2020 Nissan Versa first drive review: 15% more price, 100% more car

    In April, I entered into an informal transaction that tons of of hundreds — if not thousands and thousands — of Americans will discover acquainted. I walked as much as an airport rental automobile counter, signed some papers and walked out with a set of keys to a Nissan Versa. For a complete cocktail of causes, that have is prone to get lots much less frequent due to the automobile seen right here. It’s the all-new 2020 Nissan Versa, and it seems and feels totally in contrast to its fleet-favorite predecessor. This is an efficient factor. In fact, my early May rental expertise was totally unremarkable. The outgoing Versa was positively big inside, it had easy-to-master controls and the automobile drove, turned and stopped obediently and effectively. In a vacuum, the previous mannequin was a superbly acceptable motoring proposition. Problem is, if you happen to have been a small automobile shopper, the Versa did not exist in a vacuum, and nearly all the pieces else in its class was extra fashionable, compelling and substantial-feeling, from the Hyundai Accent to the Kia Rio, Chevrolet Sonic and Honda Fit. After a day’s drive on this new 2020 Nissan Versa, I’m happy to report that is not the case.  Part of the explanation the previous Versa was such a rental-counter staple was due to its ultra-low worth. For years, Nissan ensured it was the least-expensive new automobile offered in America, beginning at simply $12,460 (plus $895 supply charge). For 2020, nonetheless, this new technology begins at $14,730 (plus supply), a not-insignificant worth hike of simply over 15%. The excellent news is, the brand new Versa seems like 100% extra automobile.  
    It all begins with a totally fashionable exterior. The 2020 Nissan Versa is longer (+1.6 inches), decrease (-2.3 inches ) and wider (+1.8 inches) than its predecessor. Just as importantly, the brand new automobile additionally sits 0.8 inches decrease on its wheels. (The previous Versa’s homeliness was partly a operate of its unusually ethereal wheel wells.) Like a type of profitable geek-to-chic actuality TV makeovers, the 2020 Versa sits on the a lot the identical underlying framework as earlier than, but you’d by no means comprehend it, as a result of it is a wholly convincing transformation. The new mannequin seems much more up to date, polished and — dare I say it — upscale.  The top-trim 2020 SR ($18,240 plus supply) that I drove for many of my testing day in and round Nashville, Tennessee, options 17-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting and a rear spoiler, together with a brace of signature Nissan design cues shared with all Versa fashions, together with a distinguished V-Motion grille and floating roofline. It’s a fairly good-looking automobile. If something, the Versa may be accused of trying too acquainted — all of Nissan’s just lately redone 4 doorways, from the most recent Altima and facelifted Maxima to the corporate’s forthcoming Sentra appear and feel a bit homogenous, like they’ve taken 1980s BMW’s “one sausage, three sizes” styling philosophy to coronary heart. If that is the worst criticism that may be leveled towards this design, although, so be it — the brand new Versa’s look is worlds extra convincing than the awkwardly rounded, tiptoe-stanced look of the previous automobile.Versa is 2.3 inches decrease total and rides a helpful 0.8 inches decrease on its wheels than final yr.
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    If, like me, you have been apprehensive about how the 2020 Nissan Versa’s glossy new seems would possibly take a toll on the previous automobile’s positively cavernous inside and trunk house, concern not — the information is usually good. While headroom up entrance takes a slight 0.3-inch shave, a 2.7-inch enhance in legroom to a class-leading 44.5 inches greater than makes up for any shortfall, and there is significantly extra hip and shoulder room, too.  In again, rear-seat headroom is once more shaved by 0.3 inches, but it surely’s rear-seat legroom that actually takes successful, down a full 6.0 inches. That’s an enormous comedown, however in fact, second-row cabin house continues to be class aggressive, it is simply that the previous mannequin’s gawky, upright proportions lent themselves to offering freakishly NBA-spec legroom. Substantial enhancements in rear seat hip and shoulder space likewise means it would not really feel tight or claustrophobic again there. Cargo room is mainly unchanged at a beneficiant 14.7-to-15 cubic ft, relying on mannequin trim. What that tape-measure hairsplitting would not let you know is how a lot nicer and extra fashionable the 2020 Nissan Versa’s inside feels. It’s as dramatic an overhaul as this sedan’s outdoors. Gone is the bubbly, rounded and discount-plastic-intensive cabin of the 2019 mannequin. In its place is a slimmer “Gliding Wing” dashboard, extra substantial-feeling supplies and a complete host of latest options. A brace of ordinary objects contains pushbutton begin, a seven-inch reconfigurable gauge cluster display, a racy-looking flat-bottom wheel and an up to date seven-inch show audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on all fashions save the price-leading S trim. Embedded navigation is unavailable, however ergonomics are a robust swimsuit, with easy, easy-to-decipher infotainment, HVAC and steering wheel controls.  It’s genuinely tough to overstate how a lot of an enchancment this cabin is over the past Versa.
    Chris Paukert/Roadshow
    Like this automaker’s different current efforts, the Versa options “Zero Gravity” entrance seats, which proved to be accommodating over my hours of driving. My taller copilot did specific some discomfort as our day wore on, nonetheless, so guarantee that if you happen to’re buying round, that you simply take time to correctly assess consolation.  A doubtlessly bigger concern looms across the Versa’s aforementioned HVAC system. Our launch occasion occurred within the wilting late-July Tennessee warmth, with temperatures hovering round 90 levels paired with increased humidity. By the tip of our drive, our 2020 Nissan Versa’s air-conditioning system felt fairly properly maxed out. We weren’t uncomfortable, however with the automated local weather management set to its lowest diploma setting, it merely did not really feel like we have been getting the air temperature that readout promised. If you reside in a persistently scorching a part of the nation, that is one thing you will need to check out. We’ve come all this manner with out spending a phrase speaking about what powers the 2020 Nissan Versa. That’s largely as a result of the brand new Versa is outlined extra by its dramatic inside and exterior adjustments than it’s by what’s beneath the hood. Pop the bonnet and you will find Nissan’s new “Gen3” HR16DE engine, a 1.6-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder. Tuned right here to appreciate 122 horsepower (+12%) and 114 pound-feet of torque (+7%), this front-wheel-drive economic system automobile is accessible with both a five-speed guide or a constantly variable transmission. The latter figures to be the much more frequent alternative, and Nissan says its Xtronic CVT has been strengthened with bolstered belts to permit for a 12% decrease gear at 25 miles per hour, together with up to date shift logic that yields each smarter throttle response and higher total effectivity.Sadly, no manual-transmission fashions have been out there for testing.This absolutely loaded SR value $20,040 delivered. Still a good worth, it is treading near class-above fashions just like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.
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    The Versa’s up to date driving expertise feels a number of orders extra polished than earlier than, with the powertrain being appreciably quieter and fewer thrashy than final yr’s mannequin. Nissan’s Xtronic transmission unit obliges little of the stretched-rubber-band RPM swoon that may be a frequent blight on the likability of CVTs. And total noise, vibration and harshness is properly managed. Having mentioned that, at the least when geared up with the CVT, the Versa continues to be not significantly entertaining to drive, merely competent. Rivals just like the Honda Fit and Mazda-sourced Toyota Yaris sedan really feel extra energetic and lighter on their ft, although they commerce away some refinement within the cut price. On the hilly, winding roads outdoors of Nissan’s adopted hometown of Franklin, Tennessee, it was straightforward to understand dealing with enhancements made doable by adjustments to the automobile’s steering, suspension and construction. However, even with my Versa SR’s surprisingly premium 205/50R17 Continental ContiProContact all-season rubber, the Versa’s chassis and throttle response nonetheless did not really feel as sprightly as Nissan’s personal new Kicks crossover. The fact is, most individuals won’t ever want or need to toss one thing just like the Versa down a rustic street, so it is in all probability sensible that Nissan has as a substitute chosen to emphasise total journey high quality and low noise ranges as a substitute of driving verve. Even nonetheless, in gentle of how Nissan has managed to bake-in a stunning quantity of fun-to-drive DNA in its equally powered, equally chassis’d (and really inexpensive) Kicks SUV, it is a slight disappointment to search out that the Versa is not extra vigorous behind the wheel. Range-topping SR fashions are fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels.
    Chris Paukert/Roadshow
    Fuel effectivity metrics are inside a hair of the outgoing mannequin’s scores, and that is no dangerous factor contemplating these new fashions weigh round 200 kilos greater than their forebears due to the aforementioned enhancements in dimension, tools and robustness. EPA estimates name for 32 miles per gallon metropolis, 40 mpg freeway and 32 mpg on the mixed cycle for Xtronic-equipped fashions. Base five-speed guide fashions fare considerably worse, registering ho-hum 27/35/30 scores. You might should pay a whopping $1,670 extra to get a CVT within the base S mannequin (all different Versa trims come customary with two pedals), however the effectivity good points ought to make that surcharge simpler to swallow. Entry-level vehicles such because the Versa are prone to be bought for younger drivers by mother and father or by cost-conscious seniors, so security options are significantly essential on this class. To that finish, the brand new Versa encompasses a ton of latest superior driver-assistance programs, together with some tech that is not out there on competing fashions. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection is customary, as is rear auto brake and lane-departure warning. Even automated high-beam headlamps are customary throughout the road. A 1.6-liter 4 with 122 hp and 114 pound-feet of torque powers all 2020 Versa fashions.
    Chris Paukert/Roadshow
    On mid-level SV trim ($17,640 plus supply) and above, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert are added, together with a primary driver-awareness monitor and rear-door alert, an alert system designed to stop drivers from by chance leaving individuals or issues within the again seats. These are uncommon options at this worth, as is the SR’s distant begin functionality. Adaptive cruise management is accessible for $300 as a part of an possibility bundle with heated entrance seats. Overall, the brand new 2020 Nissan Versa is vastly improved. It not seems like a commodity automobile, one thing entry-level customers and rental-fleet patrons resign themselves to easily as a result of the previous mannequin was America’s most cost-effective new automobile. This new mannequin is directly extra enticing, higher to drive and extra cohesive total. Despite a not-insubstantial worth hike, the 2020 Versa continues to be competitively priced, and most significantly, it seems like a significantly better worth than earlier than — particularly on midrange fashions that do not have backside traces that tread intently towards class-above fashions just like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Of course, this automobile’s new, increased price ticket will virtually actually imply you will see fewer Nissans lining the tons at Hertz, Enterprise and Alamo. Like the brand new Versa itself, although, properly… that is no dangerous factor.This is much better geared up to battle Hyundai’s Accent, Honda’s Fit and Toyota’s Yaris.
    Chris Paukert/Roadshow
    Editors’ observe: Travel prices associated to this characteristic have been lined by the producer. This is frequent within the auto trade, as it is extra economical to ship journalists to vehicles than to ship vehicles to journalists. While Roadshow accepts multi-day automobile loans from producers in an effort to present scored editorial critiques, all scored automobile critiques are accomplished on our turf and on our phrases.The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s editorial workforce are our personal and we don’t settle for paid editorial content material.

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