2014 Nissan Versa Note Second Opinion

Easy-to-Drive, Unsophisticated Subcompact

2014 Nissan Versa Note Second Opinion

The 2014 Nissan Versa Note has one objective. It’s supposed to give customers more for less. It’s designed to give more space, features and comfort while offering better fuel efficiency than its major competitors. With my wife being a noted aficionado of spacious, value-packed vehicles, what better car to have her test out for our ongoing Second Opinion series?


Engine: The 1.6L four-cylinder engine makes 109 hp and 106 lb-ft of torque.

Transmission: The only transmission offered in the Versa Note SV is a CVT automatic.

Fuel Economy: 31 mpg city, 40 mpg highway.

Price: Starts at $14,800 after destination charges, while our SV test vehicle with the SL Tech package came in at $19,300.

If you missed the first few installments, Second Opinion is a new segment on AutoGuide.com where we give my practical-car-loving wife a vehicle to evaluate. She often has a different view on cars than we do. Items that don’t bother us might be an issue for her and vice versa (no pun intended).

Fully Loaded, Still Under $20K

In this case, her specific test vehicle is a fully loaded 2014 Versa Note SV with the SL Tech package. Although a base model Versa Note begins at $14,800 after destination charges, a fully-loaded SL model costs $19,300. This $4,500 price jump gives the Versa a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), automatic climate control, a 5.8-inch color touch-screen, navigation, keyless entry and push button start. Oh and keyless entry is also included.

2014 Nissan Versa Note SL 11

With those premium options, Nissan had to save money somewhere and the interior design suffered. Amanda appreciates the clean, straightforward dashboard, but the cheap-feeling materials bother her.

2014 Nissan Versa Note SL 10Parking in crowded lots appeals to Amanda as much as former General Motors CEO Roger Smith does to Michael Moore. So the idea of the backup and 360-degree camera seemed appealing. Nissan’s “Around View” system, as it’s called, combines camera views to offer that picture, but the fragmented view it ends up with bothers Amanda. In the end, she said the Versa Note’s generous windows and boxy shape made the car easy to park on their own.

See Also: 2014 Ford Fiesta vs. Nissan Versa Note

Amanda also especially liked “NissanConnect” and found that its directions were easy to follow. In fact, it ranks as one of her all-time favorite GPS systems, aside from one issue. She couldn’t figure out how to search by category or intersection without pulling out the owner’s manual.

Leaving Her in the Cold

2014 Nissan Versa Note SL 04

After a couple of days driving the car, Amanda was complaining that when temperatures dropped to 10 degrees Fahrenheit or below, the cabin wouldn’t heat up sufficiently during a 30-minute commute to work. To investigate, we took the car for a drive and I noticed the digital engine temperature gauge didn’t budge from the coldest reading after 15 minutes of driving.

2014 Nissan Versa Note SL 13Once we entered the highway, the reading went up a few bars only to come back down again once we exited the highway and sat at a red light. Other writers and owners are experiencing the same heat issues on extremely cold days.

With a mere 109 hp and 106 lb-ft of torque motivating a 2,500-lb hatchback, the 1.6-liter engine’s focus is on efficiency. Equipped with a CVT, the Versa Note is officially rated to deliver 31 MPG in the city and 40 MPG on the highway. But with temperatures steadily on the frigid side and an engine that struggled to fully warm up, she averaged 28 MPG during a week behind the wheel.

Lacking Power and Sophistication

2014 Nissan Versa Note SL 17

Even with a low curb weight and flexible CVT, Amanda still felt the car was a bit too weak, saying it feels strained at highway speeds. As well, the overall drive of the car was a bit less refined than she is used to and feels less sophisticated than her 2008 Suzuki SX4.
Inside, Amanda found the seat settings were easy to modify to her liking and quickly felt comfortable behind the wheel. The seat-mounted right armrest is too high for her to use, however, and the fabric upholstery could stand to be improved, but the  fact that they are heated made up for the lacking aesthetics.

See Also: 2014 Nissan Versa Note Review – Video

With 38.3 inches of legroom, the backseat in the Versa Note is already spacious and with my 5’2” wife pulling the driver’s seat up to her preferred driving position, space back there becomes downright limousine like, which is surprising for such a small car.

The Verdict

2014 Nissan Versa Note SL 06

Many of the issues experienced during the week with this car had to do with cold weather, but Amanda found the Versa Note to be a good overall value as items like a backup camera, navigation and push button start can be had at a low price. Although it wouldn’t be a car she would consider purchasing at this stage in her life, she thinks it would be a great car for young, first time car buyers or someone older who wants something small, simple to use and easy to drive.

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