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Eric's Autos: 2018 Nissan Versa

Eric Peters on

One hundred and nine horsepower is plenty -- if you're paying attention.

The guy next to you in his 300-horsepower whatever-it-is probably isn't. He is probably texting -- or just unfocused, his mind on other things. If you're ready when the light goes green and he's not, then you'll win.

Nine times out of ten, you'll win in a car like the Versa -- if you're prepared and making use of everything you've got. This entails actually driving , of course -- and that is an activity actively being discouraged.

Besides, it is more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.

And for the record, a nine second time from zero to 60 mph isn't slow. It's a good two seconds quicker than a Toyota Prius hybrid.

At the Curb

The Versa is a very practical sedan -- for its size and otherwise.

To get a handle on this, have a look at some key Versa stats compared with the best-selling midsized car in the country, Toyota's Camry sedan. The Versa is 175.4 inches long overall, whereas the Camry is 192.7 inches long, a difference of less than 2 feet. But the Versa's front- and back-seat legroom, 41.8 inches and 37 inches respectively, are within a hair of the much-larger-on-the-outside Camry's 42.1 inches up front and 38 inches in the back.

Both cars have about the same trunk space, too: 14.9 cubic feet for the Versa versus 15.1 cubic feet for the Camry. But the Camry's base price, $23,495, is almost twice the Versa's.

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Also practical are the standard 15-inch steel wheels, which are sturdier than the aluminum wheels almost all new cars now come standard with now -- chiefly because they shave a little curb weight and they look snazzier than steel wheels with plastic trim covers. But steel wheels stand up better to potholes, and ride quality is usually better on 15s, too -- because there's more shock-absorbing tire between you and the road than there is in a car riding on 16- or 17-inch wheels with short -- and therefore, stiffer -- sidewall tires.

The Rest

One of the few needful things you don't get in the base $12k trim Versa is rear-seat backs that fold flat; these come standard in the in the higher-up trims. But even the higher-up trims are steals on wheels compared with the cost of most new cars.

The Bottom Line

You pay less but get more.

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Eric's new book, "Don't Get Taken for a Ride!" will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2018 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

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