New Car Review
2017 Nissan Versa Note: New Car Review
Nissan excels at bringing style and novel features to its most frugal vehicles, and the 2017 Nissan Versa Note is a prime example. Although this subcompact hatchback is clearly intended to be a low-cost entry-level model, it doesn't look the part. Outside, the Versa Note's quirky styling is augmented by a new V-shaped grille and front fascia, a signature look for Nissan cars. Inside, the Versa Note contains a cavernous back seat. It's so big that four 6-footers could legitimately take a road trip in this car without compromise. There's no other compact hatchback like it. If you're willing to pay more, the high-end Versa Note models are packed with cool items, including the innovative Divide-N-Hide cargo bay and a touchscreen navigation system.
What's New for 2017?
For 2017, the base Versa Note S is dropped from the lineup. A new V-shaped grille brings more style to the little hatchback, while new interior features include larger cupholders, an additional 12-volt outlet (SV, SR and SL trims) and repositioned USB ports for easier access.
What We Like
Enormous back seat; good fuel economy with the continuously variable transmission (CVT); attractive styling; low base price; versatile Divide-N-Hide cargo area
What We Don't
Steering wheel doesn't telescope; sparsely equipped interior on cheaper models; so-so crash-test results
The front-wheel-drive Versa Note is powered by a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission is a CVT automatic, which helps the Versa Note attain an EPA-estimated 31 miles per gallon in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.
Options & Standard Features
The 2017 Versa Note comes as a 5-door hatchback in four trims: S Plus, SV, SR and SL.
The S Plus ($16,345) includes a CVT automatic transmission, 15-in steel wheels, crank windows, manual door locks and 4-way manual front seats that lack height adjustment, even for the driver. Power mirrors, air conditioning, Bluetooth and a 4-speaker CD audio system with an auxiliary input jack are standard, as is an active grille shutter that reportedly improves fuel economy and cruise control. Power windows and locks are still not available, however. S Plus options are similar to those on the base S model.
The SV ($17,245) adds power windows and locks, as well as keyless entry, upgraded interior cloth, a height-adjustable driver's seat with an armrest, NissanConnect with mobile apps and a 5-in color display, satellite radio (requires a subscription), a USB/iPod input, a rearview camera, Divide-N-Hide storage, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with auxiliary audio controls, and bright interior accents.
The SR ($18,845) adds suede seat accents, variable intermittent front wipers, a rear-seat armrest with cupholders, SR badging, 16-in aluminum-alloy wheels, a sporty grille and front and rear fascias, dark headlight surrounds, fog lights and a rear spoiler.
The SL ($19,575) features a range of special equipment, including NissanConnect with navigation and a 5.8-in color display, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, Nissan's 360-degree Around View Monitor, Easy-Fill Tire Alert, Nissan's Intelligent Key System with push-button start, heated outside mirrors, heated front seats and 16-in aluminum-alloy wheels.
The SV Appearance package adds 15-in alloy wheels, fog lights and variable wipers.
The SR offers the Tech package, which brings a larger 5.8-in touchscreen, NissanConnect (including a navigation system equipped with Sirius traffic and weather reports), a hands-free text-messaging assistant, Bluetooth streaming audio and Pandora Radio capability.
Trunk space in the Versa Note measures a useful 21.4 cu ft. behind the rear seatbacks, and that number nearly doubles if you fold them down. Moreover, the available Divide-N-Hide storage system adds a concealed cargo-floor compartment with a cover that can be lowered or removed to facilitate serious hauling tasks. It's a simple-yet-effective system, and we're surprised it took someone this long to dream it up.
The Versa Note comes standard with an anti-lock braking system, stability control and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain).
The 2017 Versa Note received four stars out of five in government crash testing, including three stars for frontal impacts and four stars for side impacts.
Behind the Wheel
The 2017 Nissan Versa Note welcomes you with straightforward controls and good visibility all around. The steering wheel doesn't telescope out, though, and it's a potential deal breaker for long-legged drivers. Although the presence of manual windows and locks (S Plus model) is a bit of a shock, we can't fault the comprehensively equipped higher trim levels. Materials quality is unremarkable by segment standards, but the panels in our test car seemed to be screwed together reasonably well. Either of the two optional infotainment display screens will really dress up the Versa Note's otherwise nondescript dashboard.
On the road, the Versa Note feels more substantial than its sub-2,500-lb curb weight would suggest. Credit goes in part to the well-tuned steering system, which is light in parking lots yet precise on the highway. There's some road noise on coarse surfaces, but that's to be expected at this price. While more power from the little 4-cylinder engine would be welcome, the Versa Note keeps up with traffic just fine. We haven't always been fans of CVTs in 4-cylinder applications, but the Versa Note's CVT is more responsive than most.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Chevrolet Sonic -- The Sonic has a tiny back seat compared to the Versa Note, but it's more rewarding to drive, especially with the optional turbocharged engine.
2017 Ford Fiesta -- Often overlooked, the Fiesta continues to be one of our favorites because it's so fun to drive, especially in the ST trim.
2017 Honda Fit -- The Honda Fit continues to stand alone as the versatility champ among small hatchbacks, offering SUV-like cargo capacity in a compact package.
Our pick would be the SV. At just over $17,000, it's a good value, and it has all the power and entertainment accessories expected in a modern vehicle.