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2020 Nissan Versa SR

Nissan has a new car for those who want a new car—not a ute.
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2020 Nissan Versa

(Images: Nissan)

Although some OEMs are treating sedans—especially small sedans—like some sort of creepy thing that you’d find along the road and poke with a stick with a “yeeew,” in point of fact there are still plenty of people who have not succumbed to the allure (odd though that word is in this context) of the crossover or SUV, and would still like to buy, well, a car.

And credit to Nissan for developing a new one, the 2020 Versa.

Yes, that’s right, a new car.

Why Go Used?

The thing is that this is a front-drive car that even with the $300 “Convenience Package,” which includes such things as heated front seats and Intelligent Cruise Control (that is not a typo), floor mats ($210), and destination and handling ($895) comes in at under $20,000, as its starting MSRP is $18,240.

And know that The SR trim is the top-of-the-line and there is the Versa S, with a five-speed manual transmission, that starts at $14,730.

2020 Nissan Versa


Realize that once upon a time, people could pick up a used car rather than a new one and the elements of said used car were such that they were readily accessible for the proverbial “shade-tree mechanic” to access. And when is the last time you saw a shade tree? And let’s face it, nowadays mechanics really are, by and large, technicians, and tend to price like a technician would be wont to do.

Which makes it all the more compelling for some people to want to buy a new car rather than used because they’d prefer not having to deal with potential problems that are lurking somewhere under the hood of that car that was allegedly driven only by a senior citizen on Sundays on the way to church.

Two-car Garage?

Another thing to think about is that according to the latest data from Kelley Blue Book, which knows more than a little something about this subject, the estimated average transaction price (i.e., what people actually paid at dealers) for a light vehicle in the U.S. in September 2019 was $37,590.

Which means that someone could actually buy two Versa SRs for that average price ($18,240 x 2 = $36,460), although the destination and handling for those two would put them over the top, though I suspect that were you to go into a Nissan dealer and say that you wanted to buy two Versas, at the very least the salesperson would throw in the mats.

A lot for a little.

2020 Nissan Versa

And look at the multitude of stuff that is packed into the SR:

  • Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Rear automatic braking
  • Lane departure warning
  • High beam assist
  • Rear view monitor
  • Siri Eyes Free and Google voice recognition
  • LED low-beam headlights
  • Heated exterior mirrors with integrated side turn signal
  • Leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob (which you’ll only use to select your PRNDL setting because the vehicle has a continuously variable transmission (CVT))
  • Key fob
  • Automatic climate control

Yes, a lot of stuff.

Anyway. . .

As previously mentioned, there is a CVT in the Versa (the S trim package is the only one that the manual is available in). It is mated to a new “Gen3” 122-hp  in-line four that is engineered for fuel economy; it has an estimated 32/40/35 mpg city/highway/combined (which is better than the numbers for the manual: 27/35/30 mpg, which just goes to show you that technology matters).

A surprising aspect of the new Versa, which was styled with Nissan’s “Emotional Geometry” design language, is that in this Age of the High H-Point it is actually lower, longer and wider than its predecessor.

As Giovanny Arroba, program design director, Nissan Global Design Center, put it, "The wheels are pushed out, there's an imposing grille presence, everything about it says lower, wider, longer."

Specifically, the 2020 Versa has a 103.1-inch wheelbase (up from 102.4) and is 177 inches long (from 175.4), 68.5 inches wide (from 66.7 inches) and the SR, the highest of the model set, 57.7 inches high (from 59.6).

Which probably goes to the point that people who are interested in getting a car probably want something that is comparatively low and sleek. (Let’s face it: If they want some sort of crossover Nissan has them covered in that space.)

2020 Nissan Versa


The interior is nice. Meaning that it is not going to make you think that you’re rolling in an Infiniti but also that you’re not going to wonder if this is what happens to corrugated cardboard after it is no longer an Amazon box. The interior designers did a step-up job on this car.

Underlying Impression

The 2020 Versa is not going to turn back the tide of the buyers of crossovers.

Arguably it is good enough, however, that it should turn the pink ink that the vehicle had for the first three quarters of 2019 black: in the U.S. Nissan delivered 57,133 Versas during that period, down 1.6% for the same period in 2018.

For those who are looking for an entry-level vehicle—an entry-level car that doesn’t seem, well, entry-level—the 2020 Versa could be just the thing.

2020 Nissan Versa