2020 Nissan Versa Sedan

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2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Test Drive: Raising The Floor

If you went to any rental car counter and asked the attendant for the least expensive vehicle available, you'd probably be handed the keys to a Nissan Versa. For the past several years, Nissan's smallest vehicle in the US carried the distinction of being the least expensive new car on the market and with that honor, it became known as the car you rented for $15 per day but never ever considered owning.

For the 2020 model year, Nissan has completely revamped the Versa sedan with an all-new third-generation model. It may no longer be the least expensive car in the USA (that honor now goes to the Mitsubishi Mirage) but the Versa has been improved in every measurable way and is now the most compelling model in a rather uninspiring subcompact sedan class. With a more powerful engine, improved styling, and a radically new interior, this new Nissan Versa looks like a winner on paper. To see how it fairs in the real world, Nissan sent us a fully-optioned Versa SR to test drive for a week.

Read in this review:

9.0
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🚙What’s New For the New 2020 Nissan Versa?

The Nissan Versa has been completely redesigned for 2020. But, that doesn't mean that everything is brand new. Some notable improvements include the higher outputs from the four-cylinder engine, totaling 122 horsepower and 114 lb-ft. There are also more standard and available safety features under the Nissan Safety Shield 360 umbrella, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Perhaps the most appealing change, though, is the far more attractive styling of the sedan. The once homely Versa now sports chic sheet metal with design elements inherited from the Altima and Kicks.

Pros and Cons

  • Low starting price
  • Decent cargo capacity
  • Vastly improved styling
  • Appealing list of driver-assistance features
  • Competitive fuel economy
  • Unremarkable acceleration
  • Tight rear seats
  • Glare from the infotainment screen
  • No longer America's cheapest sedan
  • Lacks the suspension sophistication of its larger siblings

Best Deals on 2020 Nissan Versa Sedan

2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
S
1.6L Inline-4 Gas
5-Speed Manual
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$14,830
SV
1.6L Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$17,740
SR
1.6L Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$18,340
See All 2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Trims and Specs

2020 Versa Sedan Exterior

2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Forward View CarBuzz
2020 Nissan Versa Sedan View Out Back CarBuzz
2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Frontal Aspect CarBuzz
See All 2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Exterior Photos

Dimensions

  • Length 177.0 in
  • Wheelbase 103.1 in
  • Height 57.3 in
  • Max Width 68.5 in
  • Front Width 59.8 in
  • Rear Width 60.2 in
  • Curb Weight 2,599.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Brilliant Silver Metallic
  • Gun Metallic
  • Super Black
  • Fresh Powder
  • Electric Blue Metallic
  • Monarch Orange Pearl Met
  • Scarlet Ember Pearl Metallic
  • Aspen White TriCoat Pearl

2020 Versa Sedan Performance

2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Aft View CarBuzz
2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Gear Shifter CarBuzz
2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Motor CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine
    1.6L Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmissions
    5-Speed Manual, Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

It may not be a speed demon but with less than 2,800 pounds to haul around, the Versa feels remarkably spry and nimble. The steering requires very little effort, helping the Versa scurry around tight parking lots with ease. It may not provide a ton of feedback through the wheel but at higher speeds, the Versa feels more planted than previous models, no longer feeling burdensome or dangerous at highway speeds. Road noise is also relatively low for a vehicle in this segment, though the cabin can be a little loud at highway speeds.

The torsion beam rear suspension lacks the sophistication found in the larger Sentra with its independent setup but over smooth pavement, the Versa is shockingly comfortable for a subcompact vehicle. Large bumps can upset the rear end for sure but overall, we were impressed by the Versa's stability and comfort. As a nod to cost-cutting, the Versa's rear brakes are drum units rather than discs but thanks to the low curb weight, we never felt like the car couldn't stop in time.

2020 Versa Sedan Interior

2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Steering Wheel CarBuzz
2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Driver Chair CarBuzz
2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Central Console CarBuzz
See All 2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 44.5 in
  • Front Head Room 39.5 in
  • Rear Leg Room 31.0 in
  • Rear Head Room 36.3 in

2020 Versa Sedan Trunk and Cargo Space

2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Rear Seats Down CarBuzz
2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Trunk Space CarBuzz
2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Trunk Space with Seat Folded CarBuzz
  • Trunk Volume
    14.7 ft³

2020 Versa Sedan Safety and Reliability

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 Nissan Versa Sedan a good car?

The previous generation Versa is a car that we'd be happy to never drive ever again but this new model is such a remarkable improvement, we'd happily recommend it as a first car for a new driver. Nissan has outdone itself with the level of safety technology available at such a lot price, combined with handsome exterior styling and a much-improved interior. The Versa still feels sluggish compared to larger, more powerful vehicles but it is now among the most powerful models in the subcompact sedan class. It is also extremely frugal, sipping fuel at the same rate as many hybrid vehicles.

In addition to other subcompact competitors like the Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent, and Toyota Yaris, buyers in the sub-$20,000 price range may be looking at a plethora of used models that are larger and more powerful. A used option may have more power and space but it's hard to argue with Versa's available tech and safety features, which are coupled with a new car warranty. For the first time ever, we think we'd be more inclined to recommend a brand-new Versa over a comparably priced new car.

Check out other Nissan Versa Styles

2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Comparisons

Nissan Sentra CarBuzz
Honda Fit
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Nissan Versa Sedan122 hp32/40 mpg$15,580
Nissan Sentra 149 hp28/37 mpg$19,950
Honda Fit 130 hp29/36 mpg$16,190

2020 Nissan Versa Sedan vs Nissan Sentra

Like the Versa, the Nissan Sentra is all-new for 2020. It gets a more noticeable pump in power from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, still easily outpacing the Versa with 149 hp and 146 lb-ft. But that's not to say the Sentra is a high-performance sedan, with similar acceleration times to the smaller Versa. The larger sedan is more premium inside, though, with leatherette or leather upholstery and more available comfort features, but it doesn't actually offer more passenger or cargo capacity than its subcompact sibling. With slightly worse fuel economy and a higher starting MSRP of $19,090, the new-generation Sentra may have swapped places with the Versa in terms of value for money. Still, if you can afford to look at the upper mid-to-upper trim levels, the Sentra has more to offer than its more budget-friendly sibling.

See Nissan Sentra Review

2020 Nissan Versa Sedan vs Honda Fit

The Honda Fit may not have received a significant update for 2020, but it probably doesn't need one to compete with the Nissan Versa. As a hatchback, it naturally offers more practicality than the sedan, with a whopping 52.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity. But the standard 16.6 cubic feet is still impressive. The Honda also manages to offer more space for its rear-seat passengers, and its cabin materials are on par with, if not better than, the Versa's. In terms of features, the two cars are neck and neck, with most of the desired tech only unlocked as you move up the trim levels. However, the base-level Versa offers more at a similar price to the Honda. With similar power front its four-cylinder engine (128 hp and 113 lb-ft), the Honda Fit may not be the clear-cut winner it used to be in this comparison.

See Honda Fit Review

2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Popular Comparisons

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2020 Nissan Versa Sedan Video Reviews

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