One-Day Drive

First Drive Review: 2020 Nissan Versa is a budget-friendly commuter car

The redesigned Nissan Versa has come a long way since it's last generation.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2020 Nissan Versa isn't going to knock anyone's socks off as a speedster or wow you with finery. What this new generation Versa needs to do, for its typical buyer, is deliver a lot of bang for the buck housed inside an attractive enough package. It does that and more.

The Versa is a subcompact car that fits in Nissan's lineup at the bottom, sitting below the Sentra, Altima, and Maxima on the cars side of the aisle. The last-generation Versa came in both a sedan and hatchback but the 2020 does not. Nissan is intending for the subcompact Kicks SUV to pick up that slack.

The 2020 Versa comes in S, SV, and SR trim levels. Its pricing structure is designed to keep it among the lowest cost cars out there, but Nissan didn't prioritize the Versa being the cheapest. Instead, the automaker focused on delivering a vehicle for the typical buyer who needs a solid daily driver.

2020 Nissan Versa The Versa has many Nissan design hallmarks you'll see in other models in the automaker's lineup.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

For the 2020 model year, Nissan has completely redesigned the Versa inside and out, giving it many of the characteristics you'll see on the Altima including a V-motion grille front and center, boomerang-shaped headlamps, and a floating roof. The new Versa is lower, wider, and longer than the outgoing generation.

The Versa's new body is significantly more ridged than the outgoing model's. Not only does this help with noise, vibration, and harshness reductions, it makes the vehicle more stable on the road when it encounters crosswinds. The engineering team has also improved the steering shaft's rigidity resulting in a more responsive behind the wheel experience.

Under the Versa's hood is the third generation of the company's 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine. That's the same size power plant as is in the Kicks, only one generation newer. It achieves 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque, a 12 and seven percent upgrade over the last generation, respectively.

2020 Nissan Versa A five-speed manual transmission is standard but all other variants come with a continuously variable transmission.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In its base model, the Versa's engine is mated with a five-speed manual transmission, one of the few remaining vehicles on dealer lots with one. All other variants come with a continuously variable transmission.

While the Versa is not fast by any means, it's competent in the city and can hold its own at highway speeds. Where the small car struggles the most is when going uphill at low speed. For daily driving situations in most of America, the Versa is competent.

Climbing inside the Versa, it's immediately apparent that this model sits at the lower end of Nissan's lineup. However, especially in the top SR trim, the appointments are nicer than what you'll find in other small cars. The Versa has good fit and finish.

The list of standard features in the 2020 Versa is long and includes a 7-inch infotainment touch screen, Bluetooth, a 12-volt power outlet, three USB ports, Siri Eyes Free, an AM/FM radio, one-touch up/down driver's window, front door bottle holders, cruise control, keyless entry, push-button start, and a rearview camera.

2020 Nissan Versa The Nissan Versa delivers a lot of bang for the buck, including a standard 7-inch infotainment screen.Photo courtesy of Nisan North America

Buyers can upgrade to a six-speaker audio system, an advanced 7-inch infotainment screen, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, NissanConnect with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and satellite radio. SR models also get automatic climate control, Nissan Intelligent Key with remote start, and adaptive cruise control.

The base model Versa comes with cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, high beam assist, a rearview camera, rear automatic braking, and hill start assist. Higher grades build on that also delivering Intelligent Driver Alertness, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot monitoring.

Nissan sells the 2020 Versa in three grades: S, SV, and SR. It starts at $14,730, a nearly $2,500 jump from the outgoing model. With the SV and SR grades coming in at $17,640 and $18,240, respectively, it's easy to see the value proposition in the new Versa.

The 2020 Nissan Versa is on sale now at dealer lots nationwide.

Click here to see a slideshow featuring all the angles of the 2020 Nissan Versa.

The first review of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is in.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

It's an icon and a supercar and it's been long-awaited. The eighth generation of this American thoroughbred, dubbed the "C8", has hit the streets for a fortunate few auto testers, however a huge host of passionate enthusiasts will be delighted to hear that the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will be on sale soon.

This Chevrolet Corvette has been radically reimagined for the 2020 model year with a new mid-engine platform, modernized fighter jet-inspired styling, and a collection of new technologies and features that make it not only faster, but more comfortable and fun to drive. Competitors include the Acura NSX, Audi R8, and Porsche 911.

General Motors' halo car boasts its own museum and will continue to attract its core fan base; many have owned several Corvettes and Chevrolet hopes to lure new performance-minded buyers seeking Corvette's pristine weight distribution and the type of agility typically reserved for six-figure supercars.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette The Corvette's looks are inspired by a fighter jet.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

It comes in 3 trims; 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT. Savvy Corvette owners are already thinking about Grand Sport and ZR1 versions. A convertible version comes next year.

The newest model is lean, muscular, and athletic with canopy-forward exterior styling that adapts many quintessential Corvette design features. Longer, lower and wider, it wears an updated front end that hides a mini trunk for cargo. Side air intakes for engine cooling are the focal point of the profile, while dual LED taillights sport animated turn signals and sit above the quad tailpipes. The rear hatch glass cleverly showcases the engine.

Corvette's next-generation 6.2-liter V8 is the only naturally-aspirated engine in the mid-engine sports car segment. It produces 495 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque and moves the Stingray Z51 from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds with bigger brakes, an electronic limited-slip differential and performance suspension/traction management. A new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is backed by paddle shifters and can be motivated for six different driving parameters: weather, tour, sport and track, My Mode, and Z Mode.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette engine The Corvette Stingray is powered by a 6.2-liter V8.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The driver-focused upscale interior features a customizable digital instrument panel and slender vertical ventilation slots. Hand-wrapped leather, thick press stitching, real metal, and carbon fiber fill the interior, depending on trim.

There are three seat options, a Corvette-first. Standard are GT1s with eight-way power; GT2 brings heated/ventilated surfaces; Competition and Sport adds bolstering for aggressive motoring.

The 2LT trims get a front curb camera view, heated steering wheel, and available GT2 seats in Napa leather while 3LTs are adorned in a leather-wrapped interior, with 13 colors choices, suede trim and GT2 seats.

A new squared-off, two-spoke steering wheel allows for an unobstructed view of the 12-inch reconfigurable cluster display.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette interior The cabin of the Corvette has been the subject of much consternation.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

A rear stowage area has been carved out to hold two sets of golf clubs.

Corvette's next-generation infotainment system is faster and simpler, with a higher resolution display. Chevy is offering one-touch Bluetooth pairing with Near Field Communication, wireless charging, and improved real-time traffic. Buyers get a choice of two new Bose audio systems: a standard 10-speaker premium system or a 14-speaker Bose Performance Series (2LTs and 3LTs).

The industry-pioneering Performance Data Recorder is an advanced driving analysis tool upgraded with a high-definition resolution camera that joins with the new, in-vehicle user interface to record circuit and point-to-point road courses.

Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, stability control, side-impact airbags, and a security system with an ignition disable device that prevents the engine from starting without the original manufacturer key.

The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette will be on sale in early 2020 and will start just under $60,000. Buyers who desire the more heightened-race-feel and engineering of the Z51 Performance Package will need to spend an additional $5,000, while enthusiasts that want added luxury appointments should look at top-end models; 3LTs start near $72,000.

Nissan has name pothumously named Jamie Schou a TITAN of the Community.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In 2012, 33-year old Jamie Schou was living in Truckee, California, spending time outdoors, working as a realtor, and driving around in his beloved 2006 Nissan Titan. To the casual observer, he was the picture of health.

That March he found a lump in his back. It was diagnosed as synovial sarcoma, a cancer that primarily affects young adults near their joints. It's rare – each year one to three people per 1 million are diagnosed.

The 6'8" former collegiate rower was not about to let cancer stop him from the things he loved the most.

Schou grew up three hours southwest of Truckee in Mill Valley, California, the oldest of four siblings. He loved exploring the nearby mountains with his three younger sisters – Katie, Caroline, and Margot. After graduating, he moved back to his home state, and soon purchased a 2006 Nissan Titan.

Jamie Schou Jamie Schou with sisters (from left to right) Margot, Katie and Caroline.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

"I have so many memories of Jamie showing up with this truck, piling in a bunch of our friends and heading to the hill or the trail," said his sister Katie Schou. "Every time I or anyone saw this truck roll up, you knew – Jamie's here! And it'd make you so excited."

Schou and his truck were there during the less enjoyable parts of life too.

"Any time anybody needed help with a move – help with anything – Jamie would show up with this truck," Katie reminisced. "He was always there to help at the drop of a hat. Jamie and his truck were there not only for adventures, but life changes. The truck was always part of it."

2006 Nissan Titan Jamie Schou Jamie's 2006 Nissan Titan has over 200,000 miles on it.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

This was the case for Schou himself. After his diagnosis, Schou began treatment at Stanford University Medical Center. He did not allow cancer to slow him down – he faced the disease head-on and continued his outdoor pursuits. Driving his trusty Titan around the state, Schou climbed Half Dome in Yosemite, went skydiving, and skied Mt. Lassen.

Despite his supportive family and friends, Schou began feeling isolated, Katie explained. Most other young adults were figuring out careers and relationships, not fighting cancer.

Schou channeled his desire for a like-minded community and his love of the outdoors into creating a clothing brand, Send It, and a nonprofit, The Send It Foundation. A portion of the proceeds from the clothing brand benefit the foundation. The clothing brand and foundation both embody Schou's desire to live life full throttle.

The Send It Foundation Caroline Schou (front) grabs a photo with the Send It Surf & Ride group on the final night of the program.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The foundation allows young adult cancer fighters and survivors (ages 21-40) to experience deep friendships and fun outdoor adventures away from the daily grind of life with cancer. Through the foundation, young adult cancer fighters and survivors enjoy the great outdoors through a sport such as skiing or surfing and bond with others who have gone through similar experiences. To this day, Schou's Titan is used to help transport participants and gear on these trips. Schou's three sisters are all involved with the foundation.

May 2019 Send It Surf & Ride participant Alexandra Fine, who survived Hodgkin's lymphoma, says, "Nothing you say here surprises anybody. You can just be open and honest and be yourself, and I think that's important for everybody."

Tragically, Jamie passed away, at age 35, in July 2014. The Schou family kept Jamie's Titan and continued using it for Send It trips, but by summer 2018, the 12-year-old truck needed expensive repairs. The family had an emotional decision to make. One of their last tangible attachments to their son and brother needed to be either sold or fixed.

In the midst of making their decision, in September 2018, Katie met employees from Nissan North America at an outdoor lifestyle trade show. Katie mentioned the story of her brother and the "Send It Titan" to the Nissan team.


Katie Schou 2006 Nissan Titan Send It Foundation Katie Schou still uses Jamie's Titan for foundation business.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

That month, Nissan had announced its Calling All Titans campaign, which "celebrate[s] people using their trucks to help those around them". Jamie's mission fit the spirit of the campaign, and as a way to honor the legacy of this titan of his community, Nissan elected to assist the Schou family in keeping Jamie's Titan road-worthy, ensuring Jamie's legacy and mission are able to continue many more years and miles.

The Send It Foundation has served 150 cancer survivors and completed 31 programs in the last four years. Schou himself summed it up best in a journal entry written before his passing:

"Send It was formed by my story and my joys, but I hope the future is written by all that choose to wear it, share it, and find experiences from it. The terrors of this diseases have provided me with the wonderful opportunity and desire to create something greater that I know will benefit so many! I leave it in your hands."