Used Car Review

2012 Nissan Versa: Used Car Review

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author photo by Ron Sessions April 2015

The 2012 Nissan Versa comes in two versions: an all-new 4-door sedan and a 5-door hatchback carried over from the previous year. They're completely different cars sharing the same name. The sedan offers value with good fuel economy, comfortable seats, a roomy interior, a big trunk and up-to-date infotainment. However, it's noisy, uses a lot of cheap-looking plastic and is only available with a barely adequate 109-horsepower 1.6-liter 4-cylinder. The hatchback offers Euro-inspired charm, much nicer interior fitments, great cargo versatility with the rear seats folded and a peppier 122-hp 1.8-liter 4-cylinder, although its fuel economy isn't as thrifty as the sedan's.

The Nissan Versa is the best-selling subcompact car. Safety gear includes stability and traction control, dual front airbags, front-seat side airbags, overhead airbags and anti-lock front drum/rear disc brakes. The Versa's mix of practicality, roominess and fuel efficiency make it a solid choice for first-time buyers.

What We Like

Low cost; spacious back seat and trunk of sedan; compliant ride quality; comfortable front seats; cargo versatility of hatchback; sedan fuel economy

What We Don't

Cheap-looking interior plastic of sedan; wind and road noise; mushy steering; engine drones under acceleration with continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT); no telescopic steering wheel; no padded armrests in sedan

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2012 Versa sedan is equipped with a 1.6-liter, double overhead camshaft (DOHC) 16-valve 4-cylinder engine. Output is a scant 109 hp, and it develops 107 lb-ft of torque. It burns regular unleaded gas and has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 27 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway with the 5-speed manual transmission and a 30 mpg city/38 hwy rating with the Nissan Xtronic automatic CVT.

The 2012 Versa hatchback comes with a 1.8-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder rated at 122 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque. It also runs on regular unleaded and is EPA-rated at 26 mpg city/31 mpg hwy with the 6-speed manual transmission, 24 mpg city/32 mpg hwy with the 4-speed automatic and 28 mpg city/34 mpg hwy when hooked to the CVT automatic.

Standard Features & Options

The 2012 Versa 4-door sedan is available in 1.6 S, 1.6 SV and 1.6 SL trims.

The Versa S is basic, equipped with the 109-hp 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, suede cloth seats, air conditioning, a 2-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an auxiliary input port, a trip computer, front buckets and a fixed bench rear seat, a tilt steering wheel and 15-inch steel wheels. Options include cruise control, a trunk light, a 4-speaker stereo, a rear spoiler and the CVT automatic.

1.6 SV upgrades include power windows, mirrors and door locks, chrome grille accents, body-color side mirrors, woven-cloth seats, cruise control, remote keyless entry with a panic alarm, a 4-speaker audio system, a remote trunk release, a trunk light and electronic gauges. SV options include Bluetooth phone integration, MP3/iPod USB connectivity, a map light and a passenger vanity mirror.

The best-trimmed sedan is the 1.6 SL, which features standard 15-in alloy wheels, fog lights, variable-intermittent wipers, a security system, a split-folding rear seat, chromed inside door handles, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, USB/iPod ports, map lights and steering-wheel audio controls. Optional is a Tech package with navigation, SiriusXM radio and NavTraffic, and a 5-in color touchscreen infotainment display.

The 2012 Versa hatchback is available in 1.8S and 1.8SL trims. The Versa 1.8S is equipped with the 122-hp 1.8-liter 4-cylinder, air conditioning, power door locks, mirrors and windows, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an MP3 decoder, suede cloth seats, a tilt steering wheel, variable intermittent wipers, padded door armrests, a rear wiper and a split folding rear seat. The Versa 1.8S options include cruise control, keyless entry, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, an iPod port, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, an overhead console, a tonneau cover and 15-in alloy wheels, and a 5-in touchscreen with navigation and SiriusXM.

Upgrading to 1.8 SL adds woven cloth seats, a rear spoiler, fog lamps, lower body side sills, sport fascias, remote keyless entry, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, 16-in alloy wheels, a 180-watt upgrade 6-speaker stereo with an iPod interface, Bluetooth phone connectivity, illuminated vanity mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, padded front- and rear-seat center armrests, a cargo security cover, map lights and an overhead console. A navigation system with a 5-in touchscreen and SiriusXM is optional.


The Versa has been the top seller among subcompact cars, so there should be a good supply of clean, low-mileage examples to choose from.

For a better idea of the 2012 Versa's price range, check out, then search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recalls for the 2012 Versa:

The overhead airbags may not deploy in a crash, increasing injury risk.

The automatic transmission can be shifted into gear without depressing the brake, increasing crash risk.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car for free.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

The 2012 Nissan Versa sedan received a NHTSA 4-star rating overall, with three stars for frontal impacts, four for side impacts and four for rollovers. The 2012 Versa hatchback received three stars for frontal impacts, four for rollovers and no overall or side-impact ratings.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2012 Versa sedan a Good rating for side impacts, roof strength, head restraints, seat crash performance and moderate-overlap front impacts. However, the Versa earned a Poor rating for small-overlap front impacts. The 2012 Versa hatchback received Good ratings for moderate-overlap front impacts and head restraints and seats, but Acceptable scores for side-impacts and roof strength.

The 2012 Versa came with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion-perforation warranty.

Nissan certified pre-owned (CPO) cars can't have more than 80,000 miles on the odometer and must be under 6 years old. Every CPO Versa undergoes a 150-point inspection and gets a Carfax report. The Nissan CPO warranty extends the original powertrain warranty to 7 years/100,000 miles and includes 24-hour roadside assistance.

Other Cars to Consider

2012 Ford Fiesta -- Also available as a 4-door sedan or a 5-door hatchback, the fun-to-drive Fiesta delivers sporty handling, premium interior materials and good fuel economy (up to 40 EPA mpg hwy). However, rear seat room is cramped, the dash is busy and the 6-speed automatic transmission is jerky.

2012 Honda Fit -- This subcompact 5-door hatch is also fun to drive with its 117-hp 1.5-liter 4-cylinder, and it offers more interior space than other small cars. No sedan version is offered.

Autotrader's Advice

The Versa sedan is roomy and costs less, but the Versa hatchback is better equipped and a cheerier place to spend time in. Plus, the hatchback offers better cargo versatility. The fuel-saving automatic CVT takes some getting used to because of the disconnected feel between the engine and road speed. Make sure the Versa you're looking at has seen obvious care and maintenance and has had all safety recalls performed. Also, when available, look for a Nissan CPO car.

Find a Nissan Versa for sale

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2012 Nissan Versa: Used Car Review - Autotrader