The 2019 Nissan Versa Note is among the most affordable vehicles sold in America, even though it's not the most appealing. Those primarily concerned with saving money and simply getting from point A to point B will appreciate its comfortable ride quality and frugal fuel economy. The handsome hatchback also looks much better than the bland Nissan Versa sedan. So there's that. Although the Versa Note is a verified bargain, so are competitors that have more desirable features and better quality. The Nissan's slow-poke engine and poor handling don't improve its case, either. Still, it will satisfy value-minded people who merely want to spend as little as possible on transportation. The 2019 model year will be the Versa Note's last as the next generation Versa will be offered solely as a sedan.
What's New for 2019?
The 2019 Versa Note is essentially a carryover model. However, the big news is that the SV and SR models are now available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the first time ever.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Those dead set on the 2019 Versa Note shouldn't punish themselves with the base model, since another $900 buys the mid-level SV. It adds basic new-car niceties such as air conditioning, cruise control, remote keyless entry, and power windows and door locks. The SV also includes an adjustable load floor in the cargo area for extra versatility. We'd add the SV Special Addition package that features fog lights, push-button start, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Likes: Comfortable ride on most surfaces.
Dislikes: Slower than already slow rivals, transmission can make the engine noisy, sloppy driving responses.
Every Versa Note is front-wheel drive and features a 109-hp four-cylinder engine that pairs with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Unfortunately, the CVT often elicits continuous noise during hard acceleration. This combined with the Versa Note's underpowered engine make for a lethargic and unrefined experience. Still, the hatchback's powertrain has sufficient push around town and will go unnoticed—unless you're in a hurry.
The Versa Note's poor handling was most apparent when hitting an exit ramp at increasing speed and feeling the body lean awkwardly. The hatchback's demeanor was calmer at a slower pace where its small size made driving in traffic and tight spaces easy. While the Nissan's lifeless steering felt slow and heavy, it won't bother people who simply want their trip to be as short as possible. Unfortunately, the Versa Note had the longest stopping distance among its competitors. Otherwise, its firm brake pedal reacted smoothly to our inputs in mixed driving conditions.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Versa Note and its fellow hatchbacks are all economical options with lofty fuel-economy ratings. Despite having the highest EPA ratings in this competitive set, the Versa Note had the second-lowest result in our real-world testing. While its 37 mpg is still respectable—and better than the sedan version we tested—rivals such as the Kia Rio and the Honda Fit Sport were more fuel efficient in the real world.
Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo
Likes: Massive glovebox; standard touchscreen; holy back-seat legroom, Batman!
Dislikes: Cabin is noisy on uneven roads, base model can't add Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, no center-console bin.
The Versa Note has an outdated interior design that utilizes too much hard plastic. A pair of comfortable seats and considerable passenger space up front are complemented by equally pleasing rear-seat accommodations. The hatchback's huge back seat is a boon to adults, with as much legroom as some bigger sedans. While the Note shares its dashboard design with the regular Versa sedan, only the hatchback is available with a steering wheel "inspired" by the Nissan Z sports car and a more attractive gauge cluster. However, its shift lever sticks out of the center console like a snow cone and clunks through the gear selections.
The Versa Note has a standard 7.0-inch touchscreen; Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a 4G LTE mobile hotspot are optional. Although its audio system is only available with four speakers, the top-tier SR trim has an optional Rockford Fosgate system for $595. It includes an amplifier and two 6.0-inch subwoofers in the cargo area, but they must be disconnected to access the adjustable load floor.
By nature, the Versa Note is a practical piece of machinery that can hold an abundant amount of luggage when needed. While the sedan version has more cargo volume behind its rear seats (a.k.a. in its trunk), the Note is just as useful as its hatchback rivals. It doesn't have extraordinary interior cubby storage, but it does have several useful compartments.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Versa Note hasn't been fully crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and it hasn't been tested at all by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is also not available with a single safety or driver assist. Those who at least want the option to add some of these driver-assistance features should also consider the Honda Fit or the Rio.
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Although Nissan doesn't offer complimentary scheduled maintenance as does Toyota, the Versa Note has competitive warranty coverage. Kia sets the bar with the most impressive protection plan among these competitors.