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2019 Nissan Versa Note: New Car Review

If you’re looking for a low-priced small car that delivers great gas mileage and the latest infotainment options, check out the 2019 Nissan Versa Note. With its quirky styling and versatile hatchback design, the Versa Note offers more personality than the larger Versa sedan, yet its roomy interior is so big that four 6-footers can 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, high-end Versa Note models are packed with cool items, including the innovative Divide-N-Hide cargo bay and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

What’s New for 2019?

Midway through 2018, Nissan upgraded the Versa Note with a 7-in color touchscreen audio system and rearview camera. For 2019, NissanConnect with SiriusXM, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is made standard on the SV Special Edition and SR trims.

What We Like

An enormous back seat; good fuel economy with the continuously variable transmission (CVT); attractive styling; low base price; versatile Divide-N-Hide cargo area; available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

What We Don’t

Steering wheel doesn’t telescope; sparsely equipped interior on cheaper models; so-so crash-test results; no heated side mirrors or navigation option; no driver-assist systems

How Much?

$16,545-$20,000

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, 39 mpg on the highway and 34 mpg in combined driving.

Options & Standard Features

The 2019 Versa Note comes as a 5-door hatchback in three trims: S, SV and SR.

The S ($16,545) 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, a 7-in touchscreen audio system with Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free and an auxiliary input jack are standard, as are a rearview monitor and an active grille shutter that reportedly improves fuel economy.

The SV ($17,445) adds power windows and locks, as well as keyless entry, upgraded interior cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver’s seat with an armrest, cruise control, a USB/iPod input, Divide-N-Hide storage, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and bright interior accents.

The SR ($19,255) adds suede seat accents, variable intermittent front wipers, Intelligent Key with push-button start, Easy Fill Tire Alert, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM, a vehicle engine immobilizer, a rear-seat armrest with cup holders, SR badges, 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, variable wipers, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and SiriusXM.

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 2019 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 2019 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 on the base S trim is a bit of a shock, we can’t fault the comprehensively equipped higher trim levels. Material quality is unremarkable by segment standards, but the panels in our test car seemed to be screwed together reasonably well. The 7-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

2019 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.

2019 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.

2019 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. The Fit also offers Honda Sensing driver assist systems.

Used Hyundai Elantra — A 2013-2017 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 under $17,500, it’s a good value, and it has all the power and entertainment accessories expected in a modern vehicle.

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