By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
The 2015 Nissan Versa is not only the least-expensive vehicle in Nissan's fleet – it's the least-expensive new car, period. A year after the debut of its new hatchback version, the Versa Note, the 2015 Versa Sedan gets its own updates to shed some of its past frumpiness. Yet the sedan continues to sport an alluring base price of just $12,800. That money still only buys a basic car, but one that is roomy and fuel efficient. Higher-trim versions of the sedan boast more amenities, while the Versa Note offers the cargo versatility of a hatchback and fresher design. Rivals like the Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio and Honda Fit are more fun to drive, but none can touch the Versa's starting price.
If budget takes priority over driving excitement and feature-rich amenities, the 2015 Nissan Versa lineup offers affordable and efficient transportation in the form of a 5-passenger sedan or hatchback. The Versa's roomy cabin and up-to-40-mpg rating are also high points.
Want to have a little more fun behind the wheel? Better candidates include the Honda Fit, Kia Rio, Ford Fiesta, Chevy Sonic and Mazda2. These sedan and hatchback rivals also tempt with low prices and high fuel economy.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2015 Versa Sedan receives new front and rear fascias, while the interior gets minor design updates. Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity arrives in base models. The Versa Note hatchback adds the SR trim that aims to be sporty via exterior and interior aesthetics.
The 2015 Nissan Versa is not a thrilling car to drive, but it sure is easy. Both the sedan and the smaller Versa Note hatchback are smooth and quiet by...
... economy-car standards, and we were impressed with the refinement of the newer Note in particular. The steering is light, its turning radius is tight, and visibility is very good from the driver's seat. Like other cars with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), Versas so equipped take some getting used to. There are no conventional shift points, so the engine may seem to be working hard at unexpected times. With just 109 horsepower, the 2015 Versa’s acceleration – or lack thereof – won’t tempt you to enter many drag races.
The Versa is commendably roomy, and folding rear seatbacks add versatility. In both Sedan and 5-door forms this is a small car that can comfortably seat two full-size adults in back.
Sedans with the CVT automatic transmission are rated at 40 mpg for the highway and 35 mpg combined. The 5-door Nissan Versa Note equals the sedan’s numbers with even better drivability, making both Versas easy on the wallet and on the environment.
Despite their small exteriors, sedan and hatchback versions of the 2015 Versa hide a lot of interior space. In the sedan, rear-seat passengers get 37 inches of legroom, while those in the Versa Note hatchback can stretch out with 38.3 inches, similar to a full-size sedan. As a grocery-getter, the sedan holds much in its 14.9-cubic-foot trunk, while the Note swallows 18.8 cubic feet with rear seats up or up to 38.3 with them down. The rear seats of the sedan also fold in a 60/40 split, but only on the higher SV and SL trims. Up front, controls and cabin materials are basic.
Thanks to a fresh face similar to that of its larger siblings the Sentra and Altima, the 2015 Nissan Versa has more visual pizzazz than before. More appealing from a stylistic standpoint, however, is the Versa Note. This 5-door hatchback's overhangs are six inches shorter than the Sedan’s, and the result is a more energetic-looking design. The new Versa Note SR trim goes for a sportier look with standard fog lights, black and chrome accents, and a unique front fascia.
A base 2015 Versa Sedan has a tempting price for sure, but you will have to sacrifice some creature comforts for it. It does come with air conditioning, a 2-speaker AM/FM/CD/Aux audio system and Bluetooth, but you won't get power windows, power door locks, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver's seat, or even a remote trunk release. For those kind of features, you'll have to step up to the S Plus or SV trims, which cost thousands more. The pricier Versa Note is also basic in base form, but comes with four speakers and 60/40 split-folding rear seats.
As with other Nissans, most of the extras come by climbing trims. Mid-tier SV models gain a 6-way adjustable driver's seat, split-folding rear seats, better fabric material, and an upgraded audio system that includes a USB input. Top-line SL models come with the NissanConnect system that integrates mobile apps such as those for Facebook and Pandora, push-button ignition, and a premium audio system with 5-inch display and Bluetooth audio streaming. A tech package for top-tier models offers navigation and a rearview monitor for the Versa Sedan, and nav plus the innovative Around View Monitor on the Versa Note.
The front-wheel-drive Nissan Versa Sedan and 5-door Note hatchback are equipped with a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. With only 109 horsepower, it’s not particularly powerful, but does get an EPA rating of 40 mpg on the highway when connected to a CVT transmission. Other transmission choices are a 5-speed manual (Versa Sedan and Versa Note) and 4-speed automatic (available only on base S models of the Sedan.) All other Versas use the fuel-saving CVT.
109 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
107 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/36 mpg (5-speed manual), 26/35 (4-speed automatic), 31/40 mpg (CVT automatic)
The Nissan Versa has the lowest Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of any new car, with base Sedan models starting at $12,800. Adding even simple options like a 4-speed automatic transmission lifts that cost to over $14,000. The Versa Note hatchback has a higher starting price of around $15,000. Moving up trims and adding features can push a Versa's price to around $20,000 in top form. A Kia Rio, by comparison, has a more powerful engine and a longer warranty, and starts around $15,000, the neighborhood where base models of the Honda Fit, Chevy Sonic, Hyundai Accent and Ford Fiesta reside. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for their Versa. Strong resale value is another characteristic of the Versa, where it's a best-in-class leader.