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Nissan versa note review consumer reports



Edmunds Summary Review of the 2016 Nissan Versa Note Hatchback

The 2016 Nissan Versa Note trails rivals in refinement and performance. But it could be worth a look for shoppers who prioritize low price, roominess and strong fuel economy.

Roomy interior with an adult-friendly backseat; low base price; large cargo capacity; high fuel economy with CVT.

Bland performance and handling; noisy engine; no telescoping steering wheel; low-quality interior materials.

For 2016, the midgrade SV trim now comes standard with a 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment bundle that includes Bluetooth audio, mobile-app integration, satellite radio preparation and a rearview camera, as well as the Divide-n-Hide adjustable rear cargo system.

For 2016, the midgrade SV trim now comes standard with a 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment bundle that includes Bluetooth audio, mobile-app integration, satellite radio preparation and a rearview camera, as well as the Divide-n-Hide adjustable rear cargo system.

If you're shopping for a practical subcompact hatchback on a tight budget, the 2016 Nissan Versa Note is one to look at. Perhaps best known for its affordable pricing, the Versa Note also boasts high fuel economy and a roomy interior with an exceptionally spacious backseat. Starting with the midlevel SV trim this year, Nissan includes a standard touchscreen infotainment system and even a nifty adjustable cargo floor that can be raised or lowered to accommodate various items. Indeed, despite that low cost of entry, this Nissan's got a lot going on.

Because it's a hatchback, the 2016 Nissan Versa Note is more versatile than the regular Versa sedan.

On the other hand, the Versa Note's interior styling is rather bland and features large swaths of hard plastics that cheapen the overall effect, especially when compared to most rivals. And while the car's 1.6-liter engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT) earned an impressive 40 mpg highway rating from the EPA, this tandem's performance is distinctly underwhelming when you're trying to get up to speed in a hurry. Furthermore, although the Versa's suspension delivers decent ride comfort, handling is rather indifferent. From a driving standpoint, other competitors in this segment are simply more rewarding in many respects.

Topping that list is the recently redesigned 2016 Honda Fit. which is pretty fun to drive and is unmatched for its cargo room versatility. Then there's the 2016 Ford Fiesta. which bring European-style sophistication to the table, albeit with very modest backseat and cargo dimensions. The 2016 Chevrolet Sonic and 2016 Hyundai Accent both offer sprightlier acceleration while still achieving wholly respectable fuel economy numbers. Overall, the 2016 Nissan Versa Note remains an affordable subcompact with a strong practical streak, but it struggles to stand out in this competitive field.

The 2016 Nissan Versa Note is a five-passenger, four-door hatchback offered in five trim levels: S, S Plus, SV, SR and SL. A four-door sedan version of the Versa also is available and is covered in a separate model review.

Standard features for the base S trim include 15-inch steel wheels, chrome grille accents, power mirrors, manual windows and locks, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-only steering wheel with auxiliary controls, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio input jack.

It's worth noting that the 2016 Versa S trim is available only with a five-speed manual transmission. Stepping up to the S Plus trim gets you active grille shutters and a CVT for increased fuel economy.

The SV trim adds remote keyless entry, illuminated entry, upgraded cloth upholstery and interior trim, a height-adjustable driver seat with an armrest, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power windows and door locks, cruise control, vanity mirrors, the Divide-n-Hide adjustable cargo floor, a rearview camera and the Nissan Connect infotainment system with a 5.0-inch color touchscreen, satellite radio preparation, Bluetooth streaming audio, a USB port with iPod control, hands-free text messaging and mobile-app integration.

Alloy wheels come standard on the SR and SL trim levels.

The sport-themed SR trim gets 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, unique front and rear fascias, a sport body kit with a rear spoiler, side mirrors with integrated turn signals, synthetic suede upholstery with orange accents, a rear-seat center armrest with cupholders and a sport steering wheel.

The top-of-the-line SL keeps the 16-inch alloys and foglights, and it adds heated mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, a surround-view parking camera system and a larger 5.8-inch NissanConnect touchscreen with navigation (including voice controls).

A Tech package for the SR adds the larger touchscreen with the navigation system. The SV is eligible for a few additional add-ons, including an Appearance package (15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, variable intermittent wipers), a Sport Value package (15-inch alloys plus a rear spoiler) and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Powering the front-wheel-drive 2016 Nissan Versa Note is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque. The entry-level S model is only available with a five-speed manual transmission, while higher trims receive a CVT.

EPA fuel economy estimates for the manual-shift Versa Note are 30 mpg combined (27 city/36 highway). The CVT version is rated at an impressive 35 mpg combined (31/40), but on the diverse 120-mile Edmunds real-world evaluation loop, we only achieved 32 mpg. Typically, we expect to see at least the combined number.

In Edmunds performance testing, a Versa Note with the CVT went from zero to 60 in 10.4 seconds, trailing the class-leading Honda Fit by a sobering 1.6 seconds.

Standard safety features for all 2016 Nissan Versa Note models include antilock brakes (front discs and rear drums), front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and traction and stability control. A rearview camera is standard on the SV, SR and SL.

In Edmunds brake testing, the Note came to a stop from 60 mph in 125 feet, which is about 3 feet longer than average for a car in this class.

Compared to its rather expressive exterior, the cabin of the 2016 Nissan Versa Note is a bit of a letdown because of ho-hum dashboard styling and an abundance of hard plastics. Moreover, the tilt-only steering wheel and the lack of a height-adjustable driver seat on S and S Plus trim levels makes it difficult to find a comfortable driving position.

The Versa Note's interior design is rather forgettable, but the backseat is exceptionally spacious.

While the standard touchscreen functionality from the SV trim on up is a definite plus, this interior's real strong suit is its spaciousness. In particular, the backseat provides enough head- and legroom for 6-footers, putting many subcompact hatchbacks to shame. Cargo space is less impressive, measuring 18.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 38.3 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded down. However, the available "Divide-n-Hide" adjustable cargo area floor is a cool enhancement on SV, SR and SL models, allowing for thinner objects (think purses and briefcases) to be stored out of sight while still providing room for larger objects up top.

On the road, the 2016 Nissan Versa Note drives like the affordable subcompact it is. The little 1.6-liter engine produces acceleration that's adequate at best. Coupled to the CVT, it's smooth in everyday driving but can rev noisily under hard acceleration.

While not a complete snooze to drive, the 2016 Versa Note is less engaging from behind the wheel than the rival Honda Fit, for example.

Things settle down once you're up to speed, but wind and tire noise are constant companions. The Versa Note's comfort-tuned suspension offers a generally supple ride, though big bumps get transmitted directly to the cabin with little absorption. Handling is secure but far from inspiring, and the vague steering provides little feedback.

by Erik on Aug 20, 2016
Vehicle: 2016 Nissan Versa Note 1.6 SV 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl CVT)

Forgive the wall, I'm on mobilegot this as a rental, it looked cool and I wanted to try it. It had just over 2k milkes and I put 350 miles on it. Did a bit of city ( vegas!!) freeway and some "mountain" driving. Let's point out the Pros of this. The blue tooth is simple and easy, and you can take it a step further by downloading an app. But I just used Google maps, which only works if you have the stereo on Bluetooth mode) Its great for parking, tight turns, great for those u turns, braking, and decent fuel economy. The steering response is middle of the road, maybe a bit above because the car doesn't roll if you have to jerk it over to the next lane. It does have a back up camera and you can see all around when in traffic. I didn't get a chance to see how well The traction control worked. The A/C did okay for 110F heat and no window tint. Meaning it was on full blast 95%, even when it was under 100F. The audio system sounded better then I imagined! Weaving in and out of traffic is a breeze, and you'll have plenty of room. Its not the ugliest or boring for a compact. There was plenty of room for just the two of us. The dash is nice to look at and the double glove box was very convenient. Heck the knee one was very deep. Seating was firm but comfy. Combine the seating and suspension for a sporty feel. Now the cons; even if you are at the front of the line at a stop light, you'll be last. Not only is take off unnaturally slow, the actual throttle response is about a whole second behind. Then after that you'll start to crawl forward ( no need to worry about burn outs!) This can actually be annoying because if traffic speeds up a tad while rolling down the road it'll be a few before you'll catch up. It was amazing that it could go 70mph ( okay there were times we may have went 85mph but we were just keeping with the flow. And the ride was challenging due to the swaying. Well get to that later) Imagine you are getting on the freeway, you hit the Apex and pin the throttle, the rpms jump up and as need to start merging, desperately, you look down and realize you are only doing 55-60mph, pending if the hill was in your favor. Okay you get it, accerleration is not what this car is meant to do. But you may think this can hold its speed. I mean come on, it's modern, it has a CVT, and it's small! Well sure it can. But only if it's minor. If you start climbing a little it'll rev up. And if it's a 6% grade, you might want to take the slow lane with the truckers. So how does it handle? Well on a flat road it's perfect, that goes for the pavement. If it's concrete with slits you'll start swerving like a tractor trailer with high cross winds, sad part is it's only a slight over exaggeration. At around 50mph it becomes noticeable. Maybe it's a safetly feature to keep you paying attention! I too thought maybe someone hit something. But seeing another versa I had to follow and see if they did the dance, and they did. With all the negative I wrote, I really do not hate this car! Sure it's gutless, the road surface can be a challenge, and the suspension is borderline cheap feeling, but it was fun! The only way I would own this was if I got it with 6sp and 30 more ponies. ( I do kick my self for not getting the fiat 500!)

by David Allin on Aug 5, 2016
Vehicle: 2016 Nissan Versa Note 1.6 SL 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl CVT)

First, the Versa Note is almost totally unrelated to the other Versa models. It's a different platform that is more solid and much better looking. When you close the doors, you hear a nice muffled 'thunk', not the tinny clank of most economy cars. The whole car feels very tight, and is extremely quiet inside, with no squeaks or rattles and little tire and wind noise. The interior is simple, but the materials all feel sturdy and look attractive, which is standard for Nissans. I traded in a 2005 Sentra with 108K miles, and the cloth interior of that car still looked just like new. The Note's interior is very spacious, especially for such a small car, with plenty of leg room in the back seats for two adults. The cargo area is adequate, with a floor that can be positioned at two heights, and the rear seatbacks fold down almost flat. Unlike most cars these days, the rear side windows roll all the way down and out of sight in the doors. The car handles extremely well, and stops on a dime. In order to make it good great mileage, however, Nissan put a very small engine in it, combined with a CVT transmission that is programmed to save gas. As a result the car is not a pocket rocket, although the acceleration is adequate. Going up Nine-Mile hill at 75mph with the AC on is a strain, but otherwise the car can keep up with traffic pretty well. I've found that a gentle pressure on the gas pedal will actually result in better acceleration than pushing it to the floor. Still, we use our Murano for long trips, and the Note in town, where it scoots around happily. There's an old sports car saying that it's more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow, and it applies here. I bought the SL, with all the bells and whistles, and for the most part they are worth the extra cost. The satellite radio is great, and the car's sound system is better than the one in my Murano. One of the main features we were looking for was visibility, and in addition to the great arrangement of windows, the SL has the around-view monitor, with cameras on all sides that produce a picture on the center screen of a birds-eye view of the car when backing up. The cameras can also be turned on when pulling into a parking space. The navigation systems is okay, but not as good as my Garmin, and clearly has not been updated for at least four years. The Sirius Travel Link is a nice feature, giving you the prices of gas at nearby stations, movie listings in the area, stock prices, and weather info. It also provides you real-time traffic alerts. All of these can be accessed using voice commands that work fairly well. Instrumentation is limited to tach, speedo, and gas gauge; all other systems are just warning lights. The HVAC is the same one that was in my 2005 Sentra, but it works well. Judging by our experience with previous Nissans over the last 20 years, we expect this car to be trouble-free for as long as we own it. Yes, I wish it had a little more power, but we love the car anyway.