2010 Nissan Versa 1.8 SL Hatchback

The bright blue hue and upright profile of this Versa reminded me of our Four Seasons Honda Fit Sport, but I'd argue that the similarities end there. Both cars run roughly $19,000 and include navigation, but the Versa has the little Honda outclassed. At this price point, Nissan adds other features like a sunroof, satellite radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and keyless entry/ignition.

Not found on a spec chart, however, is the Versa's ability to feel like a much more mature automobile. Wind noise is relatively well insulated, the suspension isn't rock-hard, and the CVT does a commendable job of pairing the 1.8-liter I-4 with a drive ratio that keeps it from buzzing endlessly on the highway. There's also the matter of the cabin-no, it doesn't have the Fit's nifty flip-and-fold seating, but Nissan imbues the Versa with much classier materials throughout. The seating has a really nice three-dimensional weave pattern, while plastics on the upper door panels and armrests are soft and very nicely grained.

There are many ways one can spend $19,000 on a subcompact hatchback these days, but it's hard to argue that the Versa isn't the best way to do so. It will be interesting, however, to see if that remains the case once Ford brings its new Fiesta to North American showrooms.

Evan McCausland, Web Producer

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