NISSAN VERSA NO LONGER CHEAPEST CAR
ON THE MARKET, AND THAT’S GOOD NEWS
For its first two generations, the Nissan Versa was the least expensive vehicle available on the market. That’s no longer the case, but that is good news.
The redesigned 2020 Versa subcompact sedan may be slightly more expensive but gives back with a long list of standard features that include many items often — make that usually — not available in the subcompact segment.
That holds true for even the formerly bare bones base S trim which shares such features as automatic on/off headlights with high-beam assist, Bluetooth hands-free phone, power windows with one-touch auto down for the driver’s side, 7-inch touchscreen, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, cruise control, and lane departure warning with its more upscale brethren SV and SR models.
The top-of-the-line SR trim, upon which this review is based, adds such niceties as a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels (the S model comes with15-inch steel wheels), LED headlights and fog lights, special SR fabric for the seats, automatic climate control, 6-speaker audio system with satellite radio, NissanConnect with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and blind-spot warning.
A Convenience Package that adds heated front seats and Intelligent Control is offered on the SR class as well for $800.
Imagine that. Adaptable cruise control in an economy vehicle.
All Versa models come with the a 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on the S model and a ontinuously Variable Transmission dubbed Xtronic is an option on the S and standard on SV and SR models. All Versas are front-wheel drive.
That power train could use a little more oomph with horsepower at only 122 ponies and torque at 114 pound-feet. Still, that's an increase of 14 and 7 percent over the previous model, and fuel numbers are outstanding. With the CVT, the Versa is rated at 32 miles-per-gallon city, 40 highway, and 35 combined using regular unleaded. Numbers are slightly lower (27/35,30) with the manual.
The extra features aren’t the only differences for the 2020 Versa. At 177 inches and 68.5 inches, the 2020 model is 1.6 and 1.8 inches longer and wider, respectively, than its predecessor. It also sits a bit lower, and cargo space is a generous 15.0 cubic feet in the SR and 14.7 for the S and SV.
As mentioned earlier, these improvements did come at a cost. The base Versa S with the manual transmission has a starting MSRP of $15, 625 including the $895 destination and delivery fee, a jump of about $2,200 over the cost of the 2019 model.
The SR starts at $19,135, and a well-equipped model with options like the Convenience, Electronics, and Lighting packages, center armrest with storage (very minimal storage), and carpeted floor and trunk mats ran the total on my test car to $21,490.
The SV is in between at $18,355.
What I liked about the 2020 Nissan Versa SR: It comes with a lot of standard technological features that are easy to operate. The redesigned included use of some higher grade materials for the interior, which raises cabin ambiance. Fuel economy is among the best in its class.
What I didn’t like about the 2020 Nissan Versa SR: The console’s storage compartment is so small it is pretty much useless. Legroom in the back is a bit on the stingy side (31.0 inches).
Would I buy the 2020 Nissan Versa SR? I would give it more consideration now than in the past. It’s no longer the least expensive vehicle on the market today, relinquishing that distinction to hatchbacks Chevrolet Spark and the Mitsubishi Mirage. But the Versa comes with many features that usually aren’t found in the segment.