When thinking about our next family car, I don’t tend to gravitate towards compacts but there are times that I surprise myself by thinking I’d consider a car like the 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV ($15,990 base price) as we transition to a family vehicle to one that the kids might inherit as new drivers. Earlier this fall I received a week long loan of the Versa Note and found that it was a champion errand runner, held more cargo than I ever imagined, and featured some pretty nifty tech features that I haven’t seen in other vehicles I’ve tested.
What We Liked
Spacious feel. Despite the car’s compact size, it didn’t feel small when you were sitting inside. Large windows plus a well-designed interior makes you feel like you’re in a bigger car. There are also little triangular windows on each side of the dashboard (that look funny at first just because there aren’t usually windows there) but make you feel less closed in. Of course, a moon roof would help but that added feature would add an additional cost and isn’t an option currently available for any of the 3 Versa Note models.
Cargo space. One must is always abundant cargo space. I need enough room for bulk items procured at Costco, the endless kid stuff that comes with a variety of after school activities, and the family Labrador who is no small creature! During the week we had the Versa Note we did a household toy and clothing purge, filling the trunk up with 4 large boxes to take to our local donation center. It was also the week for the Boy Scout Troop’s annual Scouting for Food Drive that benefits a local food pantry. We picked up food from our neighbors and loaded bags into the Versa Note and had plenty of room left over!
Gas mileage. Prices at the pump remain high and if a hybrid is beyond your budget, you may be better off spending less on a fuel efficient car in the long run. I was able to get just over 30 MPG in the Versa Note doing around town driving. We didn’t have any long trips planned during our week but I bet the fuel economy would be even better for commuters! Estimated fuel efficiency ranges from 27-34 MPG.
Our Versa Note SV came with the SL Tech Package. One of my favorite features was the Around View Monitor that provides a split screen so you can view behind your vehicle in addition to what’s around the sides. So far I haven’t tested another vehicle that features anything similar so this was a nice surprise the first time I put the car in reverse.
The touch screen was a nice size, highly responsive, and easy to navigate through the menus that provide a wealth of information about anything from weather to traffic via voice commands. I also found Bluetooth pairing to my phone to be quick and easy- not always the case in all vehicles that I’ve driven!
The SL Tech Package can be added to the SV model for an additional $800 and also includes:
- NissanConnect℠ with Navigation including 5.8-inch color touch-screen monitor and voice recognition
- POIs powered by Google® and Google® Send-To-Car
- NavTraffic and NavWeather provided by SiriusXM
- Hands-free text messaging assistant
- Pandora® radio capability
- Around View® Monitor
- Streaming audio via Bluetooth® wireless technology
- Dual power heated outside mirrors
The kids noticed right away that the rear windows go down all the way (a highly coveted feature in any car we test because it’s rare!), had cup holders in the arm rest, and there was plenty of legroom. One thing that can be an issue in compact cars is the placement of the seat belt fastener being partially covered up by wide booster seat bases that makes it difficult for kids to buckle up. The placement of the Versa Note’s fasteners allowed Captain Computer to buckle without any trouble.
We also tested the back seat capacity by giving one of the kids’ friends a ride home and there were no complaints about lack of space given the booster seat and two almost 10 year olds riding in the back seat. The back seat space would most likely be tight as kids get older and the ability to have three kids ride is highly dependent on age.
Dog Factor. Oliver did not get to be a passenger in the Versa Note. He probably could have fit in the back but since the fleet company told me this was a pre-production model, I was hesitant to let our dog ride in a vehicle that wasn’t yet on the market! He also would have loved sitting in the back seat, head and neck craning out the windows in search for animals to bark out thanks to windows that rolled all the way down.
Features I Wish the Versa Note Had
I wish there was a center console to stash things in although I realize this would have taken up a lot of space between the two front seats and made the car feel more closed in. I would also like to see a moon roof option to make the interior feel even more spacious though this would have added to the cost too. However, neither of these two things were deal breakers to me in testing the vehicle but they are things I look for when our family is shopping for a car.
Price. We drove the 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV, the priciest of the three Versa Note models, which is still a steal at a base price of $15,990. The model we drove had the Convenience Package (+$540), SL Package (+$1,700), and the SL Tech Package (+$800) bringing the total of the car we drove to $19,030. More information about the features that can be found with the various packages can be found here.
I received a 1 week loan of the 2014 Versa Note in addition to a gift card and a nice basket of goodies from the Nissan team but all opinions are my own and based on experiences that my family and I had during the week we had the vehicle.