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2018 Nissan Versa: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader August 2017

The 2018 Nissan Versa subcompact sedan is the logical choice for those seeking small-car pricing and fuel economy in a roomy, no frills vehicle. The Versa's low base price helps it stand out in a crowded sea of competitors, as do its excellent reliability ratings. The versatile Versa offers a number of trim levels, ranging from the basic S sedan, with its crank windows and manual mirrors, to the nicely equipped SV Special Edition. However, with the loss of the SL trim this year, those seeking more upscale features such as navigation, smartphone integration and leather seating will have to shop cars like the Ford Fiesta and Chevy Sonic. Those seeking advanced driver assists should look to the Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris.

Nissan understands that the primary target for this car is likely to be a first-time buyer, so it wants to impress upon them the Versa's value and economy, as well as its very reasonable sticker price. Those willing to spend a bit more can have a nicely equipped small sedan with such nice features as cruise control, a rearview monitor and 5-inch color display audio.

Although visually unremarkable, what makes the Versa so attractive is that it doesn't cost much, holds its value fairly well, delivers excellent fuel economy and has an abundance of space for both passengers and cargo. In fact, the Versa features 90 cu ft. of interior volume. Impressively, there's more rear legroom than in a BMW 5 Series or a Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

What's New for 2018?

All 2018 Nissan Versas gain adjustable front-seat head restraints, map lamps and variable intermittent wipers as standard equipment. The SL trim is dropped this year.

What We Like

Spacious interior; low base price; excellent fuel economy with continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT); standard Bluetooth

What We Don't

S trim is painfully basic; some parts feel flimsy compared to competition; noisy drivetrain; quirky styling; no advanced audio or driver-assist features

How Much?

$12,875-$17,000

Fuel Economy

The 2018 Nissan Versa is powered by a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 109 horsepower. Customers can choose one of two transmissions: a 5-speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic. With the 5-speed manual, the Versa is rated at 27 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Cars equipped with the CVT attain the best fuel economy, rated at an impressive 31 mpg city/39 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Versa is offered in three trim levels: S, S Plus and SV. Each trim uses the same 1.6-liter engine but offers different transmission choices and fuel economy figures.

The base S ($12,875) includes air conditioning, map lights, intermittent wipers, a tilt steering wheel, a 5-speed manual transmission, Bluetooth with steering-wheel touch controls, power mirrors, 15-in steel wheels with covers, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input, a tachometer and manual windows and door locks. A 4-speed automatic transmission adds $1,500 to the bottom line.

The S Plus ($15,880) adds a CVT automatic transmission, a rear spoiler and cruise control.

The SV ($16,605) adds upgraded seat cloth, a 6-way manual driver's seat, a driver's armrest, power windows and locks, remote trunk release with key-fob activation, keyless entry with illuminated entry, USB/iPod controls and a 60/40-split folding rear seat.

There's only one option package this year, that being the SV Special Edition package. For a mere $500, the Special Edition package adds 15-in alloy wheels, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, chrome exterior accents, 5-in color display audio, streaming Bluetooth audio, SiriusXM satellite radio and a rearview monitor.

Inside, the Versa offers 90.2 cu ft. of passenger volume and a 14.9 cu-ft. trunk that, on the SV trim, can be expanded using the 60/40-split folding rear seat.

Safety

The Versa has front-seat-mounted side-impact supplemental airbags and roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental airbags. In addition, the Versa is designed with Zone Body construction, with front and rear crumple zones, an energy-absorbing steering column, hood buckle creases and safety stops, and pipe-style side-door guard beams. Nissan also includes vehicle dynamic control and traction control on all Versa models.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Nissan Versa an overall good score, with four out of five stars in the front and side-impact crash tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn't tested the 2018 Versa, but it gave the 2017 model good marks in the offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests.

Behind the Wheel

Driving the Versa feels rather average. The CVT allows power to flow to the front wheels fairly smoothly. The engine is short on horsepower but tries its best to keep the little vehicle gliding along at highway speeds. We can't really complain about the driving characteristics of the Versa given its affordability, but when it's driven back-to-back with the competition, the Versa's drawbacks are revealed.

The Versa feels light and flimsy in a market of surprisingly substantial subcompacts. As basic transportation, the Versa is fine. Alongside the newest offerings from its competitors, however, it pales in comparison. Aside from interior volume, the Versa doesn't offer many features that help it stand out.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Chevrolet Sonic -- The Sonic might be one of the best-driving vehicles in the subcompact market. An optional turbocharger -- not available on the base model -- adds to driving pleasure but also to the cost.

2018 Kia Rio -- The Kia Rio is spacious, good-looking and energetic. Plus, it comes with a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty.

2018 Ford Fiesta -- The Fiesta's base price is the highest in this group, but it gets better fuel economy than the Versa, and there's a performance-oriented ST version for an even sportier ride.

Used Hyundai Elantra -- A used 2012-2015 Hyundai Elantra costs about the same as a loaded Versa but gives you more power, more room and more features. Plus, if you purchase a certified pre-owned Elantra, you'll get the remainder of Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Autotrader's Advice

While we admire the base model's low price, it's too Spartan for most tastes. We would go with the SV with the Special Edition package, which offers the features most of us have become accustomed to, such as power windows, keyless entry and power locks.

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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.
2018 Nissan Versa: New Car Review - Autotrader