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    Review: 2014 Nissan Versa Note SL


    • Is Space and a Low Price A Good Plan For A Subcompact?


    Space, the final frontier.

    Besides being one of the well known lines in pop culture, it’s a perfect description for the Nissan Versa. When the automaker first introduced the Versa, it promoted that the model had a lot of space for not a lot of money. With this combination, Nissan was able to take a nice chunk of the subcompact marketplace. But as time went on, the subcompact marketplace got more competitive with automakers introducing brand new models that offered more than a low price. However, Nissan is sticking with a lot of space for not a lot money combination with the new Versa and Versa Note. Is this still a viable plan? I spent a week in a 2014 Versa Note SL to find out.

    There are two key items you need to know about the Versa Note’s design. One: It follows the general rule in subcompact and compact car design where the hatchback has a bit more style than the sedan. Two: The Versa Note’s overall design either reminds you of a small bread van or a tropical fish. The latter due in part to the tester’s blue color. Some design cues Nissan has applied to the Versa Note include a long, narrow front grille; seventeen-inch alloy wheels on the SL, and a rear spoiler.

    2014 Nissan Versa Note SL 2

    Space is the big theme with Versa Note and it begins with the back seat. Stepping back here, you’ll be surprised at the amount of head and legroom available here. Getting into the back for the first time, I felt like I was sitting in a midsize sedan, not a subcompact. For cargo space, the Versa Note offers up 18.8 cubic feet of space with the back seats up. This beats the Infiniti QX80 I reviewed the week before.

    Another selling point Nissan is promoting with the Versa Note is the amount of tech. On this particular model, it came equipped with a 5.5-inch color touchscreen with NissanConnect and navigation. The new system’s interface looks a little bit dated, but its easy to navigate thanks to large touch points and hard buttons on either side to move to different functions. It also comes with the ability for you to send points of interest and directions from Google. The system allows you use certain apps such as Facebook when your phone is hooked up. Sadly, I didn’t get chance to try either feature out. What I did try was Nissan’s Around View Camera system which uses four cameras (one in the front, the back, and under each side view mirror) to provide a 360 degree view of the view when backing up or getting into a tight parking space. It may seem a bit odd to have this feature in subcompact hatchback with excellent visibility all around, but I was very appreciative of this feature when I was trying to get the Note into a tight parallel parking spot.

    2014 Nissan Versa Note SL 15

    The rest of the interior is well, very dull. While many subcompacts are being somewhat interesting with their interiors, the Versa Note sticks on the boring side. Materials are mostly of the hard plastic variety, which is the standard for the class. Build quality is excellent.

    For Driving Impressions, See Page 2


    Powering the Versa family is a 1.6L four-cylinder with 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque. Base models get a five-speed manual as standard, while higher trim models such as the SL get a CVT. With a 0-60 MPH time around 11 seconds, the Versa Note is one of the slowest vehicles on sale. But oddly, it doesn’t feel that slow in certain situations such as leaving a stop. In others such as merging onto the freeway, you find yourself wanting a bit more oomph and less noise from the engine and CVT. The upside to the slowness is EPA fuel economy ratings of 31 City/40 Highway/35 Combined. During the week I saw an average of 34 MPG. The saying of you win some and you lose some is very apparent here.

    2014 Nissan Versa Note SL 11

    The Versa Note feeling like a bigger vehicle also pertains to the suspension. A MacPherson strut/torsion bar suspension setup is used and for the most part, and it was able to cope with most imperfections on the road. It should be noted that large bumps were able to upset the suspension. Out on the curves, the Versa Note isn’t great. The suspension tune is manly focused on comfort which means the Versa Note shows evidence of body lean. Steering feels very rubbery and there isn’t really much feel when you decide to push it.

    2014 Nissan Versa Note SL 6

    The subcompact class is filled with many vehicles that have their own distinct advantages for someone to find the right model. Because of this, the 2014 Nissan Versa Note fills a niche. If you’re someone who wants a lot space for not a lot cash, and the availability of a lot technology, then the 2014 Versa Note is one that deserves a closer look. But if you want something a bit more funky; something with a bit more sport; or something with better appointments, you have a wide range of vehicles to choose from.

    Cheers: Space, Big Car Ride, Around-View Camera, Infotainment System

    Jeers: Could Use A Bit More Power, Dull Interior, Not A Car You Want To Play Around With

    Disclaimer: Nissan Provided the Versa Note, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2014

    Make: Nissan

    Model: Versa Note

    Trim: SL

    Engine: 1.6L DOHC Inline-Four

    Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT

    Horsepower @ RPM: 109 @ 6,000

    Torque @ RPM: 107 @ 4,400

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 31/40/35

    Curb Weight: 2,482 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Aguascalientes, Mexico

    Base Price: $15,990.00

    As Tested Price: $19,545.00 (Includes $790.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    SL Package - $1,700.00

    Technology Package - $800.00

    Carpeted Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $175.00

    Rear Cargo Cover - $90.00

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster

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    previous versas were scary to drive. sloppy handling, crap suspension.

    lotsa room though.

    Seems improved, but not enough to stand out and with the new Fit coming, this won't make waves, it will sell on price alone.

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    previous versas were scary to drive. sloppy handling, crap suspension.

    lotsa room though.

    Seems improved, but not enough to stand out and with the new Fit coming, this won't make waves, it will sell on price alone.

    And the Sonic is infinitely better than both the fit and Mersa..I mean Versa.

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    Nice review, it would be good to know how that 18.8 cubic ft of space can actually be used. Two full size suitcases, bunch of small box;s or what. I suspect based on the sloping roof line and with the seats tilting back that the space is not as usable as it would seem.

    Agree with the others, the Sonic is still way better than this car, but glad to see they are working to update it. Nissan fans will be happy.

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    my sx4's were way better to drive than the old versas. even. sad. good luck nissan. 109hp 107 torque yeah baby

    As much as it pains me to actually agree with reg on Suzuki... He is actually right.

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    my sx4's were way better to drive than the old versas. even. sad. good luck nissan. 109hp 107 torque yeah baby

    As much as it pains me to actually agree with reg on Suzuki... He is actually right.

    Yep!

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    here's another one for you it will pain to agree on. A mitsubishi Lancer is more fun to drive.

    The Mirage, probably not. The lancer, yes

    Don't tell reg, who I love like a brother but would cross the Pacific ocean in a leaky rowboat to harass...but I have had dark and terrible thoughts of a lancer ralliart joining the fleet.

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      View full article
    • By William Maley
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      Model: Optima
      Trim: SXL
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 1,350-4,000 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/32/25
      Curb Weight: 3,594 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, Georgia
      Base Price: $35,790
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      N/A
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      Model: LX 570
      Trim: N/A
      Engine: 5.7L 32-Valve, DOHC Dual VVT-i V8
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 383 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 403 @ 3,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/18/15
      Curb Weight: 6,000 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japn
      Base Price: $88,880
      As Tested Price: $96,905 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Mark Levinson Audio System - $2,150.00
      Dual-Screen DVD Rear-Seat Entertainment System - $2,005.00
      Luxury Package - $1,190.00
      Heads-Up Display - $900.00
      Cargo Mat, Net, Wheel Locks, & Key Glove - $250.00
      All-Weather Floor Mats - $165.00
      Heated Black Shimamoku Steering Wheel - $150.00
      Wireless Charger - $75.00

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    • By William Maley
      Most luxury SUVs will never go fully off-road. The closest they’ll ever get is driving down a gravel road. But that doesn’t mean some automakers aren’t filling them with the latest off-road for that one person who decides to. Case in point is the LX 570. Lexus’ variant of the Toyota Land Cruiser has been updated inside and out to try and draw buyers away from the usual suspects in the class.
      For 2016, Lexus has softened the LX’s boxy-shape with some rounded edges and more imposing fenders. The front grille has grown in size to match other Lexus vehicles, though to our eyes it looks more like the head from a Cylon in the 1980’s Battlestar Galactica tv show. The rear features new taillights and a reshaped tailgate. The interior has somehow become more opulent since the last LX we drove. A new dash design features real wood trim and more soft-touch materials. Our tester featured leather upholstery that can be described as red-orange. At first, I thought it was a bit much. But over the week I grew to like the color as it adds some personality. Sitting in either the front or second-row seats of the LX is a pleasant experience. There is plenty of head and legroom for both rows, along with heat. Front seats also get ventilation as standard. The third-row seat is a bit of joke. Getting back there in the first place is quite difficult due to the small gap when you move the second-row forward. Once back there, you find legroom is almost negligible. Finally, the way the third row folds up by side walls and not into the floor hampers cargo space - only offering 41 cubic feet. Lexus’ Remote Touch interface has arrived in the LX this year with a gargantuan 12.3-inch screen sitting on top of the dash. On the plus side, the screen is vibrant and easy to read. The negative is the remote touch controller as you’ll find yourself choosing the wrong function because the controller is very sensitive to inputs. Power comes from 5.7L V8 with 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and full-time four-wheel drive system. On paper, the V8 should move the LX 570 with no issue. But a curb weight of 6,000 pounds negates this. Performance can be described as ho-hum as it takes a few ticks longer to get up to speed. At least the eight-speed automatic transmission is a smooth operator and quick to respond when you stab the throttle. The LX 570 is chock full of clever off-road tech such as crawl control, hill start assist, 360-degree camera system, and multi-terrain select system that optimizes various parts of the powertrain and four-wheel drive system. Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to put any of these to the test. No matter the condition of the road, the LX 570 provides a smooth and relaxing ride. Impressive when you consider the LX is riding on a set of 21-inch wheels. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Lexus added a set of adaptive dampers for the 2016 LX and you can adjust the firmness via a knob in the center console - Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. The dampers do help reduce body roll in corners, giving you a little bit more confidence. Steering is what you would expect in an SUV, light and numb. This makes the LX a bit cumbersome to move in certain places such as a parking lot. Compared to the last LX 570 we drove, the 2016 model has gone up in price. Base price now stands at $88,880 and our as-tested price comes in at $96,905. This one feels a bit a more worth of price tag that Lexus is asking for, but I still think a Cadillac Escalade or Range Rover are slightly better in terms of value. If you’re planning a trip to Death Valley or the Rocky Mountains and want something that can you there and back, along with providing all of the luxuries, look no further than the LX. Otherwise, there are a number of other luxury SUVs that make more sense if you’re planning to stay on the pavement. Year: 2016
      Make: Lexus
      Model: LX 570
      Trim: N/A
      Engine: 5.7L 32-Valve, DOHC Dual VVT-i V8
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 383 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 403 @ 3,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/18/15
      Curb Weight: 6,000 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japn
      Base Price: $88,880
      As Tested Price: $96,905 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Mark Levinson Audio System - $2,150.00
      Dual-Screen DVD Rear-Seat Entertainment System - $2,005.00
      Luxury Package - $1,190.00
      Heads-Up Display - $900.00
      Cargo Mat, Net, Wheel Locks, & Key Glove - $250.00
      All-Weather Floor Mats - $165.00
      Heated Black Shimamoku Steering Wheel - $150.00
      Wireless Charger - $75.00
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