes adaptive cruise control, lane centering, lane departure mitigation, and forward collision warning.

2024 Nissan Kicks: Fit for the urban grind

The 2024 Nissan Kicks has much going for it besides its reasonable MSRP. It has a whole load of standard advanced driving assistance tech and a fun-to-drive demeanor, but it's only available in front-wheel drive. All Nissan Kicks variants have a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. The standard gearbox is an Xtronic CVT.

The Nissan Kicks is not the quickest or most vigorous due to its sluggish engine and gearbox combo. Still, it returns an EPA-estimated 36 mpg on the highway and 33 mpg combined, excellent news if you're concerned about fuel economy.

Despite its sub-$21k base price, the Kicks does not skimp on standard goodies like a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, a six-speaker audio system, smartphone connectivity, and cruise control. In addition, all Nissan Kicks models have Nissan Safety Shield 360, including automatic high beams, rear parking sensors, forward collision mitigation, blind-spot monitoring, reverse automatic braking, and lane departure warning.

Subaru Crosstrek vs Nissan Kicks: The verdict

The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek starts at around $23,300 for the base model and up to $34,000 for the top-of-the-line Wilderness trim. Meanwhile, the 2024 Nissan Kicks begins at under $21,000 and up to $23,500 for the range-topping SR trim. The price difference alone means the Nissan is for budget-conscious yet tech-savvy consumers, while the Subaru is for those who want a more rugged and off-road capable small SUV.

Practicality aside, the Crosstrek has a mediocre 19.9 cubic feet of room behind the rear seats, while the Kicks offers 25.3 cubic feet. Then again, folding the second-row chairs reveals up to 54.7 cubic feet in the Subaru and 32.3 cubic feet in the Nissan.

The Subaru Crosstrek is our small SUV of choice owing to its newness and all-terrain capabilities, but it's hard to ignore the Nissan Kicks with its sportier styling and laundry list of standard features. The Kicks is due for an update soon, and we'll have to see if Nissan has the goods to outrank competitors like the Subaru Crosstrek.