Car Comparison

2015 Nissan Versa vs. 2015 Chevrolet Sonic: Which Is Better?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Doug DeMuro February 2015

With the subcompact-car segment continually growing, it can be hard to choose the right model. To help you narrow down your search for a new small car, we've created a comparison between two of today's top models: the 2015 Nissan Versa and the 2015 Chevrolet Sonic. After looking at both cars in several key areas, we've named a winner, but first let's see what's new with both cars for the 2015 model year.

2015 Nissan Versa

Both Versa models, the sedan and the 5-door hatchback (dubbed the Versa Note), receive big changes this year. The sedan offers a refreshed interior and exterior, while the Versa Note offers two new trims (SR and SL) and newly available heated seats. Both Versa models also gain standard Bluetooth.

2015 Chevrolet Sonic

The Sonic makes only two changes for 2015. In addition to a new 4G Wi-Fi hot spot that's now standard in all models, the Sonic also adds its turbocharged engine as standard equipment for the upscale LTZ trim.

Reliability

Unfortunately, neither the Sonic nor the Versa stands out for reliability. The Sonic is slightly better, however, having received three circles in J.D. Power's Power Circle Ratings, indicating average reliability. The Versa received only two circles, indicating worse-than-average reliability.

When it comes to warranty length, the Sonic and the Versa are virtually identical, though the Sonic offers a slightly longer powertrain warranty. Due to this small warranty improvement and its stronger J.D. Power ratings, the Sonic takes this category.

Fuel Economy

The Chevrolet Sonic offers two engines. Base-level models (LS and LT trims) use a 138-horsepower 1.8-liter 4-cylinder, which is capable of up to 26 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. Top-end LTZ and RS trims use a turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder, which makes the same 138 hp as the standard engine but offers more torque and better gas mileage. Upgrade to the 1.4-liter turbo, and you'll see fuel economy ratings as high as 29 mpg city/40 mpg hwy with the manual transmission or 27 mpg city/37 mpg hwy with the automatic.

On the other hand, all Versa models use one engine: a lethargic 109-hp 1.6-liter 4-cylinder. Fuel economy stands at 27 mpg city/40 mpg hwy with the sedan and its continuously variable automatic transmission. The hatchback with the same transmission receives an excellent 31 mpg city/40 mpg hwy.

As a result, this category goes to the Nissan, though we admit that driving experience and acceleration is hampered in the Versa's pursuit of its excellent fuel economy figures.

Safety

The Chevrolet Sonic outperformed the Nissan Versa in government crash tests, earning a perfect 5-star overall score to the Versa's 4-star score for both sedan and hatchback models. Likewise, the Sonic outperformed the Versa in testing carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Versa earned a worrying Poor rating in the firm's challenging small front-overlap test, while the Sonic squeaked by with a Marginal score.

The Sonic also takes the lead for safety equipment. While both cars have all the basics, including side airbags, anti-lock brakes and an available backup camera, the Sonic goes above and beyond, offering GM's OnStar telematics system, lane-departure warning and a forward-collision warning system. Between its longer list of equipment and its better crash-test scores, the Sonic is easily our pick for drivers particularly interested in safety.

Technology

Despite the Versa's poor showing with such safety features as forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning, Nissan's subcompact car has a surprisingly long list of optional technology available. Consider, for example, a 6-inch touchscreen display, a navigation system with voice recognition and real-time traffic, keyless access with push-button starting, hands-free text messaging and standard Bluetooth. For an inexpensive small car, it's not bad.

Still, the Sonic is a bit better. For example, there's a 7-in screen, and the Sonic offers on-board Wi-Fi and remote ignition. GM's OnStar system also remains an important holdout over the Versa.

The Versa impresses us with its high-tech gadgets but not quite as much as the Sonic, which offers roughly the same level of gadgets and a few extras. As a result, technology goes to the small Chevy.

Value

Although the Sonic is better than the Versa in nearly every measurable aspect, there's no way around one crucial detail: The Nissan is tremendously inexpensive. It's so inexpensive, in fact, that a base-level Versa starts around $2,000 less than a base-level Sonic, which is a huge number when we're talking about cars that cost just $15,000. For reasons of base pricing alone, many shoppers will be attracted to the Versa over the Sonic.

As you add options and move through the Versa's trim levels, however, you'll notice that the Nissan's pricing starts to get a little closer to the Chevy's. While the Versa remains less expensive, even with roughly the same equipment, the Sonic still offers more safety features, better technology, a larger interior, more power and better reliability. To us, that alone justifies spending a little more for the Sonic, especially if it's only $500 or $1,000. For shoppers with price as their No. 1 priority, though, the Versa may still remain a better value.

AutoTrader's Advice

We strongly prefer the 2015 Chevrolet Sonic to the 2015 Nissan Versa. Simply put, the Sonic is better in just about every way, and while the Versa boasts slightly better fuel economy numbers, the Sonic nips at its heels despite 30 more hp and a larger interior. To us, the Versa only makes sense for shoppers who want a very inexpensive new car. Everyone else should pay a little extra and take advantage of the more modern, better-equipped Sonic.

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Certified 2015 Nissan Versa 1.6 SV
Certified 2015 Nissan Versa
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Used 2015 Nissan Versa 1.6 S
Used 2015 Nissan Versa
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Used 2015 Nissan Versa S
Used 2015 Nissan Versa
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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.
2015 Nissan Versa vs. 2015 Chevrolet Sonic: Which Is Better? - Autotrader