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2009 Nissan Versa 1.6 Sedan - $9,990 MSRP, 34 mpg

2009 Nissan Versa S

2009 Nissan Versa S

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Today Nissan announces a new entry-level 2009 Versa Sedan that's more affordable to both purchase and own. This vehicle rings in at a shocking $9,990 and achieves an EPA rating of 34 mpg on the highway with the 5-speed manual (33 highway with the 4-speed automatic). The vehicle goes on sale this November 18 at U.S. Nissan dealers.

This price makes the 2009 Nissan Versa 1.6 Sedan the lowest-price new car in the U.S. Says Brian Carolin, senior vice president, Sales and Marketing of Nissan North America, "it's our way of saying that in tough economic times, Nissan is here to help."

We wonder at the lack of Nissan's well-designed, ultra-efficient CVT in the Versa 1.6 Sedan. The CVT gives the more powerful 1.8-liter DOHC four found in other Versas identical highway mileage (33) to the ratio-challenged 4-speed auto in the Versa 1.6. Surely Nissan engineers could eke out 35+ highway mpg from this new fuel miser with a little more effort? The 2009 Honda Fit, with its zoomy 1.5-liter four, makes 28/35 EPA ratings even with an automatic, versus 26/34 for the Versa 5-speed manual.

They do mention that this Versa features "simplified content," as well as that it focuses "squarely on value and economy." We hope this doesn't mean no A/C, mouse fur headliner, a tinny two-speaker sound system. Still, with 107 hp and a thoroughly modern design, this new Versa might make a lot of sense for families who need a reliable vehicle that won't break the bank.--Colin Mathews

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