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2014 Nissan Versa Note Ride and Review By Larry Nutson

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2014 Nissan Versa Note
America’s Best Selling Entry Hatch

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, New York Bureau
The Auto Channel

Nissan is on a roll. Nissan’s U.S. sales have grown faster than the total market.

For the first three months of this year, Nissan North America’s market share, its biggest market, is at 9.5 percent, up from 8.6 percent a year earlier.

CEO Carlos Ghosn wants 10 percent U.S. market share. He has a focus on brand image. And, new product has bolstered Nissan’s success and increased market share.

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The 2014 Nissan Versa Note is one of those new products that is bringing new customers. The Versa Note is a new model for 2014. It’s an EPA compact class, 4-door, 5-passenger hatchback based on the Versa sedan. The Versa Note is priced to attract customers with a starting MSRP of $13,990.

Now we often hear that Americans don’t like hatchbacks. Well, I’m not so sure. Consider all the minivans, SUVs and crossovers that have been purchased by many, many Americans who have grown to love the large, convenient to load, opening rear hatch.

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The Versa Note is just 163 inches long, slightly over 1 foot shorter than its sibling Versa sedan, thus making it much easier to park and maneuver in the crowded urban jungle that so many Americans now call home. The rear hatch opens up to 18.8 cuft of cargo space compared to 14.9 cuft in the trunk of the Versa sedan. And, the Versa Note offers an innovative Divide-N-Hide Adjustable Floor; a rear cargo adjustable floor board to hide items underneath. As you might conclude, I like hatchbacks for all these reasons.

Beyond the convenience factor, the Versa Note gets great fuel economy. The EPA test ratings for the CVT are 35 mpg combined, or 2.9 gallons per 100 miles, 31 city mpg and 40 highway mpg. On a 60 mile loop around Philly were I live, driving 95% of the time at highway speeds with the air conditioning on, I easily beat the highway rating with my 42mpg average. And, I go with the flow, moving along with the best of them on the highway.

The Versa Note makes use of today’s technology to reduce fuel consumption with Active Grille Shutters for improved aerodynamics on CVT-equipped models, electric power steering and low rolling resistance tires.

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I spent a week driving the top of the line Versa Note SV that had a base MSRP of $15,990 and was equipped with the $1,700 SL Package and an $800 Technology Package.

The 2014 Versa Note is offered in S, S Plus and SV trim levels. Optional are SV Convenience, Sport Value Package, SL Package and SL Tech Package. The Versa Note S features a 5-speed manual transmission, while the S Plus and SV models are equipped with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). EPA ratings for the 5-speed are lower than the CVT, so don’t be fooled by the lower price in the long run.

Powering the Versa Note is a 109HP, 1.6-L 16-valve 4-cylinder, and was mated to the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) on my test car. Around town in city driving the Note performs well and accelerates away from stop very adequately. Highway cruising is comfortable although I felt some performance was lacking when merging onto fast moving expressways.

The Technology Package, equipped on my test car, includes Nissan’s class-exclusive Around View Monitor. The system utilizes four small superwide-angle cameras mounted on the front, side and rear of the vehicle to provide a virtual 360 view of objects around the vehicle, with selectable split-screen close-ups of the front, rear and curb views, helping the driver maneuver the car into tight spots.

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The Technology Package also brings Nissan Connect with Navigation with a 5.8-inch color touch-screen display, Nissan Voice Recognition for audio and navigation, NavTraffic and NavWeather, POIs powered by Google, Google Send-to-Car, Streaming audio via Bluetooth, Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant, and heated sideview mirrors.

Standard safety and security systems on all 2014 Versa Note models include the Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) (includes dual-stage front supplemental air bags), front seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags, roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), Traction Control System (TCS) and Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with available Easy-Fill Tire Alert.

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The interior is well appointed, the seats are supportive and comfortable and ingress and egress is easy. The rear seats are surprisingly very suitable for adults. Heated front seats, a rear view monitor (soon to be required on all vehicles by Federal law) and keyless entry/ignition come with the SL Package. A nitpick, I must admit, is that the power outside mirror switch is mounted on the instrument panel instead of the door armrest. Granted there is only so much real estate on the armrest in a compact car, but I like to be able to adjust the outside mirrors while in my driving position, and not needing to lean forward to reach the mirror switch.

At the Chicago Auto Show back in February Nissan gave us an early preview of the 2015 Versa Note hatchback with the debut of the sporty new Versa Note SR. The new grade level is one of two new trims being added to the Versa Note lineup for its second year of production, along with the Versa Note SL. Both new grade levels go on sale this spring at Nissan dealers nationwide, joining the Versa Note S MT, S Plus CVT and SV CVT.

Also for the 2015 model year, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System with steering wheel-mounted controls becomes standard across all trims of Versa Note. One new option package is also being introduced for 2015, the SR Convenience Package, and new content is added to the SV Convenience Package and SL Tech Package.

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If you are interested to compare the Nissan Versa Note to other entry-level subcompacts you can do that right here on For more information and detailed specifications on the 2014 and 2015 Nissan Versa Note go to

If you like, download the free TheAutoChannel smartphone app. The My Test Drives App for both the iPad and iPhone is available for free on The Auto Channel app found in the Apple App Store. The Auto Channel's free "My Test Drives" app gives serious car shoppers the help they need to make test drive evaluations accurate, effective and meaningful

On a final note, the all-new 2014 Nissan Versa Note was named to the top spot on Kelley Blue Book's's list of 10 Best Back-to-School Cars.

Larry Nutson