Friday, January 3, 2014

Versa Note ups the ante at entry level

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website – via the “GALLERY: Reviews of new cars” link at

Sacramento, California – As we zip into 2014, what better way to start than with an entry-level car?

But calling the 2014 Nissan Versa Note an entry-level vehicle doesn’t really cover it.  Entry-level warrior is more like it.

Exceedingly popular.  Liberally appointed.  Decidedly affordable.  And, oh yes, all-new for the 2014 model year.

My tester was the 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV, the priciest among three trim levels, with a starting number of $15,990.  To be fair, mine was extravagantly dressed up with options to bring the bottom line to $19,545.

That’s still not a bad price for four-door, five-passenger transportation.

Your second look at Versa Note window sticker, after noting the price, likely will fall on the fuel economy numbers.  And those should be pleasing to you – 31 miles per gallon in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

Those numbers come from a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 109 horsepower.  OK, that’s not going to get your heart racing, but then again, that’s not the purpose of this car.  Buyers want affordable, reliable transportation with a fair amount of perks.  And that’s what you get.

Having said that, the Note’s performance is actually pretty fair.  My Versa scooted along in the dicey urban jungle and held its own on the interstates, and for most of us, it’s hard to ask much more than that in a small entry-level car.

Nissan engineers said they worked mightily to reduce the car’s overall weight, and it shows in the steering, which is instantly responsive and light to the touch. 

Styling is what I’d call saucy Euro, with road rally racer lines on the front end and a sculpted Euro chop on the back end.  For my money, a good look.

The standard package is nice, and the Technology Package goes above and beyond the call in this class, including heated side-view mirrors, a 360-degree “Around View Monitor” and a nifty navigation system.

And surprise, back seat space is pretty darn good at 38.3 inches of legroom.  Yeah, an NFL linebacker might feel crowded back there, but other adults should find the ride comfortable.

A new car for a new year. And it feels just right to me.


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