Price-conscious consumers will enjoy the 2013 Nissan Versa’s price point, excellent gas mileage and roominess.
The Versa has been around since 2007. Originally offered as a hatchback, the sedan model that was introduced later the same year has become a hit in the U.S. Nissan’s goal then, as now, has been to produce a car that offers excellent gas mileage and lots of passenger space, all at a price point that won’t strain the purse strings. The formula continues to work for Nissan and consumers.
Functional best describes the Versa’s external design. It’s a subcompact car that carries itself like a sedan, eliminating the styling elements one expects with a sedan in order to create interior space. Thus, the Versa is defined by a tall profile and high roof-line. Bye-bye sporty.
But the car is not boxy, and it slips through the air nicely with an excellent 0.31 degree drag co-efficient. In other words, the Versa won’t be fighting the wind and blowing around the road as can happen with cars in this class.
If a head-turning exterior matters to you, the Versa’s look will leave you cold. But if you’ll jump inside to avoid the cold, you’ll find plenty space to entice you. We rate it an 8 because its functional design achieves its interior goals.
Open the door—any door—and the backseat grabs your eyes. It’s huge for a subcompact, and makes a couple cars in the next class up jealous. Up to three adults can fit comfortably with legroom.
Through in a larger-than-average sized trunk (14.8 cubic feet), and the Versa can deliver people and equipment where they need to be. Families will enjoy the room their children are afforded; car-poolers will appreciate not having to eat their knees on the way to work.
Moving to the front, things are still good. The instrumentation is large and intuitive, and the seats are good for short trips. Because the wheel doesn’t telescope, drivers may find longer trips slightly uncomfortable—how much depends on your own dimensions. Some complain that the interior is plastic-laden with an overtly inexpensive look. Perhaps, but most buyers find that trading aesthetics for leg room and a lower price tag a good bargain.
The Versa is not a performance car. Hence the 1.6 Liter engine and no turbo. Still, the motor’s 109 HP and 107 pounds per foot of torque are sufficient to the task.
The suspension is set up for comfort over performance, so the ride for a subcompact is remarkably smooth. The trade-off, of course, is handling, which lacks just a bit. The car’s CVT evens out the ride and keeps transitions smooth.
As important to the owner is that the CVT really improves gas mileage, allowing the car to push 40 mph on the highway. You don’t get a lot of pop from the engine, so reaching highway speeds on on-ramps can take longer than you may desire. But once there, the ride treats you nicely.
Here, the Versa is lagging. The upside, of course, is that technology is costly. Omitting it keeps the price down. Still, having to purchase the SV or SL just to have an MP3 decoder feels a bit too aggressive. Plus, the S limits owners to two speakers. Top-of-the line owners get four.
Also, you won’t find fancy touch screens (or any screen, unless you purchase the SL model and buy the optional review camera). We could go on, but it doesn’t seem appropriate. At this price point, we’ll happily trade gadgetry for space and a smooth ride.
Nissan may have shaved corners on exterior design and gadgetry, but its safety features are sound.
Each of the four trim sizes are equipped with occupant sensing airbags, overhead airbag, electronic stability, traction control, ABS brakes, dual front side airbags, dual front impact airbags, and brake assist. In IIHS crash testing, the car receives a “good” rating on all tests except for the small overlap front test, where it received a poor. The grading range is good, acceptable, marginal, and poor.
With a new price tag of $11,900 to $16,800, the Versa is an affordable car with a pricing range that doesn’t offer a lot of room to fall. That being said, the number of Versas on the market does negatively affect the used-car price.
For the budget conscious who need space, the Nissan Versa has a great deal to offer. The exterior, while uninspiring, is nonetheless practical and clean. Inside, passengers will find plenty of room for heads and knees, which more than makes up for the relatively limited technology gadgetry options. For families hauling people around town, and for commuters looking for a spacious ride and good gas mileage, the Versa is a good choice.