- Far less dowdy than before
- Lots of safety tech
- More powerful
- Will mpg improve?
- Could get expensive
- No hatchback
The 2020 Nissan Versa’s much-needed makeover means better looks and more power.
The 2020 Nissan Versa sedan borrows its streamlined styling from the Nissan Leaf electric car, but that’s about all the two small cars share.
The 2020 Versa will go on sale in summer 2019 in S, SV, and SR trim levels and a choice of eight paint colors. For now, the Versa is only offered as a four-door sedan; it’s not clear if a hatchback Versa Note will eventually follow.
The redesigned Versa’s grille sits low with a wide, U-shaped chrome accent separating it from a shiny black panel. The headlights, which are LED units in high-spec 2020 Versa sedans, sweep well back into the fenders. From the side, the Versa has a low window line and slab sides that are largely shared with the Leaf. The Versa’s roofline arcs into its rear window and the rearmost roof pillars appear to float above the trunk lid thanks to a black plastic trim panel like that used on some other Nissan models. While the Leaf’s roof culminates in a hatchback body, the Versa has a wide trunk lid and arrow-shaped taillights that appear to point toward its license plate. An unpainted diffuser sits at the bottom of its bumper.
The Versa is powered by a 1.6-liter inline-4 paired to either a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) or a 5-speed manual transmission. The underhood setup is good for 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque, bumps of 13 hp and 7 lb-ft over last year’s model. No hybrid Versa will be available.
Nissan hasn’t said how fuel efficient it expects the 2020 Versa to be, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see the new sedan best last year’s 34 mpg combined with the optional CVT. Last year, the 5-speed manual transmission was restricted to the base Versa but Nissan hasn’t said if it will be available on higher-trim versions for 2020.
The Versa SR trim level is new to the automaker’s small car lineup and has sporty styling touches even though it’s not any more powerful than other versions of the Versa.
Inside, the new Versa has a clean, simple look with a 7.0-inch touchscreen mounted below a pair of vents and a second 7.0-inch display augmenting an analog speedometer in the instrument cluster. Climate controls and a small storage bin with auxiliary and USB ports sit below. The left-hand side of the instrument cluster's configurable LCD screen can display trip computer functions or an analog-style tachometer. The Versa SR features two-tone cloth upholstery with contrasting stitching, but Nissan hasn’t said what the seats in other versions will wear.
Nissan says the new Versa will be more spacious inside than the old model, though interior measurements aren’t yet available. Last year’s car was narrow but made surprisingly good use of its small footprint inside. The new car is about 1.5 inches longer and 2 inches wider than the old Versa.
Unlike last year’s Versa, which was light on active safety features, the 2020 Versa comes standard with forward-collision warnings, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, and automatic high-beam headlights. Blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, and adaptive cruise control are optional on some trim levels.
Standard equipment on all versions of the Versa includes power windows and keyless ignition. Heated seats, Apple CarPlay and Android compatibility, and automatic climate control are optional.
Nissan hasn’t said how much the 2020 Versa will cost. Last year’s model started at about $13,300 and topped out at around $17,700.