2017 Nissan Versa Driving Impressions

Nissan has long been known for the quality of its continuously variable transmissions, which have been improving steadily. In a Versa, however, the CVT contributes to sluggish responses from the 109-horsepower engine. Thus, Versas feel underpowered compared to likely rivals, which may restrict their ability to comfortably pass another vehicle or enter an expressway gracefully.

Acceleration from a standstill to 60 mph is indisputably leisurely, taking about 11.5 seconds. In addition to typical engine noise that accompanies CVT operation when accelerating, the Versa can emit considerable rumble even at steadier speed. Easing up on the gas pedal, it’s reasonably quiet.

Riding quite well even through rougher terrain, Versas also handle in a satisfactory manner. Steering is suitably weighted, though it feels light and often demands numerous small corrections at the wheel to remain on course, thanks in part to slim tires.

All told, a Versa qualifies as competent, but lacks any observable qualities that might signal an enjoyable, or inspiring, driving experience. For most likely buyers, who don’t expect sporty behavior but appreciate ride comfort, a Versa will satisfy.

Good build quality is a bonus, and most road and tire noises are acceptably suppressed. Front-disc/rear-drum brakes do an effective job.

With a CVT, the Versa is EPA-rated at a thrifty 31/39 mpg City/Highway, or 34 mpg Combined. The S model, with 5-speed manual shift, gets an estimate of only 27/36 mpg City/Highway, or 30 mpg Combined.

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