First Drive: New 2020 Nissan Versa Adds Visual Style to Its Basic Look

Consumer Reports' testers have driven the Versa for more than a thousand miles. Find out what we like and don't like, so far

2020 Nissan Versa review, sedan driving, front angle

Update: Since this first drive was originally published in November 2019, we finished testing the Versa.

See the complete Nissan Versa road test.

The Nissan Versa has always been an unabashedly inexpensive car. But when Nissan redesigned it for 2020, the automaker added features and visual pizzazz to make it seem less basic.

Those who remember the Versa as a sub-$10,000 hatchback should recalibrate their pricing expectations: The Versa Note hatchback is gone, and the sedan-only Versa now starts at $14,730, plus a destination fee. The base model, S, comes with a five-speed manual transmission—a rarity these days. To its credit, every Versa includes key advanced safety features.

Nissan Road Tests

We tested a version most buyers would choose—a midpriced SV trim with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The SV level adds blind spot warning (BSW), heated exterior mirrors, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a driver's seat armrest, and fold-down rear seats.

We've logged more than a thousand miles as we break in the vehicle.

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What we bought: 2020 Nissan Versa SV CVT
Powertrain: 122-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine; continuously variable transmission; front-wheel drive
MSRP: $17,640
Options: $445 (Splash guards, carpeted floor mats, trunk mat)
Destination fee: $895
Total cost: $18,980

CR’s Take

Nissan has slightly elevated the entry-level Versa with a fresh look and new standard safety features. Considering its low price, some of the Versa’s shortcomings are to be expected. But others—such as a brittle ride and slow acceleration—make the Versa feel cheap, even compared with other inexpensive cars.

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