2016 Nissan Versa Note Review
2016 Nissan Versa Note Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- 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.
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.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2016 Nissan Versa Note 1.6 S 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 5M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.11 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$125/mo for Versa Note 1.6 S
Versa Note 1.6 S
Avg. Compact Car
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.
Performance & mpg
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.
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.
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.
2016 Nissan Versa Note models
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.
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
Fun to drive, great mileage
David Allin, 08/05/2016
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 forward 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. UPDATE: After owning and driving the car for ten months, my previous praise still stands. I'm averaging 31-39 mpg, depending on type of driving, and have had absolutely no problems with the car. I have learned how to modulate the accelerator to achieve better acceleration; a steady, firm but moderate pressure on the gas pedal allows the CVT to spool up properly and bring the car to speed quickly. You can't accelerate by the sound of the engine or the sweep of the tach like most cars; instead you just watch the speedometer and let the CVT figure out how to best move the car forward. Driving this way has made me far less aware of the limited power of the engine. I always enjoy driving the car, and it really scoots around town, while cruising comfortably on the highway. It's a fun car, but also practical and totally reliable.
5 out of 5 stars
still happy buyer
2015 Nissan Versa Note 1.6 SV 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl CVT)
June 2018 update. This car after 22,000 miles give or take, is still the best small car I have ever driven. Since I have been driving for 58 years, I have owned and driven many small cars, many, many, thousands of miles. This is the best. Drives like a feather, good ride and comfort, not noisy, great 40+ OA mpg's and no probs. yet. Does well on long trips, and … shorter jaunts too. How can you not love it? Oh, by the way, it's enormous inside--esp. in the back seat. If buying, get the 15" (that's "fifteen inch") alloy wheels: lighter, less expensive to replace tires, better ride, and look good. All the Best. June 2017 update: I grant that mileage driven on this car (purchased in 2014) is still quite low and that I am a conservative driver, but this car continues to impress. I am starting to resent the reviews of this vehicle in the leading consumer magazine to which I subscribe. They rate this car lower car than the Honda Fit and even the Chevy Sonic (!) but then say that the Fit is "unfit" for long trips and are below average in the "ride/noise" category. Also the Fit's rated reliability is lower than the Note's. As for the Sonic: the back seat is cramped, and the trunk with the seat backs put up, is like a shoebox; mpg's are considerably worse than the Note's and the Sonic's steering is described as "darty". So, for these and other reasons, the Note should be rated higher than the Fit and the Soncic--not lower! Add that steering is a joy, comfort is good, back seat is enormous, and great for trips because of, in part, relatively good "ride/noise". Another point: sales figures of Nissan Versa's (sedans and Notes) FAR outstrip the Fit and the Sonic (ref. www.subcompactculture.com blog). So where does CR come up with their opinions? (My take is that they don't much care for Nissans generally.) Original review: Purchased this SV Note in May 2014 and have over 5,000 miles on it. Went to Mobil 1 low friction oil (0W30) at 3500 miles and increased already excellent mileage by at least 1 mpg, so recommend. Car drives great, handles like a dream and is--for class--quiet from road and engine noise, and has a nice ride. Pump to pump mileage checks show consistently over 40 mpg in warm weather and this includes a wide variety of conditions (including hilly and mountainous) with usually two people aboard. Car looks good to my eye with upright stance (as compared to the Fit, for example.) So, looks good, rides and handles great with outstanding mileage and is enormous inside. Recommend. June 2016 addition to original review: Like this car more than ever. Great room inside, quiet and comfortable for class. Very good for long trips on highways as well as local driving. Excellent ingress and egress (wife and I are in 70's.) MPG's are outstanding. Very mixed driving and 40+ mpg's easily attainable in warm months. (We live in northeast). High/low range: 43 -- 36 depending on time of season. (Petroleum companies change their formulations in the cold months/areas of country so, partially as a result, cold weather driving drives mpg's down--a little known fact perhaps.) We have come to like the CVT; would not likely return to a conventional automatic tranny in any future car. Would buy this car again. Tips: reco the 15" (not 16") alloy wheels. There are a number of good reasons for this which won't go into here (except to say, e.g. looks, comfort, strength, mileage, cost, and so forth. Also recommend low friction oil such as Mobil l 0W30. My mpg's improved at least by 1 with this oil. Finally, please note that this car is now rated highest in category for reliability by CR. A winner! Dec. 2017 update: Not much to say differently from previous reviews and updates. Car still impresses. Mileage now c. 20,300. Reliability is still very good; ride and noise factors very good; car handles so beautifully it is a snap to toot around on secondary roads and in towns. But, as previously mentioned, a big plus of this car over others in it's class is that it is good on longer trips. In a word, very good on the highways over a length of time. I drove my son's 2007 Honda Fit Sport around recently (secondary and highway roads) and it is a fine little car esp. if you drive in a very spirited fashion. I confess, being older, to driving very conservatively, but not when I was younger so I can appreciate a snappy small car. But I would give the Versa NOTE a noticeable comfort edge esp. on highways and say that it is ideal for older folks--also because ingress and egress are outstanding. Perhaps the newer Fit is different. Anyway, this is the best small car I have ever driven, and I have driven small cars (owned 6, and rented many) for c. 57 years. I think I know something about small cars!. Highly recommend the NOTE.
5 out of 5 stars
TURN THE HEADRESTS AROUND!! LOVE MY CAR!
Diane D, 02/11/2018
2015 Nissan Versa Note 1.6 SV 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl CVT)
I didn't notice the small pocket glove compartment for a month! I didn't want to wait til I could find a manual with cruise (a MUST HAVE for me) so I took the CVT and I hope I don't regret it. I've seen a few complaints about the headrest. I felt like I was leaning over so I removed the head rest and turned it around, viola! Much better than not having one (headrest). As for accelerating … on a short ramp, PUT YOUR FOOT ON THE GAS firmly (slowly apply pressure) before you hit the ramp! Or, try putting it in low, firm push on the pedal and that'll do it (put it back in drive too!). I haven't had ANY problem with it but it IS a 4 cyl. You've got to .get a "feel" for the CVT (not really a big fan, I'd rather have a traditional tranny). Folks, this is a low price (plenty of deals) and 4 cyl with 109 hp engine so don't expect a Maxima! In my opinion, WAY better than the Fiesta and Mirage (ugh, awful). So far, no issues with the window issues I've read about - guess I'll leave a towel in the car. Smile every time I get in and out, which is a breeze !! I had a 2001 Corolla for a short while and felt like a Big Foot climbing out (I'm 5'8") of that car.
4 out of 5 stars
2015 Nissan Versa Note 1.6 SR 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl CVT)
I was looking for an economical hatchback to perform chores around town--transporting the dog, carrying bulky items from Home Depot, etc. My first thought was the Honda Fit, but only the top trim level offered the option of in-dash navigation, and it came with leather upholstery, heated seats and other features that I didn't care about. Then I read a comparison article which included … the Versa Note and checked it out. Less expensive than the Fit and navigation was available on a lower level trim, the SR. After test driving and shopping several Nissan dealerships, I found just the car I wanted. I've only got 500 miles on it, but I am very pleased so far. I like the looks of this car. The SR comes with sportier alloy wheels, turn signals on the exterior mirrors, a roof spoiler and fog lights. The upright stance means there is a ton of headroom, even for a 6 foot plus person like me. Its tiny engine seems spunky enough to me, as I generally accelerate quickly enough from stoplights. Noise in the cabin is moderate--probably normal for this class of cars. It is quite roomy inside--particularly legroom in the backseat. And I was pleasantly surprised by some of the features , such as automatic door locking, auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, a rear center armrest, and trip computer in the instrument panel. The optional navigation screen is smaller than in most cars, but the system works fine and even offers a "birds-eye view". Aspects of the car that are less than satisfying are: 1. no center armrest for the front passenger 2. the door armrests are uncomfortable hard plastic 3. the rear headrests are positioned at a strange and uncomfortable angle 4. the driver's seat is lumpy and would not be comfortable for long-range driving (which I don't intend for this car anyway) 5. strangely, there is no temperature gauge in the instrument cluster for the SR trim only
We have a limited number of reviews for the 2016 Nissan Versa Note, so we've included reviews for other years of the Versa Note since its last redesign.
2016 Versa Note Highlights
|Combined MPG||30 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$125/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
NHTSA Overall Rating4 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall3 / 5Driver4 / 5Passenger2 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover14.7%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestNot Tested
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestNot Tested
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintNot Tested