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2018 Nissan Versa

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2018 Nissan Versa Expert Review

By Scott Oldham -- Contributing Editor

KBB Expert Rating: 7.5

With a base price below $13,000, the 2018 Nissan Versa is an affordable, comfortable and economical subcompact sedan with a roomy interior, large trunk and popular features. It’s also the least expensive new car available in the United States, undercutting its competition that includes the Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Toyota Yaris iA, Chevy Sonic, Ford Fiesta and Mitsubishi Mirage. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on the Versa S, but move up to the Versa S Plus and you get an automatic transmission, Bluetooth, a rear spoiler and cruise control for an additional $2,200. Buyers can also step up to the Versa SV, which is the top of the range. All models are powered by a 109-horsepower 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, which is light, even for this class, while the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit both offer better driving dynamics.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you’re looking for the lowest possible price you’ll like the 2018 Nissan Versa. It’s not only the least expensive new car for sale in the United States, but it’s extremely fuel efficient and its roomy interior can seat five passengers. Its 14.9-cubic-foot trunk space is also large for its class.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The Versa is available only as a sedan. If you’re looking for a small, affordable and fuel-efficient hatchback, check out the 2018 Nissan Versa Note, which is reviewed separately. Some may find the Versa sedan’s very low starting price attractive, but know that the base model comes with a manual transmission, manual crank windows and manual door locks.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 7.5
  • 7.2
  • 7.6
  • 7.5
  • 7.9
  • N/A
2018 Nissan Versa Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

For 2018 the new Nissan Versa Sedan gets a few small upgrades. Nissan has added standard adjustable front headrests, map lights and variable intermittent windshield wipers to all trim levels. There’s also a new exterior color, Deep Blue Pearl.

Driving the Versa
2018 Nissan Versa Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

Looking at its base price, it’s easy to expect the 2018 Nissan Versa to be as rough-riding as a stage coach and just as noisy. Slow too, and with a...

... driver’s seat that feels like a milk crate. Wrong. Our Versa SV test vehicle was a pleasant surprise from behind its leather-wrapped steering wheel. It’s comfortable, quiet for its class, and it feels substantial going down the road. No, it’s not going to pamper you like a new Mercedes or thrill you like a supercar, but the Versa is agile and its little 4-cylinder engine has just enough power to move the little sedan with zip. There’s good steering feel, plus a tight turn radius that makes parking this small sedan a snap, excellent visibility, comfortable and supportive seats, and good head- and legroom. The continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is extremely smooth and increases fuel economy compared to the 5-speed manual.

GENEROUS REAR-SEAT LEGROOM
With its expansive 102.4-inch wheelbase, which is long for the subcompact class, the 2018 Nissan Versa offers an impressive amount of rear-seat legroom. It measures 37 inches, which is more than you get in most of its competitors including the Chevy Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio.

HIGH FUEL ECONOMY
The 2018 Nissan Versa may not be as powerful or fun-to-drive as some of its rivals, but its fuel economy is impressive. Models with the Xtronic CVT are rated 31 mpg in the city and 39 mpg out on the highway. Those numbers make it more fuel efficient than the Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio and Chevy Sonic.

2018 Nissan Versa Details
2018 Nissan Versa Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

The interior of the 2018 Nissan Versa is comfortable, ergonomically sensible and nicely assembled. It’s also one of the most spacious in its class. Rear passengers get 37 inches of legroom, three inches more than in the Chevy Sonic. Headroom is also generous. Even the trunk is big with its 14.9 cubic feet, which expands when you fold the rear seatbacks on higher trims. The design isn't fancy, and the controls and materials are all basic. The three knobs that control the air conditioning and heat are well-sized, and the infotainment system is easy to use. The tilt/telescope steering wheel and height-adjustable seat made getting comfortable easy.

Exterior
2018 Nissan Versa photo

From some angles it’s easy to confuse the 2018 Nissan Versa with the larger and more expensive Nissan Sentra and Altima sedans. The Versa, with its long 102.4-inch wheelbase and 175.4-inch overall length, is big for the subcompact class, and it looks aspirational with its chrome grille surround, our test car’s chrome door handles and its body-color outside mirrors. The Versa's tall doors make entry and exit easier, and the long rear doors simplify installing a child safety seat. You get nicer-looking alloy wheels on higher-end SL and SV models, and fog lights are part of the optional SV Special Edition Package, which is available only on the top SV trim level.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The basic 2018 Nissan Versa is pretty basic, but it does come with air conditioning, power mirrors, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/aux audio system, tilt steering wheel, trip computer, Bluetooth for your phone, front disc/rear drum brakes, 15-inch steel wheels with covers, vanity mirrors and a rear defroster. It also comes with a 5-speed manual transmission and hand-cranked manual windows. If you want such features as power windows, power door locks, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver's seat, or even a remote trunk release, you'll have to step up to a higher trim level, such as the S Plus or SV trims.

Optional Equipment

Climbing the model ladder is the best way to get more stuff on the 2018 Versa. Mid-level SV models get a 6-way-adjustable driver's seat, split-folding rear seats, better interior fabric, and an upgraded audio system that includes a USB input. Top-of-the-line SV models get push-button start, NissanConnect with navigation and mobile apps, and 15-inch alloy wheels. All Versa models above basic S get the CVT automatic transmission. The SV Special Edition is the only option package this year, and for just $500 it adds streaming audio through Bluetooth, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 5.0-inch color display audio, variable-speed windshield wipers, fog lights and SiriusXM satellite radio. Also available is a set of black alloy wheels for $495.

Under the Hood
2018 Nissan Versa Engine photo

The only engine available in the front-wheel-drive 2018 Nissan Versa sedan is a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder with 109 horsepower. That's not a lot of power, but the Versa's not a lot of car, either. Besides, with the CVT automatic transmission it gets an impressive 39 mpg on the highway according to the EPA. If you get the basic Versa S you get a standard 5-speed manual transmission but we suggest skipping it and moving up to the S Plus model with the automatic if you can.

1.6-liter inline-4
109 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
107 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/36 mpg (5-speed manual), 31/39 mpg (CVT automatic)

The 2018 Nissan Versa S has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $12,875 including the $885 destination charge, making it the least expensive new car available in the U.S. But the price climbs quickly; move up to the Versa S Plus to get the Xtronic automatic transmission and the price jumps to about $15,000. However, even if you get the top-line Versa SV, you'll still pay less than $17,000, which is pretty good for a fully loaded new car. By comparison, the Kia Rio has a more powerful engine and a longer warranty, and starts around $15,000; same with the Chevy Sonic, Hyundai Accent, Toyota Yaris and Ford Fiesta. Whatever you decide, 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.

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