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2020 Nissan Versa steps up in style, technology Featured

Posted On Sunday, 09 February 2020 01:27 Written by
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The redesigned 2020 Nissan Versa is a vast improvement on its predecessor. The redesigned 2020 Nissan Versa is a vast improvement on its predecessor. Photo courtesy of Nissan

Long viewed as one of the more basic, low-priced vehicles available to buyers on a budget, the Nissan Versa comes back for 2020 with a redesign aimed at stepping up its status among subcompact vehicles.  

I recently spent some time in a 2020 Versa and I’m back with a full report on how impactful the changes for the new model were, and how it competes in the subcompact sedan segment.


While in the past the Versa mostly blended in and lacked character in its exterior design, the 2020 Versa makes a strong impression and delivers a big step up design-wise — with a new look that’s lower to the ground, as well as wider and longer, and featuring sharp lines.

A statement is also made with the new interior, which feels quite comfortable and is more upscale than its bargain basement price would lead you to expect. The Versa seats 5 people, though the rear seating will be tight for adults. Controls are well placed and easy to use.

The Versa comes with power windows, power locks, cruise control, keyless entry and push-button start.

Chrome interior door handles are featured, along with a shift knob with silver accents. The cloth seats are of high quality, while the rear seating has a 60/40 split and can be lowered to increase storage space. The Versa features 16-inch alloy wheels (17-inch on SR trim level), halogen headlamps, and heated exterior mirrors with integrated side turn signals.

An optional lighting package offers external ground lighting and interior ambient lighting, and you can also add a spoiler to the vehicle.

Higher trim levels upgrade to LED headlights, fog lights, and heated front seats.


The power plant pushing along the 2020 Versa is a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine, paired with either an automatic transmission (CVT) or a manual transmission. Numbers offered are 122 horsepower and 114 lb.-ft. of torque, a boost from the 109 horsepower and 107 lb.-ft. of the previous model Versa.

Still, despite this upgrade, don’t expect anything more than the price tag on the Versa would indicate. This is no hot rod, quite the opposite. It’s not powerful and takes quite a while to get moving (10 seconds to go 0-to-60).

All Versa models come with front-wheel drive, with no AWD option, which is normal for this class of vehicles. 

On the plus side, once the Versa gets going, the ride is about as smooth as you’ll find when you are driving a subcompact sedan — meaning it’s good but not great in terms of user experience. If that doesn’t sound too glowing, it’s not really a knock on the Versa. It’s a knock on the class as a whole. If you’re driving a subcompact, you won’t have a powerful engine, period.

I would rank my time driving a Versa as equal to or better than most of the vehicles in its class (Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio, Chevy Sonic, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent).


The Versa stands out in the subcompact category due to its unexpectedly strong list of tech and safety features for the segment.

While the 7-inch touchscreen was slow to respond at times, the infotainment system worked very well overall in my experience, including its understanding of voice commands without any issues.

The Versa features Bluetooth for music streaming and hands-free phone calls, a rear-view monitor, an AM/FM audio system with four speakers, and Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant.

Regarding safety, the 2020 Versa offers a plethora of features, including the Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite that includes: Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Rear Automatic Braking, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist, Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

The Versa also offers a helpful Intelligent Driver Alertness feature and Intelligent Cruise Control.

Air bags are aplenty, all seat belts come with pretensioners and load limiters, plus you get anti-lock brakes, traction control and a tire pressure monitoring system.

The NissanConnect system is also compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for phone mirroring, and SiriusXM Radio is available. In terms of inputs, there is one 12-volt DC Power Outlet and three USB ports.

Fuel mileage is a strong point for the Versa, with official numbers of 32 city/40 highway/35 combined. These numbers proved accurate during my time driving the Versa, and are strong numbers for the segment, beating most rivals.

My test vehicle was at the top of the price range for the Versa, at just over $21K. The base price, with a manual transmission, starts around $15K.

This is literally one of the most affordable new cars you can buy. To put it in perspective, sometimes the options on an upscale ride can bump up the final price by an additional $15K to $20K. With the Versa, that’s your entire price.

Add in a strong reliability factor, and the price is even more impressive.


If you need a new vehicle but don’t want to break the bank, and aren’t expecting massive amounts of space or power, the Versa offers a comfortable driving experience that will get you from Point A to Point B for the bare minimum price.

It’s a major step up in design from the previous Versa, and well-worth checking out for subcompact shoppers.

===== can be found
on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page. Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2020 Nissan Versa     
  • Price as tested: $21,005 (starts around $15K)  
  • Best feature: Affordability, strong tech and safety features for a subcompact  
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars   
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Buyers on a budget who aren’t focused on power or spaciousness   
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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