By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 5.7
After a bruising bout with the economic realities of a bad recession, many Americans are moving to minimize their cost of living. That means giving up the big SUV for something more practical and fuel efficient. But, thanks to cars like the 2011 Nissan Versa, consumers don't have to give up comfort, room and technology. "For the first time in many years," said a Nissan senior marketing manager, many shoppers are "giving serious consideration" to smaller automobiles. These marketing folks detect a "void" in the sub-$14,000 price range, noting that a new generation of young people, known as "echo boomers," will reach driving age soon. Billed as a "no-compromise" value-priced offering that reaches beyond basic amenities, the Versa offers class-leading horsepower and torque, along with a host of unique features and generous interior space.
The 2011 Nissan Versa leads the small-car pack in spaciousness, which is worth considering if you carry passengers in the back seat. Standing tall in both dimensions and refinement, it may also tempt those who appreciate the smoothness of a CVT, which promises 34 miles per gallon on the highway (according to EPA fuel-economy estimates).
Changes for the 2011 Nissan Versa are limited to the addition of a six-disc CD changer on the 1.8 S Sedan and anti-lock brakes on the 1.6 Sedan (except base.)
Driving Impressions When equipped, Nissan's Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is as smooth as they come. Almost no engine noise is noticeable in ordinary driving and you hear only a tolerable light...snarl during hard acceleration. The Versa's acceleration rivals that of competitors with conventional automatics, although, like most small cars, it's not particularly quick going up hills. Reacting capably on curvy roads, it feels quite confident in the corners and exhibits good stability on expressways. Although the well-controlled ride is pleasant on good surfaces, on rougher roads the occupants may feel a lot of surface imperfections, but few will be particularly troubling. The instrument panel has deep-set gauges that are easy to read.
Affordable Navigation System
Costing just a bit more than a really good portable navigation device, Nissan's newest navigation radio offers the added benefit of XM Satellite Radio and real-time traffic updates. The controls are easy to understand and operate and the 5-inch color screen provides large, legible directions; it's also an unlikely target for smash-and-grab thieves.
Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT):
Nissan has been a leader in CVT installations, which substitute a belt and twin variable-diameter pulleys for the usual gears. The result is exceptionally smooth, linear and rewarding operation – once the driver gets accustomed to the fact that no gear changes will be taking place.
The Versa provides considerably more knee and foot space than many larger automobiles, and front and rear headroom are also abundant. Seats that are close to "chair-height" give impressive comfort, and double French-seam stitching on the upholstery is but one indicator of careful attention to detail. The compact rear suspension results in a low, flat cargo floor, and the front seats are nearly as large as a Maxima's. As in so many smaller cars, the center rear seating position is not the most comfortable.Exterior
The tidy Versa succeeds at not being boxy or bland. Taller and more upright in stance than most small cars, the Versa is exceptionally easy to enter. You can see at a glance that the passenger compartment takes up much of the car's length, the back doors are particularly long and the windshield is about as far forward as possible. Five-door hatchbacks excel in versatility, but may not be popular with everyone. Some shoppers might prefer the Versa Sedan.
Every 2011 Nissan Versa is equipped with seat- and roof-mounted curtain side-impact airbags, a tire-pressure monitor system, electric power steering and an engine immobilizer. The S model includes a six-speed manual transmission, 15-inch steel wheels with full covers, anti-lock brakes (ABS), power body-colored mirrors, a cargo cover and rear wiper/washer (hatchback only), 60/40 split-folding rear seat, CD stereo, air conditioning and tilt steering wheel. The SL version adds an automatic transmission (CVT on hatchback models), 180-watt stereo with six speakers, 15-inch alloy wheels, traction and stability control, rear spoiler, sport front fascia and side sills, six-way manual driver's seat, rear center armrest, cruise control, remote keyless entry and power windows and locks.
Anti-lock braking (ABS) is optional for base 1.6 models. A total of six option groups are divided between the two trims. A Power Plus Package adds cruise control, keyless entry, power locks and power windows to the S models, while the VDC package adds traction and stability control. The SL can be equipped with the Navigation Package, which adds a navigation radio with 5-inch color display, USB connectivity and XM Satellite Radio. SL models can also be equipped with a Convenience Package that adds Intelligent Key entry, Bluetooth hand-free phone operation and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio switches. XM Satellite Radio and an iPod interface hook up are available on both trims, while the SL alone can be equipped with a power moonroof.
For the U.S. market, Nissan's 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine has been specially tuned for stronger low-end torque in S and SL models, and higher fuel economy in base cars. Four transmissions are available: A five-speed manual (base), six-speed manual, four-speed automatic (Sedan) and the Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Available only on the SL hatchback trim, the CVT incorporates a virtual low range, for long, steep hills and heavier pulling.
1.6-liter in-line 4
107 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
111 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/34 (manual), 25/33 (automatic)
1.8-liter in-line 4
122 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
127 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/31 (manual), 24/32 (automatic), 28/34 (CVT automatic)
By Happy on Wednesday, November 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price for all the features it contains."
Cons: "A little noisey at 70mph. No telesopic stearing."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I'm 56 and have had many cars. This is the only one EVER to surpass the EPA gas ratings! 38 mpg combined! It does make a difference in how I drive, but I've never got below 32mpg. It's very roomy and great on trips. The ride is great for the size. Of course it's not as comfee as my big Buick, but far more comfortable than other midsize cars. Has all the power you need in a midsize. It could be quieter on the open road, but again, it's not a $50k+ full size car. It's an awesome midsize car with the mpg of a subcompact."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By danblackRacing on Thursday, October 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 69,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "$9999 Price, Fun to drive, No issues"
Cons: "Light at 2400llbs. Add 180 lbs & snow tires"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I bought the Versa as my winter vehicle to my 2009 Nissan cube summer ride. The Versa sedan is the best car on the road for the buck. We push 39 MPG out of it with the 5 speed. The only changes to the car are: -Side window visors (for rainy hot days-no AC) -Rear roof spoiler -Front air dam -Radio with CD -Sub woofer -cold air intake Its a blast to drive. Not powerful, but responsive. I would never recommend the CVT for anyone that loves a manual shift car. No issues other than a few weeks during cold weather, the car cut out for a split second a few times. Turned out to be moisture near the coil packs. this happens on modern day cars. Still has the original rear brakes at 60,000 miles. Only other replacements have been: Front rotors and pads Starter (covered by Nissan One Warranty). Perfect car. I will not buy a new one because we think they are not attractive. We will get a Nissan Juke though :-)"
3 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By BayouBill on Wednesday, October 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, very roomy, front and back legroom"
Cons: "Manual tranmission gearing - low gear is too high"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This is simply the most car for the money. It is extremely roomy inside with great legroom front and back (I am 6'6" tall). Interior appointments good for an economy car. Power locks and windows, remote entry are standard features. Steering is light and precise and brakes feel solid."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By JR on Thursday, October 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 83,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "fair gas mileage lots of room front and back seats"
Cons: "paint chips to easy"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"this entry level car from Nissan is a great car for the money. I have had very low maint. cost on this car with 83000 miles it still has OE brakes and battery this is a great work car or first car for kids all the way thru collage. for me it was a good bang for the buck. I think 200k will be no issue. I am a keep the car in shape person change oil every 5k air and cabin filters every 15k the car is checked every 5k the tires are balanced and rotated at oil changes the car gets checked top to bottom then."
7 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Buggerlugs on Tuesday, October 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Excellent handling, visibility and space inside"
Cons: "3-4 sec gearbox time delay from forward to reverse"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Tremendously spacious for a small hatchback, including plenty of room for tall adults' legs in the back!. Also does not give you claustrophobia, as the "driver cockpit" cars like Prius and Fit. It is actually practical to slide over from the driver's seat to the passenger seat! Much better visibility all round than most competing cars. Great acceleration and CVT transmission is very smooth, but only moderate gas mileage at about 30 mpg mixed. Nice tight turning circle, too."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Gurlcat on Sunday, September 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 112,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Virtually no mechanical problems"
Cons: "Too little ground clearance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I've had this '09 Versa hatchback for 4.5 years now, she's at 112k miles and the only trouble I've had was two years ago when the transmission went out. Well, turned out there was a recall for this model/year on transmissions so I got it completely replaced, completely free. Other than that, no problem with any other system, major or minor! The car is good on gas, handles nicely and the seats are so comfortable that long trips are very pleasant. This was my first hatchback and now I don't think I could ever go back to having a regular trunk again. Especially with the fold-down rear seats, this tiny car has hauled some surprisingly large items. I also love the smart key, namely the fact that it will not let you lock the keys inside the car, something I "try" to do on an embarrassingly frequent basis. Nice to have a car smarter than I am. My minor complaints are that there are no cupholders in the back seat area, and the rubber door trim started coming off very early on. My one major complaint is the poor ground clearance. This makes bumps and dips a real problem and I've had trouble keeping the bumper on almost this whole time."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful