EXPERT REVIEW

Mother Proof's view


Nissan has a new name on the block: Versa. I’m always intrigued by the names manufacturers select for their vehicles: LeSabre, Corolla, Passat. What do they mean? I’m guessing “Versa” is meant to imply “versatile,” but often my experience driving this little offering from Nissan more closely resembled “versus.” Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t fight this car. In fact, it’s quite friendly and zippy. Rather, living in a town where most people’s vehicle choices come down to SUV versus truck, more often than not the Versa had to fight her way through traffic. Believe it or not, she did it with grace.

So maybe Nissan means Versa to sound poetic and lyrical, like “verse.” While I wouldn’t call it lyrical, the 2007 Nissan Versa hatchback certainly was smooth and easy to drive, and I truly enjoyed its easygoing nature. It took corners without feeling like it would topple over. I liked the tight steering and solid braking, and though it doesn’t have a huge engine, I never felt as though it lacked power. I won’t be taking the Versa up any mountain passes at the speed of light, but around town, this car is pretty great.

What else makes the Versa great? The kids can get in and out completely on their own – no doorjamb head-bonking here. My son can fasten his seat belt himself most of the time, and when he can’t, I can help him from the driver’s seat (though not while driving, of course). Yet at the same time, I don’t feel crammed. There’s some kind of weird magic in the Versa’s interior that makes this possible. How can my husband both be comfortable and hand out snacks to the kids in the back at the same time? It’s so weird!

Then there’s the cargo space in the back; it seems tiny, but it can handle an umbrella stroller and a full grocery trip, though a double stroller doesn’t fit. No one should buy the Versa to accommodate trips to Sam’s Club or Home Depot, but what the Versa can handle is a pleasant surprise. Child safety seats are easy to install without any hiccups. Maybe “Versa” means “magic” in Japanese.

There are a few things, though, that aren’t so magical. Some creature comforts are missing, most notably a console between the front seats and a vanity mirror. I know, that last one probably made you groan. It’s true; on any given day I don’t deserve a vanity mirror either because I haven’t put forth any effort to impress the other folks in the carpool lane, but is it really too much to ask to be able to verify my lip gloss is on straight? Also, the Versa’s doors close quickly and the seats butt right up to the door. My kids narrowly escaped getting their fingers caught more than a few times as they tried to close the doors on their own. I instantly invented a show-me-your-hands-when-the doors-are-closing game.

I enjoy a car I don’t have to work against, figure out or demystify, and with the Versa I can just get in, drive and be happy. Oh, and the driver’s-side window has power up and down operation. Yes!

Fundamentally, I see the Versa as a great little commuter car to get the kids to school or day care and home again. In the meantime, it can handle one or two small errands, all while getting great gas mileage. It also dodges and weaves between those bigger vehicles with ease. Perhaps “versatile” really is the best definition for the Versa.

*For more information on the Nissan Versa and its safety features, visit Cars.com.

LET’S TALK NUMBERS

Latch Connectors: 2

Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5

IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

SENSE AND STYLE

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair

Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Some

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