Over the weekend, Vera asked me to test drive the new Nissan Versa Sedan for her since the test drive was on the west coast, close to where I live. Of course I  just couldn’t just resist. I mean, how many times does a person get to drive a car before it’s even for sale? (The car will be available in August.)

So…off I went to Seattle (where, for the record, it was sunny when I arrived but started raining within hours!). I was part of a group of bloggers –blogging about everything from, well, cars to parenting to fashion and design — and we were introduced to the latest model of this car that’s been out since 2006.

The design-y people were interested in how the car looks. The car people wanted to know how it drives. The moms wanted to cut to the chase: Is it safe? Will it hold a ton of baby- and kid-support equipment? Can I make a car payment and still save for college?

Everyone was happy! (Does this photo of four Versas, taken from the Seattle Space Needle, sort of look like a happy face?)

The Versa has been a great seller for Nissan, in part because of its cost — the base model, which includes AC and a radio/CD player — is just $10,900. That’s about $3,000 dollars less than its competitors (the Hyundai Accent is $3205 more!).

If you get the car all decked out with fancier wheels and decorative touches — including NAVIGATION!, Bluetooth, USB/iPod connectivity — it’s about $16,000.

The bottom line is that not everyone can afford a $25K+ car. But they still want a new car. And the Versa is a “real” car.

So what do you get for your money?

For starters, a lot of room. One of the bloggers did the Costco toilet paper test. The result: The back seat of the Versa holds 7 of those ginormous packages. For those of us who don’t need to haul toilet paper for 1000, the back seat also secures three car seats with LATCH. Any parent or grandparent who has tried to install multiple carseats knows how frustrating in can be in a smaller back seat. Believe it or not, this car has more rear legroom than the Lexus LS460, the BMW 5-Series and even the Mercedes-Benz E-Class! It’s impressive for such a small car.

And the trunk is amazing! You could easily fit four big suitcases and a stroller. Did I tell you it is HUGE?

The Versa is super smooth and zippy on the freeway, but also hauled up some pretty steep, and soggy, hills in Seattle (I never knew the city was so hilly) and it gets 38 MPG HWY and 33 combined.

The Versa comes in some splashy colors — I’m partial to the blue, but I also loved the metallic taupe option.

Bottom line: if you’re in the market for a new car and don’t want to mortgage your or your children’s futures to get one, check out the Versa. It’s fun to drive, super cute and has TONS of room.

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