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2010 Nissan Versa (Mike Ditz/Nissan)
2010 Nissan Versa (Mike Ditz/Nissan)

2010 Nissan Versa

Versa was a basic car with decent power Add to ...

The year 2010 was a carryover year for the Nissan Versa. Aside from some minor body restyling and the addition of a vehicle stability control system, it was much the same as the 2009 edition.

There were two body configurations: hatchback and sedan, with two engine choices: 1.6- and 1.8-litre four-cylinders. Depending upon the model, four transmissions were available: five- or six-speed manual, four-speed automatic and an continuously variable transmission (CVT). Curiously, the sedan version of the Versa did not come with a CVT.

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The CVT could feel ambiguous at certain rpms and, when power was needed for overtaking, did not “kick down” promptly like a conventional automatic transmission. It’s worth noting, however, that the CVT gave the 2010 Versa its best fuel economy; according to Natural Resources Canada’s fuel consumption guide, you would save $100 to $120 a year in fuel costs compared to the manual six-speed version.

Arguably, the best engine choice was the larger of the two, which developed 122 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque, making it one of the most powerful models in this market segment. Rivals such as the Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris, for example, featured considerably less power than the 1.8-litre Versa. For what it’s worth, the smaller engine did deliver better fuel economy in most situations – especially on the highway, but the CVT version was the thriftiest of all.

Because of its extra power, perhaps, the Versa did not feel as buzzy as a Honda Fit, for example, and those models equipped with the CVT and larger engine offered more than enough oomph to handle extra passengers and cargo. The back seats folded flat effortlessly, and there were various storage nooks and pockets throughout the car.

The five-door hatchback offered 1,427 litres of storage space with the back seat folded down, which was more than the Fit, and about on par with the Toyota Matrix, Volkswagen Golf or Mazda3 hatchback.

Although the Versa was a basic automobile, it did have its share of available extras. The upscale SL could be had with an engine block heater, anti-locking brakes, tilt steering, air conditioning, iPod connectivity and remote keyless entry.

The Sport Package added steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, fog lights, a power sunroof and various exterior extras. Nissan also offered a wide range of accessories with the Versa, including kayak roof racks, side window wind deflectors, a keyless entry keypad and interior accent lighting.

One safety recall to report with Transport Canada, and it’s a minor assembly oversight that could cause the daytime running lights to malfunction. Easily corrected by dealers and not exactly life-threatening. This glitch also applies to 2009 versions of the Versa.

To this, we can add another recall from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that has to do with aftermarket Garmin GPS systems. The batteries can overheat and possibly lead to a fire. This is an extensive recall, incidentally, and affects a wide range of manufacturers, models and products. According to Garmin, the problem originates with the supplier of these batteries; a company called Nuvi, and you can go to their website – mygarmin.com – to see if this issue affects your GPS.

NHTSA, meanwhile, has 20 technical service bulletins on file for this vintage of the Versa, and they affect things like unco-operative power door locks, difficulties closing the rear hatch in cold weather, wonky front seat mechanisms and possibly the most widespread complaint in the auto industry: headlights that fog up.

For the most part, Consumer Reports likes the 2010 Versa, but not as much as the previous year. The ’09 gets a “better than average” used car prediction, while the ’10 is just average. The climate control system and various power extras seem to be the culprits here, and comments from owners include: “Good on gas and easy to park,” “Seems underpowered,” “One of the most fun-to-drive vehicles I have ever owned” and “Would not hesitate to buy another Nissan product.”

Market research firm J.D. Power is not so kind, giving the 2010 Versa poor marks in every area but one: powertrain quality. Aside from the engine and transmission, it’s an overall fail from this organization.

The 2010 Versa has held its value well and is selling in the low to mid-teens these days. The sedan version is going for considerably less than the hatchback – around $2,000 – and the SL is roughly $1,000 pricier than the base S.

Tech specs

2010 Nissan Versa

Original Base Price: $12,698 (sedan)/$14,198 (hatchback); Black Book: $11,650 (sedan)/$12,175 (hatchback); Red Book: $7,600-$10,900

Engine: 1.6- and 1.8-litre four-cylinder

Horsepower/Torque: 107 hp/111 lb-ft for 1.6; 122 hp/127 lb-ft for 1.8

Transmission: Five- and six-speed manual, four-speed automatic, CVT

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 7.3 city/5.8 highway (CVT); regular gas

Alternatives: Mazda3, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Toyota Matrix, Kia Rondo, Volkswagen Golf

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