As one of the lowest-priced cars you can buy, the 2019 Nissan Versa sedan isn’t some cheaply assembled throwaway, it’s nice small car with a comfortable ride, a huge back seat and trunk, as well as some pretty respectable fuel economy figures. Midway through 2018, Nissan added a new audio system with a 7-inch touchscreen and a rearview monitor, helping the Versa remain competitive with cars like the Hyundai Accent, the Chevy Sonic and the Kia Rio. However, those seeking features like leather seating, navigation or advanced driver assists should look to the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris or any of above-mentioned competitors.
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 desirable features as cruise control, Apple CarPlay and push-button start.
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 some midsize luxury sedans.
What’s New for 2019?
The 2019 Nissan Versa SV Special Edition gains Intelligent Key with push-button start, Easy Fill tire alert, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
What We Like
Spacious interior; low base price; excellent fuel economy with continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT); Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
What We Don’t
The S trim is painfully basic; some parts feel flimsy compared to competition; noisy drivetrain; quirky styling; no advanced collision mitigation features; poor small overlap crash test scores
The 2019 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 ($13,255) 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 7-in touchscreen and auxiliary input, a rearview monitor, a tachometer and manual windows and door locks.
The S Plus ($15,395) adds a CVT automatic transmission, a rear spoiler and cruise control.
The SV ($16,885) 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 $800, the Special Edition package adds 15-in alloy wheels, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, chrome exterior accents, Intelligent Key with push-button start, Easy Fill tire alert, SiriusXM and NissanConnect featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
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.
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 gives Versa good marks in the side-impact and roof-strength crash tests, but a Poor rating in the small front overlap crash test.
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
2019 Chevrolet Sonic — The Sonic might be one of the best-driving vehicles in the subcompact market. The sedan’s turbocharged engine adds to driving pleasure but not the cost.
2019 Kia Rio — The Kia Rio is spacious, good-looking and energetic. Plus, it comes with a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty.
2019 Toyota Yaris iA — The Yaris iA is actually a rebadged Mazda2 no longer sold in this country. As such, it offers Mazda refinement and handling backed by Toyota’s dealer network, plus driver assists like low-speed autonomous emergency braking.
Used Hyundai Elantra — A used 2014–2018 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.
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, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.