Review: 2009 Nissan Versa
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.
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
Highlights and Recommendations
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.