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2018 Nissan Versa Note: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader October 2017

The 2018 Nissan Versa Note proves you don't have to settle for dull styling and a barren interior just because you opt for a small, affordable and economical subcompact car. The entry-level Versa Note's quirky styling and versatile rear hatch give it both personality and functionality, while its interior is surprisingly roomy. 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 Rockford Fosgate audio upgrade.

What's New for 2018?

For 2018, the Versa Note SR gains standard Intelligent Key with push-button start, a vehicle engine immobilizer and Nissan's Easy Fill Tire Alert. These features are added to the SV Special Edition package, which replaces last year's SV Appearance package. The SL trim is dropped this year, while the S Plus is rebadged simply as S.

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; with the loss of the SL trim went heated side mirrors and navigation

How Much?

$16,365-$20,500

Fuel Economy

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 2018 Versa Note comes as a 5-door hatchback in three trims: S, SV and SR.

The S ($16,365) 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 are cruise control and an active grille shutter that reportedly improves fuel economy. Power windows and locks are still not available, however. S Plus options are similar to those on the base S model.

The SV ($17,265) 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), cruise control, 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 ($18,865) adds suede seat accents, variable intermittent front wipers, Intelligent Key with push-button start, Easy Fill Tire Alert, a vehicle engine immobilizer, 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 SV Special Edition package adds Intelligent Key, push-button start, 15-in alloy wheels, fog lights and variable wipers.

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.

Safety

The Versa Note comes standard with an antilock braking system, stability control and six airbags (front, front side and full-length side curtain).

The 2018 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 2018 Nissan Versa Note welcomes you with straightforward controls and good visibility all around. The steering wheel doesn't telescope out, though, which is a potential deal breaker for long-legged drivers. Although the presence of manual windows and locks (S 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. The 5.0-in color infotainment display really dresses 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

2018 Chevrolet Sonic -- The Sonic has a tiny back seat compared to the Versa Note's, but it's more rewarding to drive, especially with the optional turbocharged engine.

2018 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.

2018 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.

Used Hyundai Elantra -- A 2013-2016 Hyundai Elantra offers more power, more room, more options and, if you purchase through a certified pre-owned program, a much better warranty.

Autotrader's Advice

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.

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New 2018 Nissan Versa Note S
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New 2018 Nissan Versa Note S
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2018 Nissan Versa Note: New Car Review - Autotrader