2017 Nissan Versa Note

2017 Nissan Versa Note Review

Compared to other hatchbacks, the Versa Note is noticeably out of tune.
3.0 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Mark Takahashi
Edmunds Editor

There was a time when the Versa Note would have been considered an admirable hatchback for shoppers on a tight budget. Recently, however, even this humble vehicle class has experienced significant gains in quality, feature content and performance, but the Versa has somehow missed this renaissance.

Compared to competing hatchbacks, the Versa Note is slow, not particularly engaging to drive and lacking in refinement. To its credit, it does offer a lot of rear passenger space and a clever cargo system, but these are not enough to warrant a strong recommendation. We suggest checking out the alternatives before settling on the Versa Note.



what's new

For 2017, the Versa Note receives a styling update to bring it in line with other Nissan vehicles. The previous base S trim with a manual transmission has been discontinued. Other changes include larger cupholders, a relocation of the USB port and 12-volt outlets, and the addition of a second 12-volt outlet on some trims.

we recommend

The base S Plus trim is far too bare-bones even for the price, with hand-cranked windows and an actual key to open and start the car. We recommend stepping up to the SV trim so you won't feel like you got stuck with the last car at a rental counter.

Stepping up to higher trims yields diminishing returns, particularly if you're in the majority who own a smartphone. Free apps for navigation and entertainment are a fine substitute for the factory options and features.

trim levels & features

The 2017 Nissan Versa Note hatchback seats five and is offered in four trim levels: S Plus, SV, SR and SL. It's powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine (109 horsepower, 107 pound-feet of torque), routed through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) on the way to the front wheels.

Standard feature highlights for the base S Plus trim include 15-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, a tilt-only steering wheel, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone integration and a four-speaker CD player with auxiliary audio input.

The SV trim adds remote keyless entry, cruise control, power windows, upgraded gauges, additional interior trim, upgraded cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat with an armrest, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an adjustable cargo floor, a 5-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera, Bluetooth streaming audio, USB-iPod audio input, satellite radio and a hands-free text messaging assistant.

Stepping up to the SR trim adds sporty exterior treatments, 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, a rear spoiler, keyless ignition, Nissan's Easy-Fill Tire Alert system that beeps when the correct pressure has been reached, a sport steering wheel, faux suede upholstery and a center rear armrest. At the top of the Versa Note range, the SL trim is enhanced with a 5.8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system with real-time traffic, a suite of mobile apps, a 360-degree camera system and heated front seats.

Some features are available on supporting trims as options.

trim tested

2014 Nissan Versa Note SV Hatchback (1.6L inline-4 | CVT automatic | FWD)

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.0 / 5.0

Driving

2.5 / 5.0

Acceleration2.5 / 5.0
Braking2.5 / 5.0
Steering1.0 / 5.0
Handling2.5 / 5.0
Drivability3.0 / 5.0

Comfort

2.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort2.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort2.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration2.5 / 5.0

Interior

3.0 / 5.0

Ease of use2.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5.0
Driving position2.0 / 5.0
Roominess3.0 / 5.0
Visibility3.0 / 5.0
Quality3.0 / 5.0

Utility

3.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage2.5 / 5.0
Cargo space3.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
With a meager 109-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, nontraditional transmission and uninspiring handling, the Versa Note offers little in terms of performance. This is strictly a point A to point B car with minimal entertainment in between.

acceleration

edmunds rating
It took us a very long 10.4 seconds to reach 60 mph, which is slow even for an economy hatchback. The SV model's continuously variable transmission (CVT) causes the engine to drone loudly when accelerating, making it feel even weaker.

braking

edmunds rating
The pedal is uncharacteristically firm and quick to respond for this class. Still, in Edmunds testing the Versa Note required 125 feet to stop from 60 mph, slightly longer than average.

steering

edmunds rating
Perhaps the worst part of this car, the Versa's fuel-saving electric-assist power steering offers artificial, springy feedback and lackluster response. The result is a very vague feeling through the wheel that doesn't inspire confidence.

handling

edmunds rating
Despite the lack of feedback through the steering wheel, the Versa Note handles reasonably well around corners and over big bumps in the pavement. That said, it's rarely fun, just competent.

drivability

edmunds rating
In spite of its tepid performance, the Versa Note is an adequate day-to-day driver. Its small size makes it a good grocery-getter and an easy parker. The high-winding CVT can be annoying, though.

comfort

edmunds rating
The Versa Note is plagued by below-average seat comfort, a jittery ride and plenty of wind, road and engine noise. These are low scores even for the economy hatchback class.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
A rare instance in which the rear seats offer more room and comfort than the front seats. The lumpy buckets offer decent adjustment but little lateral support.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
Ride comfort is typical for a small car, which means it feels busy over bumps and is negatively affected by crosswinds. Other choices in the segment do a better job.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
Wind, tire and engine noise is evident most of the time and will prove excessive for some. Under acceleration, the engine emits a loud cow-like groan until you lift off the pedal.

interior

edmunds rating
A few clever and unexpected measures offset the usual subcompact interior qualities and drawbacks. The Versa Note SV's materials are notably better than those on the lower trim levels, but they're not much better than average for the segment.

ease of use

edmunds rating
Taller drivers will find the cabin controls a bit hard to reach. The driving position, armrests and placement of window switches all feel out of place.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
Entry and exit is easy from any seat. As an added bonus, the rear doors open almost to 90 degrees for unusually good access when space allows for it.

driving position

edmunds rating
The lack of a telescoping steering column means that slightly taller-than-average drivers will either have to sit uncomfortably close or have an awkward reach to the steering wheel.

roominess

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The rear seat room is excellent, particularly when it comes to legroom. The cabin feels open and airy for such a small car.

visibility

edmunds rating
We found the sight lines above average for a hatchback, with no blind spots. The optional rearview and the 360-degree camera system are unusual for this segment and somewhat unnecessary unless it's loaded to the ceiling with cargo.

quality

edmunds rating
The overall build quality of the Versa Note may meet some lower expectations, but among rivals it's noticeably downmarket. Even higher-trimmed Versa Notes will remind you that you're in an economy car.

utility

edmunds rating
Cargo space is about average for the class behind the rear seats but small when it comes to maximum capacity. The rear seats do fold flat, and the adjustable cargo floor could prove useful in some cases.

small-item storage

edmunds rating
Storage for your personal items is limited to a few small door pockets and cupholders. Rivals offer larger and more intelligent solutions.

cargo space

edmunds rating
The Versa Note's 18.8-cubic-foot cargo space behind the rear seats and maximum 38.3-cubic-foot capacity isn't impressive, but Nissan's Divide-N-Hide cargo floor allows you to store flat items (purses, laptops, briefcases) out of sight while providing a larger space on top.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.