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.

Watch the videos on AutomotiveMap or visit the Mungenast Classic Automobiles & Motorcycles Museum to see the cars and motorcycles in person.

Photo courtesy of the Mungenast Classic Automobiles & Motorcycles Museum

Like sand through the hourglass, these are the Honda vehicles of our lives. The Mungenast Classic Automobiles & Motorcycles Museum is dedicated to sharing the passion behind late motorcycle racer and dealership owner Dave Mungenast Sr.'s vehicle collection with the St. Louis community and beyond. Mungenast became a Honda motorcycle dealer in 1965 and was one of the first Acura dealers in the U.S.

The newest videos in the museum's "Honda Kokoro" series pay homage to the 1960s and 1970s, taking viewers on a virtual visit to the Honda showrooms of the era. They celebrate the heritage, culture, people, and products that make Honda unique, according to a release.

The two-part video that can be watched below shows of Honda's automotive and motorcycle history through the products and memorabilia that are located at the museum.

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The videos feature several rare vehicles including Honda "S" model cars that were never sold in America, a Z600, and a 1979 Civic. There's also the first Honda Scrambler to win a National Championship, a XLV750R (never sold in America), Z50 Mini Trail, XL250, CBX, GL 100 Gold Wing, and a 1970 CB750.

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To see the cars and motorcycles in person, visit the Mungenast Classic Automobiles & Motorcycles Museum in St. Louis, Missouri.

Infiniti has admitted that it made mistakes when it launched the redesigned QX50 luxury midsize SUV in January 2018. The right packages and options were not in place to give the model the success it deserved. However, in the year since its launch, the landscape has changed.

The Acura RDX has been redesigned as an agile and athletic daily driver, Audi introduced the SQ5 model giving sportiness to the family-friendly Q5 SUV, and the Volvo XC60 has made a strong argument for attention with a redesign. Lincoln has also introduced the Corsair, which is perhaps the QX50's biggest competition.

2020 Infiniti QX50 The models looks haven't changed much since it debuted in 2018.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.

The QX50 is a comfortable cruiser. It's not particularly engaging nor is it altogether peppy but it is capable. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that achieves 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, the SUV does everything it's supposed to without protest.

The SUV rides smoothly and doesn't pass on much road noise to the cabin.

The car steers accurately if a bit numbly but it is easy to drive, especially when equipped with ProPilot Assist, Nissan's suite of drive assistance and safety technology that includes a lane centering functionality when using cruise control. The technology makes long drives less of a chore while also keeping the car centered when the driver exhibits distracting behavior like drinking a sip of coffee or changing the radio station.

Switching from a SUV with ProPilot Assit to one with standard cruise control is a quick reminder of how good the system is. Buyers should opt for models with the technology if they can afford it.

Steering wheel The seats of the Infiniti QX50 are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.

Journalists who review the QX50 are likely to call its infotainment system dated. They're used to having the latest, greatest, and most innovative products at their fingertips. However, buyers coming from cars over three years old will likely see the QX50's two-screen infotainment system as a step up from what they currently have in their driveway. The controls of the system are easy to use despite the fact that the navigation screen isn't able to be easily read while driving.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the model, as are blind spot warning, forward collision warning, and forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Moving up from the $38,000-ish QX50 base model to the mid-grade QX50 Essential $44,000 gets buyers heated seats, a panoramic moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, Around View Monitor, power sunshade, LED fog lamps, and roof rails. It is in this configuration that the QX50 hits the right balance between features, power, capability, luxury features, and price. The QX50 tops out near $60,000.

Dual screen infotainment system Infiniti is one of the few companies that offers a dual-screen infotainment system.Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.

If a stranger were to approach on the street and ask if the QX50 is a "good car," it would be easy to answer with, "yes." It's not a vehicle meant for sporty drivers looking for zippy ride around town. It's comfortable, capable, and priced right for the average premium compact SUV buyer coming out of an aging model.