Versa Versus Versa: The 2020 Nissan Versa SR

Front 3/4 view of 2020 Nissan Versa SR
The 2020 Nissan Versa SR.
It is hard to think of a more maligned car (apart from the Mitsubishi Mirage) than the Nissan Versa.  Mention its name among automotive journalists and you'll get a lot of derisive laughter.  As I wrote eight years ago this very month, in my review of the 2012 Versa, they're wrong.  It's a good, if basic, car.

Rear 3/4 view of 2020 Nissan Versa SR

A lot can change in eight years.  The "Mrs. TireKicker" referred to in the 2012 review is now an ex, and when I began life with the new Mrs.TireKicker in late 2013, I found that her ex-husband, shortly before his departure, had bought her a 2013 Versa.

Rear 3/4 views of 2020 and 2013 Nissan Versa

Front 3/4 view of 2013 and 2020 Nissan Versa

And so I came to have two silver Versas side-by-side in my driveway (the 2020's color is called "Gun Metallic").

In 2013, the SL was the top-of-the-line Versa.  Power windows, remote keyless entry, pushbutton start, a CD player, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, a backup camera and navigation. 109 horsepower from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with a Continuously Variable Transmission.  MSRP was $16,980.

For 2020, the SR is the top-of-the-line. Apart from the styling, changes include a bunch of active safety features not even available in 2013, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, lane departure warning and high beam assist.

Hood open on 2020 Nissan Versa SR

Engine in 2020 Nissan Versa SR

It's 1.6 inches longer and 1.8 inches wider than the previous generation and makes 11 horsepower more (120) from the same 1.6-liter four with a CVT.

Rear seat in 2020 Nissan Versa SR

Instrument panel in 2020 Nissan Versa

Interior accommodations are brought up to date, with more upscale-looking materials and a more modern instrument panel with a larger infotainment screen.

The base price for the 2020 Nissan Versa SR is $18,240, and apart from what we've already discussed above, here's what comes standard at that price:

  • Hill start assist
  • Blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert
  • Rear view monitor
  • Anti-lock braking
  • Vehicle dynamic control system
  • Traction control system
  • Tire pressure monitoring system with Easy-Fill tire alert
  • Nissan vehicle immobilizer system
  • Intelligent driver alertness
  • Rear door alert
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
  • Illuminated steering wheel controls and voice recognition
  • Instrument panel finisher with Prima-Tex and stitching
  • Nissan Intelligent Key
  • Automatic climate control
  • Chrome parking brake button
  • Power windows with driver's side one-touch
  • Power door locks with speed sensing auto-lock
  • Cruise control
  • Manual tilt/telescoping steering wheel
  • Manual rearview mirror
  • Flat blade intermittent windshield wipers with mist cycle
  • Rear window defroster with timer
  • Remote engine start
  • Pushbutton start
  • Chrome interior door handles
  • Shift knob with silver accents
  • Driver seat mounted armrest
  • Six-way manually adjustable driver's seat
  • SR seat fabric with interior trim and accents
  • 60/40 split rear seat
  • Seven-inch color display audio system with Bluetooth, hands-free text messaging assistant, Siri EyesFree and Google Assistant voice recognition
  • NissanConnect featuring Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
  • A seven-inch Advanced Drive-Assist display
  • Six-speaker AM./FM/mp3 audio system with AUX and three USB ports (two of which are charging ports only)
  • 12-volt power outlet
  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • LED low and high beam headlamps with LED signature lamp
  • V-shape dark chrome grille
  • Fog lights
  • Auto on/off headlamps with delay and welcome function
  • Black painted heated exterior mirrors with integrated turn signal
  • Body-color exterior door handles
  • Temporary spare tire
  • Body-colored trunk lid spoiler
  • SR grade emblem
Gauge cluster in 2020 Nissan Versa SR

Infotainment and HVAC in 2020 Nissan Versa SR

Our tester also had some extra-cost options:

  • Convenience Package (heated front seats, intelligent cruise control): $300
  • Carpeted floor mats and trunk mat: $210
  • Center arm rest with storage: $300
  • Electronics Package (map pocket light, illuminated kick plates, frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror with universal remote): $855
  • Lighting Package (external ground lighting, interior ambient lighting): $690
Front view of 2020 Nissan Versa SR

Rear view of 2020 Nissan Versa SR

With $895 destination charges, the bottom line on the window sticker reads $21,490.  Very reasonable.  My wife's was a shade over $19,000 seven years ago.  So how do they compare?

Rear view of 2020 and 2013 Nissan Versa

For all the changes, they're surprisingly similar---and yet, not.  The 2020 is better-looking inside and out.  The additional eleven horsepower is lost to added weight.  If anything, the new one seems slower than my wife's '13.

And my wife's 2013 gets 44 miles per gallon around town (about the only place it's ever driven---in seven years of ownership, it has 47,000 miles on the clock).  The new one's EPA fuel economy estimate is 32 city/40 highway.

Ultimately, though, that comparison doesn't mean much.  The 2020 Versa has to compare favorably with other model year 2020 subcompact sedans.  As before, it's better than most reviews will suggest it is.  And it remains one of the lowest-priced cars in its class.