High Points

Though it has cheaper rear drum brakes — the norm for this class — the Versa stops confidently, with strong, linear pedal feel. Ride comfort is another plus. The last Versa was a soft car, and I'm glad Nissan didn't change the formula. The suspension picks up some highway rhythms, but for an economy car it isolates major bumps well. On broken pavement the Versa stays connected to the road, despite its low-tech semi-independent rear suspension. In a segment characterized by firm-riding cars such as the Fit Sport and Fiat 500, the Versa's comfort stands out.

At 30/38 mpg city/highway with the automatic, the Versa's highway gas mileage falls just short of the vaunted 40 mpg boasted by the Fiesta, Accent, Rio and Sonic. But EPA combined mileage is 33 mpg, which matches the Fiesta and automatic Accent. (As of this writing, combined EPA figures for the Rio and Sonic are still pending.) The EPA rates the stick-shift Versa S at 30 mpg overall.

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