Many carmakers don’t release a new version of a hybrid or electric car every year, so we have been taking the opportunity between big releases to test a few green vehicles you might not think of when shopping for a new car. First up, the 2014 Nissan Versa Note, was chosen because it is small and efficient at 40 mpg, but has four full doors, plenty of legroom (best in class, according to Nissan) and a generous hatchback trunk, making it much more practical as a daily driver than most people can expect from the smaller, space-scrimping hybrids. We took a Peacock Blue Versa Note to the local library for a book signing. Why? Because it was this author’s book signing, which meant we needed to haul a large banner, a case of paperback books, plus various other supplies to the venue; a full car's worth of gear.
The Versa handled the back roads smoothly, and what struck us most was how well-made the little car felt. The steering wheel has the feel of a much more expensive car, and the vehicle comes with navigation, push start button, and all-around exterior vehicle camera to help you see what’s happening on all sides while parking. Perhaps our favorite little add-on was the seat extender for short or long legs in the driver’s seat, which makes the Versa workable for a variety of people; something that can be a tall order for some small cars with limited seating positions.
The hatchback has a small lower compartment for flat items, but its best feature is how deep it is—about as big as a hatchback ever gets (and also best in class). It fit all our stuff with room to spare, and the Versa Note drives well and efficiently, while being extremely quiet.
Forty mpg and a base price of under $14,000 make the Nissan Versa Note a better choice for efficiency, practicality, price, and even looks than some other hybrids. The car is available with a 5-speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic. Some models come with Bluetooth and all the extra goodies, and with 109 horsepower, any model feels adequate to highway or city driving at this size vehicle. According to IHS Automotive, the Versa is America’s bestselling entry-level vehicle for the past five years, and we can see why.
Lead Image via Laura K. Cowan