2020 Nissan Versa - With a V for Value; Review By Larry Nutson
2020 Nissan Versa
With a V for Value
By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
The driving plan for my “wheels-of-the-week” 2020 Nissan Versa included a weekend jaunt from our Chicago home across lower Michigan to the suburbs north of Detroit.
We were celebrating Christmas a bit early with a daughter and her family. That meant hauling gifts along with weekend luggage plus my wife and me. You’ve got to work with the hand that was dealt. Sure a larger sedan or midsize SUV would have been nice for the 265 miles of driving. However, we’ll make it work with the Versa.
With the rear seatback folded, the 14.3 cu.ft. trunk combined with the rear passenger compartment provided plenty of room for all our stuff.
And, a little fuel consumption challenge is always fun on a road trip. I would have liked to make the drive east without refueling but I suspected from the get-go that wasn’t going to be the case. The 10.8 gallon tank along with my heavy foot didn’t bode well for no refueling. Time is always of the essence, you know.
I did manage 35 mpg on a 242 mile drive to our first stop with an average speed of 69 mph. That compares decently to the Versa’s 35 mpg EPA combined rating. I could have gotten closer to the 40 mpg EPA highway rating, but that has a corresponding time impact. EPA city rating is 32 mpg, by the way.
The Versa has decent highway road manners. Fortunately we had good driving conditions. As is usually the case, smaller, less costly cars have a bit fewer noise reduction measures. Engine sound is not intrusive while cruising but you do hear a bit more tire noise.
Nissan has redesigned the subcompact 5-passenger Versa for 2020. It’s longer, lower and wider with a more rigid body and new exterior styling that incorporates Nissan’s V-motion grille. Offered only as a 4-door sedan, three trims are available—S, SV and SR.
All three trims feature a 122-horsepower 1.6-liter 4-cylinder driving the front wheels. The base S trim offers a choice of a 5-speed manual or CVT automatic transmission. The SV and SR are offered only with the CVT.
Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 suite of automatic driver-assistance safety (ADAS) technology is standard on the SV and SR. Included are automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, lane departure warning, high beam assist, blind-spot alert, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Versa S is priced at $15,625 including the $895 shipping charge. This is clearly a price-leader offering for the cost conscious with its 5-speed manual and a reduced, but decent level of ADAS equipment. Ironically, it gets 5 mpg less in all the EPA mpg ratings. The SV with CVT is priced at $18,535.
For our road trip we drove the SR trim priced at $19,135. Options included a $300 Convenience Package, $210 for carpeted floor and trunk mats, $300 for a center armrest with storage, $855 Electronics Package, and $600 Lighting Package. The bottom line totaled at $21,490.
$21,490! That’s a really good value for what you get. For a city resident, who only needs a small car to get around doing household errands and for the occasional highway trip this Versa makes good sense. Even if you are bit on the active side and need to haul some sports or outdoor gear, there’s plenty of room for you and a friend.
We found the Versa’s front seats comfortable. We weren’t cramped at all on our road trip in this plus-sized subcompact. The cloth upholstery on the SR has some interesting character with contrasting colors and stitching. We enjoyed the 6-speaker audio system and listened to some podcasts using Apple CarPlay. Adaptive cruise control came as part of the convenience package. I used it a bit in lighter highway traffic conditions with no concerns or complaints.
I would have liked a bit more power for better overall performance. However the Versa is not bad. Cruising on the highway is just fine, even with decent overtaking power. Acceleration from stop doesn’t knock you back in the seat….but it gets you there.
More details on the 2020 Nissan Versa can be found at www.nissanusa.com. I certainly would recommend the Versa with all its safety tech over a comparably priced used car and it’s certainly a great choice for a new teen driver.
Many automakers have been reducing or eliminating their sedan offerings, Nissan has held firm in their belief in this body type. LMC Automotive says "despite the influx and popularity growth of compact SUVs, compact sedans will always have a place in the market. It’s the value that the segment has to offer. A bargain combination of cost, content and performance.”
Although SUVs are expected to make up more than 51% of sales in the US in 2020, compact sedans will continue to maintain a healthy share of the market for as long as they continue to offer the best value out there for the budget conscious consumer.
Sedans remain a popular choice for Gen X, Millennials and multicultural buyers.
© 2020 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy