2020 Nissan Versa SR CVT

Looking for a car on a shoestring budget? The Nissan Versa gets a makeover for 2020 and is now a respectable entry among subcompact sedans. It boasts an upgraded cabin and smooth ride, as well as standard features you won’t find on some competitors including a seven-inch touchscreen, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection and automatic high beams.


The five-passenger 2020 Versa is available in S, SV and SR trims. Starting prices range from $14,730 to $18,240. The Versa used to be known as the cheapest new car you could buy. Now the Chevrolet Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage come in with slightly lower starting prices. But the Versa still offers good value for the money.


The front-wheel-drive Versa is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the base model. A continuously variable transmission is available on the S trim and standard on the SV and SR trims.


The ride is comfortable and smooth. No, you won’t mistake the Versa as anything akin to a performance vehicle. But it is surprisingly pleasant to drive. It’s definitely not quick, though. It’ll takes awhile to accelerate from a stop. Once you’re up to speed, acceleration happens a little more quickly. But you’ll still want to plan ahead for merging and passing at freeway speeds.


Fuel efficiency is decent for the class. EPA ratings for my tester are 32 mpg city and 40 mpg highway for a combined rating of 35. I got 35 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.


The interior is pleasant for the price point. Sure, there are a lot of hard plastics, but at least they look and feel okay. My tester has attractive black upholstery with orange trim.


Front passengers get nearly three more inches of space compared to the outgoing model. But backseat passengers get about six inches less. Still, there was enough room for my parents to comfortably ride in the backseat for relatively short drives.


Standard features include a rearview camera, cloth upholstery, six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, four-way manually adjustable passenger seat, seven-inch touch-screen infotainment system, four-speaker audio system, voice recognition, Bluetooth and three USB ports.


Standard driver assistance technologies that you’d expect to pay more for include automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, pedestrian detection and automatic high beams.


Available features include proximity keyless entry, remote start, automatic climate control, upgraded cloth upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, driver’s armrest, six-speaker audio system, satellite radio, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, LED headlights, alloy wheels, and heated outside mirrors.


Available driver assistance technologies include adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, driver alert monitoring, and a rear-seat reminder.


There are 14.7 cubic feet of trunk space which is pretty good for the class, and the wide opening makes it easy to load and unload bulky items. The rear seat split-folds 60/40 but doesn’t fold completely flat


The good:

Pleasant cabin that’s surprisingly roomy

Comfortable ride

Good fuel efficiency

Many standard and available driver assistance technologies

One of the cheapest cars you can buy with good value for the money


The not-so-good:

The Versa sure ain’t quick!


Pricing info:

My tester starts at $18,240. Premium paint is $395. Convenience Package is $300 and adds heated front seats and Intelligent Cruise Control. Carpeted floor mats and trunk mat are $210. Center armrest with storage is $300. Electronics Package is $855 and adds a map pocket light, illuminated kick plates and frameless auto-dimming mirror with universal remote. Lighting Package is $690 and adds external ground lighting and interior ambient lighting. Destination charge is $895 bringing the grand total to $21,885.


Bottom line:

If you’re shopping for an affordable subcompact car, the Nissan Versa is worth considering. If you can live with its dull performance, the Versa gives you good bang for your buck with its attractive interior, good fuel efficiency and long list of standard and available features.