Nissan Versa's 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine offers 122
horsepower and a 114 lb-ft of torque, paired with an Xtronic
transmission or a 5-speed manual.
Amazon might be
Americaís favorite retailer, but itís not Americaís largest
private employer. That honor belongs to Walmart, although Amazon
does place second. Itís sobering to think that so many Americans
work for $14.26 an hour, the average Walmart wage for a full-time
worker, according to the company, while the average wage of an
Amazon warehouse worker is about $14 an hour, according to
$30,000 a year before taxes.
Now consider that the
average price of a new car was $37,169 in July, according to KBB.com.
This explains why Nissan redesigned the Versa for 2020: Thereís
still a very real need for affordable basic transportation in the
While the Versa was
once cheapest car in America, thatís no longer the case. Yet,
starting at $14,730 for the Versa S with a standard ó if outdated
ó five-speed manual transmission, itís still among the cheapest.
Opting for the automatic transmission Versa will set you back at
least $16,400, although itís standard on both the mid-level SV
trim, which starts at $17,640, and the top-of-the-line SR with its
$18,240 price tag.
If that still seems
spendy, keep in mind itís an astonishing 60% less than the average
price of a new car.
Yet for 2020, the
Nissan Versa has never been a more tempting proposition thanks not
only to its low price but also for its flashy new wardrobe. Looking
much like a pint-sized Altima, the Versa wears Nissanís trademark
V-motion grille, floating roof and C-pillar design cues worn by its
larger siblings. Itís a welcome change from its dowdy predecessor,
which was actually designed for China; Nissan federalized the car
for the U.S. Once it did, the United States quickly became the
carís biggest market.
Although the new
Versa still uses the previous Versaís platform, the 2020 model is
1.6-inches longer and 1.8-inches wider, yet 2.3-inch lower in height
than the 2019 model. As you might expect, headroom decreases
slightly while front seat legroom increases by nearly three inches.
Of course, now that China is no longer the Versaís biggest market,
rear seat room ó a Chinese priority ó has taken a big hit. Now
measuring a mere 31 inches, space has shriveled by more than 16% in
the 2020 Versa. You have to wonder since the extra length went since
it didnít go to the trunk, which sees a 0.3 cubic foot decline in
space. And yet you may not notice it once seated inside. With a
little accommodation from front seat occupants, the rear seat proves
priorities differ from the Chinese, so youíll be interested to
know that the Versa is crammed with an impressive array of driver
assistance safety features, like automatic emergency braking with
pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, lane departure warning
and high beam assist. SV and SR models also get blind spot warning
and rear cross traffic alert.
And thereís a
decent list of standard stuff, like automatic headlights, power
windows with driverís one-touch auto up/down, speed-sensing auto
door locks, front map lights, front door map pockets with bottle
holder, dual front and rear cupholders, cruise control, illuminated
steering wheel controls for audio and cruise control, remote keyless
entry, and rear view monitor. But there are items missing, such as a
center console bin to rest your arm on. In fact, a driverís
armrest is optional. Yet thereís no need to opt for it since
itís placed too high for comfort.
The cabin feels more
upscale than its frumpy predecessor thanks to its leatherette-clad
instrument panel, glossy interior accents and 7.0-inch color
touchscreen. A four-speaker AM/FM audio system with Bluetooth, three
USB ports and a power point are standard, while NissanConnect
featuring Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and SiriusXM Satellite Radio
are added on SV and SR models.
1.6-liter four-cylinder engine generates 122 horsepower and 114
pound-feet of torque through a continuously variable automatic
transmission, although a five-speed transmission is offered on base
S models. Power is adequate for a grocery getter, but like many
vehicles with CVT transmissions, the engine feels sluggish off the
line as it moans, reluctantly responding to requests for more power.
This makes entering a highway a slow and sometimes terrifying
affair. Fuel economy is OK, but not stellar. Driving more than 400
miles over the course of a week netted 32 mpg. Steering does return
some road feel however, and braking is sufficient. The front
independent and rear torsion beam suspension returns an acceptable
ride for a subcompact, but this is far from a stimulating drive.
Certainly the 2020
Versa is better than the car it replaces, feeling less like a
penalty box and more like a real car. But this segment boasts a
number of strong competitors, such as the Honda Fit, Chevrolet
Sonic, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio and Toyota Yaris.
Cars in this class
are rarely known for their driving excellence. Itís all about
value for the money, and in that regard, the Versa is hard to match.
Even in top SR trim with every option, you wonít break $20,000.
And while thatís not exactly chump change for most of us, in an
era where the average vehicleís price is nearly twice that, the
2020 Nissan Versa seems hard to resist ó as long as youíre not a
2020 Nissan Versa SV
Base price: $17,640
EPA fuel economy
(city/highway): 32/40 mpg
Ground clearance: 6.8
Cargo capacity: 14.3
Curb weight: 2,657