By KBB.com Editors
A battered economy and yo-yoing gas prices have led to a comeback in entry-level compact cars, and the 2010 Nissan Versa is perfectly positioned to take full advantage of the situation. "For the first time in many years," said a Nissan senior marketing manager, many shoppers are "giving serious consideration" to smaller automobiles. These marketing folks detect a "void" in the sub-$14,000 price range, noting that a new generation of young people, known as "echo boomers," will reach driving age soon. Billed as a "no-compromise" value-priced offering that reaches beyond basic amenities, the Versa offers class-leading horsepower and torque, along with a host of unique features and generous interior space.You'll Like This Car If...
The 2010 Nissan Versa leads the small-car pack in spaciousness, which is worth considering if you carry passengers in the back seat. Standing tall in both dimensions and refinement, it may also tempt those who appreciate the smoothness of a CVT, which promises 34 miles per gallon on the highway (according to EPA fuel-economy estimates).You May Not Like This Car If...
Nissan's Versa might not satisfy you if you need to fit three full-size occupants into the rear, but that's common for entry-level compacts. If you like anti-lock braking but don't want to pay extra for it, it's an option on the base Versa Sedan, not standard equipment.What's New for 2010
For 2010, the Versa gets a slight freshening, sporting a new grille, new seat fabric, new wheel options and a white illuminated meter cluster. The SL trim gains an iPod interface, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and traction control, as well as last year's Sport Package as standard equipment. New options for the SL include a cool navigation system retailing for around $600 that includes XM NavTraffic real-time traffic alerts.Driving It Driving Impressions
When equipped, Nissan's Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is as smooth as they come. Almost no engine noise is noticeable in ordinary driving and you hear only a tolerable light snarl during hard acceleration. The Versa's acceleration rivals that of competitors with conventional automatics, although, like most small cars, it's not particularly quick going up hills. Reacting capably on curvy roads, it feels quite confident in the corners and exhibits good stability on expressways. Although the well-controlled ride is pleasant on good surfaces, on rougher roads the occupants may feel a lot of surface imperfections, but few will be particularly troubling. The instrument panel has deep-set gauges that are easy to read.Favorite Features
Affordable Navigation System
Costing just a bit more than a really good portable navigation device, Nissan's new navigation radio offers the added benefit of XM Satellite Radio and real-time traffic updates. The controls are easy to understand and operate and the 5-inch color screen provides large, legible directions; it's also an unlikely target for smash and grab thieves.
Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT):
Nissan has been a leader in CVT installations, which substitute a belt and twin variable-diameter pulleys for the usual gears. The result is exceptionally smooth, linear and rewarding operation – once the driver gets accustomed to the fact that no gear changes will be taking place.