Versa

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2018 Nissan Versa Overview

There was once a time when buying a new car on a budget meant giving up some basic amenities, leading to the term “Econo-Box.” In these bargain-basement rides, there was not even the option for certain upgrades. But the 2018 Nissan Versa is an extremely affordable subcompact car that is not only comfortable enough for the daily commute, but also offers modern features like a reversing camera and voice-controlled texting. Have we mentioned that it’s one of the least expensive new cars on the market today?

The Versa features a rather traditional sedan layout, providing plenty of cabin and 14.9 cubic feet of trunk space. Nissan also offers the Versa Note hatchback, which is not covered in this preview. As automakers move to more ergonomic compact car layouts, the more conventional sedan silhouette is a refreshing option.

Despite its compact size, it has big-car features, like long headlights and taillights and a grille that roughly matches the size of the larger Nissan Altima. The upright layout gives the Versa a massive windshield and large side windows. The result is fantastic visibility while on the road.

The conventional theme is continued in the cabin, where the Versa has simple, easy-to-use controls. The large instrument panel dials gives the Versa an upscale feel, and the simplicity of the climate controls is almost a throwback element.

The 2018 Versa is available in three trims: S, S Plus, and SV. What the Versa has in cabin space and versatility, it lacks in standard features—it comes with the territory at its exceptionally low price point. All trims come standard with 15-inch steel wheels with covers, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, a four-speaker stereo with speed-sensitive volume control, and an auxiliary audio input. The S Plus adds a couple items—essentially a rear spoiler and cruise control.

Despite technically being the range-topping trim, the SV doesn’t add much. It does include chrome door handles, upgraded cloth swatches, remote keyless entry, USB input, and a 60/40 split-fold rear bench as opposed to the S and S Plus, which feature a fixed rear bench. The SV also comes with “Fine Vision” instrumentation, contributing to the previously mentioned upscale feel inside the cabin.

For 2018, Nissan is offering the SV Special Edition package on the SV trim. On top of what is offered on the SV, it adds 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels, fog lights, and additional chrome exterior accents. Inside, the Special Edition adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded Piano-black console lid, and an upgraded 5-inch color display with Bluetooth streaming audio capability, reversing camera, and hands-free text messaging.

The Versa has a single engine option—a 1.6-liter inline-4, sending 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. The base S trim comes with a 5-speed manual transmission, while the S Plus and SV come with a continuously variable transmission, or CVT.

The Versa’s steering is well-weighted and the suspension is set up for an artful blend of cornering and comfort. These qualities make it an ideal choice for a commuter car that blends comfort for sitting in traffic and capability for when the road opens up.

Fuel economy for the Versa with the 5-speed manual is 27 mpg city, 36 highway, 30 combined. The Versa with the CVT returns an impressive fuel economy of 31, 39, 34.

The Versa comes standard with front and side impact airbags, LATCH child seat anchoring system, vehicle dynamics control, traction control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system with the easy-fill alert. When you are filling the tires, the Versa can sense the tire pressure and honk the horn twice when you’ve filled the tires to the recommended pressure.

The 2018 Versa has not yet been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but the vehicle is largely carried over from the 2017 model, which earned four out of five stars in NHTSA crash testing and an overall score of Good in IIHS tests. Despite its good crash scores, however, the Versa lacks many of the latest safety technologies, like forward collision avoidance or adaptive cruise control.

With a base price of $11,990, the 2018 Nissan Versa is one of the most inexpensive new cars available today. The Versa S starts at $14,130, and the range-topping Versa SV starts at $15,720—still well under just about every other new car on the market.

Given its extremely low base price, the Versa can be forgiven for some of its content omissions, though fact the split-fold bench is an optional feature is a bit galling. But if you opt for the SV or Special Edition, you’ll find features that you would not expect in such an economical small car. If your goal is getting from Point A to Point B with minimal hassle and minimal expenses, few cars can match the attributes of the 2018 Nissan Versa.

Updated

From open-wheel racecars to specialty off-road vehicles, George Kennedy has driven it all. A career automotive journalist, George has been a contributor, editor, and/or producer at some of the most respected publications and outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Autoblog.com, Hemmings Classic Wheels, BoldRide.com, the Providence Journal, and WheelsTV.

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Nissan Versa Questions

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