2017 Nissan Versa Note Review

Versa Note

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2017 Nissan Versa Note Overview

It doesn’t offer much in the way of luxury or performance, but Nissan’s 2017 Versa Note subcompact hatchback is long on value, perfect for the urban-dwelling family on a budget. With seating for 5, this pint-size hatch matches its Versa sedan cousin (covered in a separate preview) in looks, features, and personality, while also adding in a little extra cargo space.

There are no scheduled changes for the 2017 Versa Note, which underwent a comprehensive refresh inside and out for 2015. The trim lineup includes the S, S Plus, SV, SR, and top-shelf SL. Look for this little hatchback to boast a surprisingly roomy cabin, though cargo room is below the class average, with 18.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 38.3 cubic feet total. The 2017 Versa Note should offer a pleasant ride, but power and handling will likely leave a little to be desired. All versions are available only with front-wheel drive (FWD).

Like the Versa sedan, the Versa Note gets its grunt from a 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) powerplant that puts out 109 hp and 107 lb-ft of torque. The entry-level S trim is only delivered with a 5-speed manual transmission, while all other editions get a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The CVT achieves a healthy 31 mpg city/40 highway/35 combined, and the manual is good for 27/36/30--but these fuel-economy numbers may be tough to come by in real-world driving. One track test had the current Versa Note going from 0-60 mph in 10.4 seconds, a full 1.6 seconds slower than the considerably more potent Honda Fit.

The Versa Note is admittedly less well-equipped than many of its competitors, with a cabin full of hard plastic and uninteresting interior accent materials. Lower trims tend to scrimp on features, but you can get a brand-new Versa Note S for less than you’d pay for many similarly equipped used cars. Unfortunately, there's little in the way of interior soundproofing, no height adjustment for the driver’s seat, no split-folding rear seats in the S trim, and a tilt-only steering wheel, all of which may not stand out very much to more discriminating consumers.

On the plus side, higher Versa Note trims include standard features like a rear-view camera, power-adjustable exterior mirrors, a rear spoiler, a touchscreen display, and satellite radio, while the flagship SL trim adds standard Bluetooth-integrated NissanConnect infotainment with destination downloads and smartphone apps.

Among the options available on the SV, SR, and SL is a unique “Divide-n-Hide” adjustable cargo floor that allows smaller items such as purses or briefcases to be stashed out of sight below the floor itself while bulkier items are loaded above.

Standard safety features include front-disc/rear-drum antilock braking (ABS) and supplemental airbags on all trims; higher trims also boast standard front fog/driving lights, turn-signal-integrated mirrors, and a remote antitheft alarm. The SL additionally packs Nissan’s Easy Fill tire-inflation alert system, which sounds the vehicle's horn when it senses you've reached the proper psi while inflating the tires. An available Around View Monitor (AVM) provides 360-degree camera coverage to aid difficult parking maneuvers.

The National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) gives the current Versa Note lineup 4 out of 5 stars for overall crashworthiness. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), meantime, has awarded the Versa Note its highest score of Good on all tests except the small-overlap frontal-offset, where the Nissan received a worst possible score of Poor. The IIHS also gives the current editions its second-highest score of Acceptable for ease of use on the government-mandated LATCH child-seat anchoring system.

The 2017 Versa Note will challenge other entry-level vehicles like the Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, and Hyundai Accent in the small hatchback market, with each of these rivals offering more in the way of refinement and performance--though at a higher price. A further challenge comes in the form of Honda’s Fit, generally acknowledged as the best of the subcompact hatchback available here in the U.S.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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