2014 Nissan Versa Note SV

New for the 2014 model year, the entry-level Nissan Versa Note improves wildly on the previous-generation Versa hatchback.

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2014 Nissan Versa Note SV

Unfortunately, so has the rest of the compact hatchback class. Even though the Versa Note is as good as it's ever been, it now finds itself compared with the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic RS, and compact from Hyundai and Kia. Faced with this new competition, the Note still lags behind.

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2014 Nissan Versa Note SV

One of the first things I noted about the Note upon its arrival in the Car Tech garage was just how similar it looks to the second-generation Honda Fit.

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2014 Nissan Versa Note SV

Our SL model upgrades over the lower trim levels with fog lights.

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2014 Nissan Versa Note SV

Despite looking smaller than the previous generation in photos, the Note is actually a smidgen larger. However, it's still a fairly narrow vehicle, which is good for squeezing down narrow city lanes.

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2014 Nissan Versa Note SV

Though small in stature, the Versa Note is big on interior volume.

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Five doors

The tallish roof gives front and rear passengers a good amount of headroom that, without a moonroof option, goes completely unobstructed.

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Plenty of space

Even with the front seats adjusted for average-to-tall passengers, the Versa Note's second row still offers plenty of legroom.

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Optional 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels

The SL package also upsizes the 15-inch steel wheels to 16-inch aluminum alloy rollers. They're shod in low-rolling-resistance tires, so don't expect amazing handling.

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Halogen headlamps

Don't expect fancy Xenon HID projector headlamps, either. Though not flashy, the standard halogen reflectors still get the job done.

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2014 Nissan Versa Note SV

From a packaging and exterior design, the Versa Note isn't half bad, but that's mostly because it's copying the best in the business.

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1.6-liter engine

Under the hood, you'll find a 1.6-liter gasoline engine that uses direct-injection technology to sip fuel as precisely as possible. Output is stated at 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque.

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Nissan Pure Drive

The power train falls under Nissan's Pure Drive flag. Like Mazda's "Skyactiv Technology," this is basically a branding trademark that merely signals the automaker's commitment to reducing consumption and emissions.

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Xtronic CVT

The small engine is paired with a thrifty continuously variable transmission that sends torque to the front wheels. Fuel economy is estimated at 35 mpg combined, which is also what I averaged during my testing.

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Intelligent keyless entry

Optional Intelligent Keyless Entry pairs a wireless transponder with door handle buttons for easy entry.

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Push-button ignition

The SL package's push-button starter allows drivers to keep their keys stowed when they hit the road.

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Economy car interior

The second thing that I noted about the Note was just how cheap the interior materials felt. Hollow, hard plastics rattled and squeaked over bumps and imperfect asphalt.

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Steering-wheel controls

The steering-wheel controls are, for the most part, well placed. However, the volume and hands-free controls were hard to reach without readjusting my hands on the wheel.

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Heated front seats

Heated front seats -- part of the SL package -- are nice, but a few nice features don't redeem the rest of the low-quality interior.

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Instrument cluster

Instrumentation is simple and easy to read.

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Climate controls

Climate controls are also simple, bundled together in a small pod at the base of the dashboard.

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5.8-inch color touch display

The SL Technology package bumps the infotainment system up to a 5.8-inch color touch display. The package also adds a lot of optional audio and infotainment features that we'd have liked to see made standard.

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NissanConnect with Navigation

The Tech package adds a decent turn-by-turn navigation system with traffic. You can input destinations with voice commands, but the system can be sluggish and forces you to input addresses one element at a time.

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SD card-based map storage

Maps for the navigation system are stored on an SD card that is tucked into the receiver's face.

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Around View Monitor

The best feature added by the SL Technology package is the Around View Monitor.

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Around View Monitor

Stitching together feeds from cameras tucked under the side mirrors, in the front bumper, and on the rear hatch, the Around View Monitor gives drivers a bird's-eye view of the area around the Versa Note when parking.

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2014 Nissan Versa Note SV

Even without the optional rearview or Around View cameras, the Versa Note's generous greenhouse offers pretty good visibility.

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Hatch in the back

The most compelling reason to choose the Versa Note over the Versa sedan is the hatchback, which makes the compact car much more versatile.

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2014 Nissan Versa Note SV

While I wouldn't mind living with the Versa Note, there are plenty of better options in the class -- each offering better performance, tech, or cabin comfort for your money.

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