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2020 Nissan Versa Enters the Big Leagues

The All New Versa May Be Good Enough to Replace the Nissan Sentra

The all new 2020 Nissan Versa anchors the Nissan lineup in the United States. It provides a lower priced competition facing the Hyundai Accent and Toyota Yaris. Nissan has simplified the Versa lineup to three trim levels.

The S trim is the base model and with a standard 5-speed manual transmission. The SV trim is the volume trim and will represent the bulk of Versa sales. The top-of-the-line SR model checks all the boxes. There is one option package that includes adaptive cruise control.

Clearly the 5-speed manual will be.a very low demand feature and exists simply to be a price leader.

The 2020 Nissan Versa is a 4-door sedan only. The gawky Versa Note was dropped when the new Nissan Kicks crossover SUV was launched in 2018. Nissan management at the Versa launch event oddly would not admit Kicks replaced the Versa Note.

The styling of the 2020 Nissan Versa brings it in to the “real car” league. Stylists did not make it deliberately ugly like many sub-compact cars. The styling of the new car is leagues better than its predecessor.
The new Versa is longer, lower and wider than the 2019 Versa.  The problem, in the eyes of AutoPacific, is that it is lower. The lower roof leads to compromised headroom.  To fix this Nissan lowered the seats.  Lowering the seats makes ingress/egress more difficult.  Versa’s package is a victim of styling.

Why is this a big deal? Most driver-owners will never ride in the rear seat.  But Versa is a perfect candidate for Uber or Lyft use. There a spacious and easy to get into rear seat is very important. When that was mentioned to Nissan management, their eyes glazed over. If that is the only hiccup, Okay.

The cockpit and interior come across like a much more expensive car. The materials are top notch. They have a good touch and feel. The gauges are easy to read and comprehensive. The screen in the center stack is bright and uncluttered. There is no on-board navigation available. Nissan is moving away from vehicle-dependent NAV since so many of their buyers are opting instead for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Those features are standard on the SV and SR trims but not on the base S model.

There is a basic suite of safety features that are now expected in even the least expensive cars in a mainstream manufacturer’s lineup.

The 2020 Nissan Versa is powered by a 122HP 1.6L 4-cylinder engine mated to the latest CVT development by Nissan. Nissan has been a strong advocate of CVTs for decades and this version is excellent.

Ed Kim, AutoPacific’s Vice President of Industry Analysis wonders if Versa might replace the Nissan Sentra compact. Sentra is one product segment above the sub-compact segment.  As Versa gets bigger it moves very close to the Sentra.  Ultimately, will Versa relpace Sentra and absorb Sentra’s capacity at the huge Nissan Aguascaliente plant in Mexico?

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