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2016 Nissan Versa Overview

You won’t get a lot of frills with the 2016 Nissan Versa sedan, but if you're looking for a cheap commute or for your kid’s first car, it may be just the ticket. This 5-passenger compact 4-door offers little in the way of driving panache with its lazy acceleration, distracting engine noise, and relative lack of creature comforts. On the plus side, though, the Versa is inexpensive, and you’ll get to cruise (albeit slowly) right on by most of the gas stations in town on a consistent basis. Most in the automotive media describe the Versa as the cheapest new automobile sold in the U.S.; but while it may be long on value, it comes up somewhat short of most rivals in its class as far as what’s expected of a brand new car.

In any case, the 2016 Versa lineup again consists of the base S, the midlevel S Plus, the up-featured SV, and the flagship SL. All trims are offered only with front-wheel-drive (FWD), but they have a hint of stylishness and an unexpectedly roomy rear seat. There’s also a hefty 15 cubic feet of trunk space that can be increased with the fold-down rear seatback available on the SV and SL trims. But after a few significant tweaks for the 2015 model year, the 2016 Versa offers only a few upgrades worth mentioning, including new body-color outside mirrors, rear audio speakers, and a standard leather-wrapped steering wheel in the top-shelf SL trim.

The 2016 Versa is once again powered by a 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder engine with 109 hp and 107 lb-ft of torque. There are 3 available transmissions: the base Versa S totes a standard 5-speed manual, the higher trims use a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT), and the entry-level S has an optional 4-speed automatic as well. Estimated mileage in the S remains 27 mpg city/36 highway/30 combined with the manual and 26/35/30 with the automatic. Versas equipped with the CVT get an impressive 31/40/35, though you should be advised that virtually all reviewers find them to be disturbingly noisy.

Bearing in mind the fact that the 2016 Versa is Spartan, to say the least, look for all versions but the flagship SL trim to sport 16-inch steel wheels, cloth upholstery, and a tilt-only steering wheel. All Versa trims, including the SL, feature standard air conditioning and a CD/MP3 player that now boasts 4 speakers instead of 2. Each 2016 Versa trim also returns toting standard Bluetooth hands-free calling.

Moving up to the 2016 Versa S Plus, expect such added perks as a rear spoiler, premium cloth upholstery, cruise control, full power accessories, split-folding rear seatbacks, and a USB port added to the stereo, while the SV also boasts premium cloth upholstery, full power accessories, and a USB port. The pinnacle SL trim adds standard 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear-view camera, smartphone apps (including Bluetooth-interfaced text messaging capability), satellite radio, voice-activated navigation, and a 5.8-inch touchscreen display.

In keeping with the Versa’s less-than-luxurious tradition, options are pretty much limited to dealer-installed accessories like splash guards, illuminated kick plates, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with remote garage door opener.

Standard safety equipment aboard the Versa for 2016 includes 4-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, front and rear head-protection airbags, and tire pressure monitoring. The flagship SL also sports standard turn-signal-integrated mirrors, front fog/driving lights, a remote antitheft alarm, and an upgraded tire-pressure monitoring system (Nissan’s Easy-Fill tire-pressure alert feature). The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2016 Versa 4 out of 5 stars in overall safety testing, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives this compact Nissan 4-door its worst rating of Poor in the newly instituted small-overlap frontal-offset test.

The 2016 Versa is in dealer showrooms right now, but before rushing out to buy one for yourself or the kids, you may want to check out more expensive rivals like Chevy’s Sonic, Ford’s Fiesta, Kia’s Rio, and Hyundai’s Accent.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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