Nissan's smallest car is not all that small. The Versa, which is available in sedan and hatchback formats, slots in under the Sentra in the lineup. The 2012 model features a major update, with a new engine and styling.

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Nissan chose very conservative styling for the Versa, keeping it inoffensive to broaden its appeal. Although not flashy, the design has a modern touch.

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Photo by: James Martin/CNET
Nissan went to a 1.6-liter engine to maximize fuel economy. Small in displacement, this engine makes 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque. It gives the Versa real-world fuel economy in the 30s.

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The roofline drops a little bit toward the rear, but that does not impinge passenger headroom much.

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The suspension of the Versa is very basic, with independent struts in front and a torsion bar at the rear. Brakes are discs in front and drums at the rear.

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The trunk is surprisingly deep in the Versa.

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Cabin surfaces are mostly hard plastic, and going up trim levels does little to change it.

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The rear seat is basic, but survivable.

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Photo by: James Martin/CNET
At the mid, SV trim level, Nissan only makes iPod integration and a Bluetooth phone system available as an option. Navigation is available at the top, SL trim level.

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Nissan uses an electric power steering system in the Versa, which helps keep fuel economy high.

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The Bluetooth phone system is only accessible through voice command.

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Photo by: James Martin/CNET
The amber display between the analog gauges shows fuel level and temperature.

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Nissan's continuously variable transmission is the best among automakers, proving very usable and optimizing engine speed.

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The stereo is very basic, with only four speakers and limited interface options on the head unit.

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Photo by: James Martin/CNET
The buttons on the lower left let you browse the music library of a connected iPod, but it is not the most intuitive system.

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Photo by: James Martin/CNET
The phone system has a phone book feature, but it won't pull contact entries from a paired phone.

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Photo by: James Martin/CNET
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