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2020 Nissan Versa Performance Review


Performance: 6.2

The 2020 Nissan Versa has decent handling and good fuel economy. However, it has an underpowered engine and a slightly stiff ride.

  • While driving fun is not a hallmark of subcompacts, I expected a bit more from the Versa because it shares a platform with Nissan’s Kicks, whose nimbleness is among reasons the Kicks is a favorite city car of mine. The 2020 Versa exhibits similar dynamics — not much go power, but unexpected agility." --
  • One of our biggest gripes with the previous Versa was its indifferent on-road demeanor. … The new Versa improves on this with a pleasantly firm ride, accurate steering, and a progressive brake pedal. … No one will mistake the Versa for an enthusiast's car, but this extra dash of driving verve goes a long way." -- Car and Driver
  • "With a smoother-shifting CVT automatic, revised suspension, a more rigid body design, and an upgraded electric power steering system, the 2020 Versa exhibits a more composed and responsive feel on the road." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The Nissan Versa comes standard with a 122-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is optional. Most critics say the Versa's engine feels weak and that acceleration from a stop is poor. Some praise the CVT for its refinement in simulating gear shifts.

The Versa gets good fuel economy for the subcompact car class. It gets 32 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway with the optional CVT. With the standard manual transmission, the Versa gets 27 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.

  • The powertrain doesn’t have a huge surplus of power and torque, but it’s perfectly adequate for a 2,700-pound car. Around town and merging onto highways, it won’t leave you wondering when you’ll get there, but it also isn’t going to ramp up your pulse. It does what it needs to do and that’s just fine." -- Forbes
  • The Versa is still a seriously slow car. You’ll want to think twice, maybe three times before attempting to pass someone. The slowness means you’ll be flooring it often, and it’s loud when banging away near redline. … While the engine falls short, the CVT works very well. It’s responsive to your right foot, moving through its set ratios quickly and smoothly. You won’t miss having a traditional automatic." -- Autoblog
  • On initial acceleration and under hard acceleration, it’s true that the engine sounds coarse and unrefined, and it in no way offers rocketlike acceleration, but things greatly improve once you’re at traveling a constant speed." -- Automobile Magazine

Handling and Braking

The front-wheel-drive Versa has composed handling that's not as agile as some competitors but still somewhat engaging. Ride quality is on the stiffer side.

  • When it comes to cornering, the Versa isn’t so much fun as it is simply secure. Turn-in is a little slow and there’s some mild body roll. But the car is planted, and bumpy corners don’t upset the back end. Steering is accurate and nicely weighted, though light on feedback." -- Autoblog
  • The new suspension has improved the Versa's handling without giving up comfort. Its ride quality felt competitive for the class. While you can feel imperfections in the road, it at least dampens them effectively." -- Edmunds
  • "Once you get to a cruising speed, the ride is decent—the suspension keeps the body composed on the corners and the cabin is quiet for a subcompact sedan. The steering actually feels responsive and is on par with the rest of the segment." -- Motor Trend
U.S. News Best Price Program

2020 Nissan Versa

MSRP: $14,730 - $18,240

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