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As a automobile author, I am typically requested concerning the worst automobile I’ve ever pushed. One of many first fashions that inevitably involves thoughts is the bottom $10,000 Nissan Versa that debuted again in 2009. In comparison with the usual Versa of its day, this mannequin packed a less-potent engine, smaller metal wheels (wrapped in a few of the worst all-season tires I’ve encountered) and one of many creakiest interiors in reminiscence.

Within the decade since, the Versa has improved to the purpose the place it could possibly play the a part of primary Level-A-to-Level-B transportation respectably properly. The little Nissan’s enhancements have not been sufficient to place it on the head of the category with the pricier and extra subtle Honda Match, although. As a substitute, the Nissan has run with the likes of the Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio and Toyota Yaris, battling it out for the title of “better of the remainder.”

Fortuitously, that is all modified due to this new 2020 Nissan Versa. Packing modernized and streamlined appears, a decent drive character and surprisingly lengthy listing of tech options, this new mannequin is price a better look.

Not a foul looker

To ditch the awkward, uninspired look of its predecessor, the newest Versa follows that acquainted automotive components: longer, wider, decrease. Nissan’s V-Movement grille together with different familial design parts like a floating roof and tasteful slathering of sheet steel creases add some visible depth. On my top-of-the-line SR tester, contrasting black exterior mirrors, a small rear spoiler and 17-inch aluminum split-spoke wheels present a touch of added aptitude.

Inside, the Versa’s environment are assembled from exhausting, however properly completed plastics. The “Gliding Wing” dashboard structure is not boring and really possesses some type. Vinyl sprint and door panel trim that includes contrasting burnt orange accent stitching on SR fashions truly even manages to carry one thing of a premium really feel to the desk. What would not really feel premium, nonetheless, is the tough, cheap-feeling leather-based steering-wheel wrap. I assumed was both rubber or pleather at first.

Different minor cabin letdowns embrace a entrance passenger seat that lacks a middle armrest and the occasional loud thud transmitted inside when rolling over ruts and potholes. Exterior of such quibbles, the Versa inside is stable, with ample area for adults in back and front, a number of cupholders and a beneficiant 15-cubic-foot trunk that swallowed the bounty from quite a few purchasing expeditions throughout my week with the automobile.

Gobs of tech

One other of the Versa’s robust fits is its spectacular of listing of obtainable expertise options. On all however base S trims, a Nissan Join system utilizing a responsive 7-inch touchscreen is in command of infotainment. It boasts Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite tv for pc radio, Bluetooth, and on the SR a six-speaker audio setup.

The Versa SR’s powerpoint recreation can be robust with a USB port and 12-volt outlet mounted the entrance decrease stack cubby. An extra two USBs are situated on the again of the middle console and simply accessible to riders in each rows of seats.

On the energetic security entrance, the Versa would not disappoint, both. Once more, excluding base S fashions, all vehicles come geared up with Nissan’s Security Defend 360 suite of superior driver help techniques. Security Defend contains ahead collision warning with computerized emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross site visitors alert with rear computerized braking, and excessive beam help. For an extra $300, a Comfort Package deal might be geared up including adaptive cruise management to the combo.

Nissan Join is responsive and might run each Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

A reliable experience

At finest, each Versa to this point has been forgettable to drive, and that continues to be largely true with this new 2020 model. Calling it “much less forgettable” is an correct description due to serviceable drivetrain and stable chassis tuning. Organising store below the hood is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder churning out 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. Within the SR, the I4 works with a constantly variable transmission that simulates gear adjustments, even at wide-open-throttle. This front-wheel-drive sedan just isn’t going to blow anybody’s doorways off, however pulling into site visitors and getting into expressways are a non-issue — this small sedan strikes out at a decent clip.

Collectively, the Versa’s drivetrain mixture returns an EPA-estimated 32 miles per gallon within the metropolis and 40 mpg on the freeway. I managed to look at 32.5 mpg all through every week stuffed with largely floor road mileage — spectacular given my admittedly heavy proper foot.

On street, the Versa affords ample energy and cozy experience demeanor.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Dealing with within the Versa can be a pleasant shock. This sedan maneuvers with ease due to flippantly weighted however responsive steering. The MacPherson strut entrance and torsion beam rear suspension tuning veers extra to the consolation finish of the spectrum, as you’d count on for a car of this kind. This setup absorbs impacts properly with out being overly comfortable or sloppy when rounding corners, thanks partially to the SR’s wonderful (and surprisingly premium) Continental ContiProContact tires. When you’re not going to have a ball slinging it round, the Versa is nice experience for milling round city.

Sure, the brand new Versa’s driving expertise could also be “much less forgettable,” however on this case, that is an excellent factor — earlier fashions caught in a single’s head for all of the improper causes.

How I would spec it

As engaging (and as extra entertaining) as choosing a $14,730 Versa S with a five-speed handbook transmission could be from a driving standpoint, I would go for one in all this mannequin’s extra expansively geared up trims. Metal wheels with hubcaps, going with out the extra feature-rich model of Nissan Join infotainment and lacking out on fashionable security options like blind spot monitoring are deal breakers for me on a every day driver.

This Versa SR’s sub-$20,000 price ticket represents enormous worth.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

My construct can be based mostly on a SR trim painted electrical blue metallic, identical to my tester. Pricing for this mannequin begins at $18,240, not together with $895 for vacation spot. I’d additionally mirror my tester’s choices listing, together with the $300 Comfort Package deal for adaptive cruise management and two-stage heated entrance seats, plus the $210 flooring mats. The one distinction on my excellent Versa can be can be the addition of the $300 middle armrest compartment choice — price it to get extra storage and provides entrance passengers one thing to perch their left arms on. All in, my Versa SR’s price ticket comes out to simply $19,945.

A nice shock

So far as small, reasonably priced and environment friendly vehicles go, the 2020 Nissan Versa is lastly a standout when it comes to styling and most of all, tech. Being a snug and competent driver helps its case, too. The enhancements come as Nissan’s smallest sedan sheds the title of most reasonably priced new automobile in America, which is one thing I do not assume they need to be too damaged up about.

If I used to be purchasing this phase, my selection would doubtless come right down to the Versa and the Match, with the Honda in the end edging the Nissan barely due to its extra involving driving character. I would completely perceive going with a Versa as a substitute, although. It is a prime contender in its class as we speak, and that is one thing I would not have thought potential a decade in the past — or possibly even final 12 months.

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