2009 Nissan Versa

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Review: 2009 Nissan Versa


Introduction
Nissan's Versa has been on sale for two years and in that time has proven to be a competitive small car for a small price. It combines a fuel-efficient and powerful engine with smart packaging.

The Versa comes in S and SL trims and in sedan and five-door body styles, all of which (almost) use Nissan's 1.8-liter four-cylinder and a six-speed manual, four-speed automatic, or continuously variable transmission. The exception is the new-for-2009 Versa 1.6 sedan, which is aimed at the bargain-minded and gets a 1.6-liter four mated to a standard five-speed manual or the four-speed auto. Power is respectable and at the head of the segment (except for that of the new 1.6 model, which makes do with 107 hp), with the 1.8-liter four-cylinder making 122 hp.

Verdict
A Versa five-door placed second in a recent comparison test of $15,000 econoboxes, trailing only the Honda Fit. That car beats the Nissan in the fun-to-drive department. We did, however, note that the Nissan is a great overall value because what it lacks in sportiness it makes up for in stuff-carrying ability. Given its less sporty nature, the Versa also offers a more comfortable ride than the Fit.

Both the sedan and the five-door are roomy inside, partly because of the Versa's abnormally high — some might say dorky — roof. The hatch wears the tallish proportions much better than the sedan, offers more cargo room, and costs only slightly more. Our biggest complaint is that the front seats aren't very supportive and are difficult to adjust due to the Versa's narrow width, which dictates that the seat adjustment controls be mounted inboard below the center armrest.

What's New for 2009
Changes for 2009 are limited to the addition of the 1.6 sedan model. This de-contented trim level comes without a radio and offers air conditioning only as an option. Everything is removed from its interior that's not essential or load-bearing.

Highlights and Recommendations
Pricing for the Versa starts at just over $10,500 for the 1.6 sedan, making it the least-expensive sedan on sale today in America. The 1.8S model bumps the base price up to almost $14,000, and the 1.8SL sedan and hatch come in just under $17,000. Fully optioned Versas near the $20,000 mark.

Optional items include upgraded speakers, a power sunroof, XM satellite radio, and anti-lock brakes. One surprise option package features keyless start and Bluetooth phone pairing, equipment not normally seen in this class of vehicle.

The five-door is the most — wait for it — versatile of the Versa lineup and is the only model available with the CVT (standard and solely available on the 1.8SL hatch). Although the CVT-equipped five-door returns the best fuel economy, the attendant droning takes some getting used to, and the transmission saps what little fun there is in the Versa driving experience. For that reason, we would choose a 1.8S hatchback, which can be had with the five-speed manual or four-speed auto.

Safety
A tire-pressure monitoring system and front-seatbelt pretensioners are standard, as are front, front-side, and two-row curtain airbags. Anti-lock brakes are optional across the board. The Versa is not available with traction or stability control.

Content provided by Car and Driver.
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BB01 - 7/22/2014 7:04:07 AM