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2020 Nissan Versa Review

The fully redesigned 2020 Nissan Versa sits in the middle of our subcompact car rankings. It has an excellent predicted reliability rating and a nice interior, but it suffers from poor acceleration and dull handling.

Pros & Cons

  • Solid list of standard features
  • Excellent predicted reliability
  • Low base price
  • Appealing interior quality
  • Very weak engine
  • Slow touch-screen responses
  • Mediocre second-row space

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Nissan Versa ranked #6 in Subcompact Cars. Currently the Nissan Versa has a score of 7.9 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 11 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.9

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.1
Performance: 6.2
Interior: 6.8
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 8.0 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Nissan Versa a Good Car?

Yes, the Versa is a good subcompact car. The cabin is full of impressive materials, and while the back seat isn't as roomy as it used to be, there's plenty of seating space. The Versa has a very weak engine, but it has a smooth transmission and returns solid fuel economy estimates.

Should I Buy the Nissan Versa?

This newly redesigned Nissan Versa is more expensive than previous models, but it’s a decent value. You get a healthy list of standard driver assistance features, many of which aren't available in rival subcompacts.

The Versa's starting MSRP of less than $15,000 may look appealing, but you can only take advantage of that price if you buy the base model with the manual transmission. Models equipped with the automatic transmission start at $16,400. That price is a little above average for the class.

For a less expensive car, consider the Chevrolet Spark, which starts at $14,320 with an automatic transmission. If you're looking for a more engaging drive, check out the lively Kia Rio and its peppy acceleration and spry handling.

Compare the Versa, Spark, and Rio »

Should I Buy a New or Used Nissan Versa?

The 2020 Nissan Versa is fully redesigned. Chief improvements include a nicer interior layout with better materials, along with many standard and available driver assistance features. The 2020 model comes standard with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights, and forward and reverse automatic emergency braking. Also available are blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, driver alertness monitoring, and a rear-seat reminder.

The 2020 Versa also gets a bump in horsepower (up 13 from the previous generation) and receives some tweaks to the suspension, body, and chassis. However, there's less rear legroom in the new model.

If these changes aren't important to you, consider an older model that likely costs less than a new Versa. Nissan axed the Versa Note hatchback for this new generation, so if you want that model for more cargo space and utility, your only choice will be to buy used.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Versa and 2019 Versa reviews to help make your decision. You can also check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Versa »

We Did the Research for You: 11 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 11 Nissan Versa reviews – along with reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2020 Versa is the right new car for you.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain objective, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team manages the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Nissan Versa Cost?

The 2020 Nissan Versa starts at $14,730. That price is relatively low for a subcompact car, but the Versa is no longer the cheapest new car you can buy, as previous models were.

Additionally, that MSRP is for a base model with a manual transmission. Most shoppers will probably be looking at the base S trim with the continuously variable automatic transmission, which starts at $16,400. Two higher trim levels – the Versa SV and SR – retail for $17,640 and $18,240, respectively. Those prices are still very reasonable for the class, and since Nissan offers few options for the Versa, don't expect to pay much more than that.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great deals at your local Nissan dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Nissan deals page.

Nissan Versa Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Nissan Versa or Kia Rio?

The Kia Rio is a subcompact car that has a lot to offer. It's available as both a sedan and a hatchback, and the latter serves up a ton of cargo space. The Rio also boasts admirable performance in a class not known for it. A 130-horsepower engine helps deliver swift acceleration, and handling is lively. That’s in contrast to the Versa's mostly dull driving dynamics. Both cars have a similarly impressive interior quality and adequate seating space.

While the Versa comes standard with a touch-screen infotainment system and several active safety aids, the Rio is short on technology. Aside from a rearview camera, the only driver assistance features in the Rio are forward collision warning and forward automatic emergency braking, and you have to buy the highest trim and an option package to get them. The base Rio also only comes with a 5-inch touch screen and lacks amenities like cruise control. Unless you prioritize the Versa's additional safety features, the Rio is a slightly better car overall and a smarter buy.

Which Is Better: Nissan Versa or Chevrolet Spark?

The Chevy Spark, a hatchback, is not as good as the redesigned Versa. While the Spark offers up more cargo space, it only seats four people, and the second row can be cramped for adult travelers. This Chevy is lacking under the hood, with a meager 98-horsepower engine that provides lackluster acceleration. Neither car delivers particularly good performance – the Spark has easy maneuverability but an unrefined automatic transmission, while the Versa has unengaging handling and smooth transmission response.

With the Versa's redesign and increase in price, the Spark is now the least expensive new car on the market. That's evident in some low-rent interior pieces, wind noise that invades the cabin, and subpar fit and finish. The Spark is also a contradiction when it comes to features. Its standard touch-screen infotainment system includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a Wi-Fi hot spot, but the Chevy doesn’t come standard with power locks and windows, key-fob entry, or cruise control. Go with the Spark if you're on a tight budget, but for many buyers, the Versa will likely be a better fit.

Compare the Versa, Rio, and Spark »

Versa Interior

How Many People Does the Versa Seat?

The Nissan Versa seats five people. As a result of the redesign, the 2020 Versa provides better accommodations to front-seat passengers, with almost 3 more inches of leg- and hip room compared to the 2019 model. Overall comfort is pretty good, but the seats could use a little extra padding. It also may take time to find a comfortable driving or riding position, as only manual seat adjustments are available. The lack of power controls is common for a budget-focused car though.

What the Versa gains in front-row space, it loses in the back. Rear-seat legroom is down about 6 inches from the previous generation. You'll want to test the space for yourself if you regularly ferry adults in the back seat. Taller riders may feel cramped because of limited head- and legroom.

Versa and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors for the Versa’s rear outboard seats, as well as an upper tether for the rear middle seat. The tether anchors are set deep in the seats and may be difficult to access.

Versa Interior Quality

Previous versions of the Versa set the bar pretty low for interior quality. The cabin was full of hard, dull plastics, and everything felt low-rent. The redesigned 2020 Versa remedies that and boasts a more refined atmosphere. Most surfaces are still plastic, but they have a higher-quality look and feel.

Each trim has unique cloth upholstery, and all are impressive. Build quality is improved too, with a better fit and finish for interior panels and doors.

Versa Cargo Space

The base Nissan Versa S has 14.7 cubic feet of trunk space, while the SV and SR trims offer 15 cubic feet. Those numbers are decent for a subcompact car.

All models besides the base with the manual transmission come with a 60/40 split-folding rear seat. However, the seat doesn’t fold completely flat, so it may be hard to haul longer items. On the plus side, the cargo opening is wide, and the trunk is deep.

Versa Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Versa comes standard with a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system. It's easy to use, but it's occasionally slow to respond to your inputs. The rest of the dashboard and center stack has an intuitive layout of large, clearly marked buttons and knobs that are easy to reach.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard in all but the base model. These smartphone integration options may alleviate some of the hiccups with the Versa's native interface. Optional features include satellite radio, a six-speaker stereo, automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, and remote start.

Read more about interior »

Versa Performance

Versa Engine: Still Not That Good

Under the hood of the 2020 Nissan Versa is a 122-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. That's a slight bump from the 109 horsepower in the previous-generation Versa. Despite the improvement, this little car is still very slow in most situations. It takes a while to get going from a stop, but acceleration smooths out at higher speeds.

A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) comes in all but the base model. The CVT operates smoothly and mimics conventional shifts with ease.

Versa Gas Mileage: Above Average

The 2020 Versa with the CVT gets an EPA-estimated 32 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. Those numbers are impressive for the subcompact car class. Stick with the manual transmission, and you'll get an estimated 27 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.

Versa Ride and Handling: Balanced but Bland

The front-wheel-drive Nissan Versa takes corners with composure and feels planted to the road. It exhibits some body lean, however, and while steering is responsive, there's not a lot of feedback from the road.

Ride quality is a little stiff, but most bumps in the road are absorbed well enough.

Read more about performance »

Versa Reliability

Is the Nissan Versa Reliable?

The 2020 Nissan Versa has an excellent predicted reliability rating of 4.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Nissan Versa Warranty

Nissan covers the Versa with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Versa Safety

Versa Crash Test Results

At the time of writing, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2020 Nissan Versa.

Versa Safety Features

The 2020 Versa comes standard with forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, and forward and reverse automatic emergency braking, in addition to lane departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights, and a rearview camera.

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

Read more about safety »

Versa Dimensions and Weight

The Nissan Versa is about 14.7 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 2,599 to 2,729 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Nissan Versa Built?

Nissan builds the 2020 Versa in Mexico.

Which Nissan Versa Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 Nissan Versa is available in three trims: S, SV, and SR. All models come with a four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is optional in the base model and standard in higher trims.

The base Nissan Versa S has a low starting price, a standard touch-screen infotainment system, and some driver assistance features including pedestrian detection and forward and reverse automatic emergency braking. However, it makes the most sense value-wise if you stick with the manual transmission.

Going with the CVT in the base model adds about $1,700 to your purchase price, and at that point, it's worth spending another $1,250 or so for the midlevel Versa SV. That trim comes with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and satellite radio. You'll also get blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, driver alertness monitoring, and a rear-seat reminder.

Nissan Versa S

The 2020 Nissan Versa S starts at $14,730. Standard features include cloth upholstery, a six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, a four-way manually adjustable passenger seat, a rearview camera, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, forward and reverse automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and automatic high-beam headlights.

The standard 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system includes Bluetooth, three USB ports, a four-speaker stereo, and voice recognition.

Optional features in all trims include a center armrest for $300 and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a universal garage door opener for $215.

The Versa S with automatic transmission starts at $16,400 and comes with a split-folding rear seat.

Nissan Versa SV

For $17,640, the Versa SV adds upgraded cloth upholstery, a driver's seat armrest, alloy wheels, heated outside mirrors, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and satellite radio. This model also comes with blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, driver alert monitoring, and a rear-seat reminder.

Nissan Versa SR

The top-trim Nissan Versa SR retails for $18,240. Standard features include sport cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control, a six-speaker stereo, proximity keyless entry, remote start, fog lights, and LED headlights.

The $300 Convenience package consists of adaptive cruise control and heated front seats.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Nissan dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Nissan deals page.

See 2020 Nissan Versa specs and trims »

The Final Call

The redesigned 2020 Nissan Versa is a solid car thanks to its much-improved interior, great predicted reliability rating, and solid fuel economy. But humdrum performance and a tight back seat keep the Versa from reaching the top echelon of the subcompact car class.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the car reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The 2020 Nissan Versa proves that buying an entry-level compact sedan doesn't mean you have to sacrifice comfort, convenience, safety and dignity. The new Versa is a marked improvement over the outgoing vehicle, and a good value." -- Autotrader
  • "Overall, the new 2020 Nissan Versa is hugely improved. It no longer feels like a commodity car, something entry-level shoppers and rental-fleet buyers resign themselves to simply because the old model was America's cheapest new car. This new model is at once more attractive, better to drive and more cohesive overall." -- CNET
  • "Given this top-to-bottom value and when taken as a whole, the Nissan Versa is a serious contender for the top spot in the subcompact sedan market. The weak engine prevents it from being an obvious best, but that aside, the Versa is an excellent combination of attractive design, useful space, generous feature content and a competitive price. It's hard to ask much more from a car like this." -- Autoblog

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: November 7, 2019

Steady, Class Leading Sales: The fully redesigned Nissan Versa is currently the best-selling subcompact car. However, sales in 2019 have remained constant relative to the same period last year.

Research more buying advice »
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