The 2011 Nissan Versa is one of the cheapest cars available, but reviewers still find a lot to like considering its low price, making it the best-reviewed bargain-priced economy car. Starting at $9,990, the Versa offers considerable amounts of passenger space and comfort as well as a compliant ride. Both hatchback and sedan versions are available, though the cheapest Versa only comes in sedan form. For a little more money, the 2011 Honda Fit (Base MSRP: $15,100 to $16,860) offers frugality and fun that experts perennially rave about.
For 2011, the only significant change for the Versa is that antilock brakes are now standard on the upgraded base trim level. See our full report on the 2009 Nissan Versa for detailed analysis of what expert reviewers say about that model.
The base 1.6-liter engine in the Versa gets an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway/29 combined fuel-economy rating with the five-speed manual. The four-speed automatic transmission delivers just 1 mpg less on the highway. The optional 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine delivers a slightly lower 26 mpg city/31 mpg highway/28 mpg combined when paired with the manual transmission, and 24 mpg city/32 mpg highway/27 mpg combined with the same automatic as available in the base engine. The top trim level is available with a CVT automatic transmission that increases fuel efficiency up to 28 mpg city/34 mpg highway/30 mpg combined. While the Versa's fuel economy is decent, it isn't great for a subcompact vehicle. Newer competitors like the 2011 Ford Fiesta (Base MSRP: $13,320 to $17,120) are more efficient.
The 2011 Nissan Versa is rated well by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. For front-, side- and rear-impact protection, the Versa receives the highest rating of Good. The Versa misses the Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS because it hasn't yet been tested for roof strength. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has evaluated both the sedan and hatchback versions of the Versa. Neither fare particularly well in these tests, ending up with an overall rating of 2 stars out of 5. NHTSA gives the Versa a 3-star rating for frontal-crash protection and 4 stars for rollover resistance, but only 2 stars for side-impact protection.
All Versa trims come with front, side and side curtain airbags. Antilock brakes are standard on all but the stripped-down 1.6 Base trim level, for which they are optional. Electronic stability control is available as an option only on the more expensive 1.8 S and 1.8 SL trim levels.
The Versa's lowest 1.6 Base trim certainly is cheap at $9,990, while the 1.8SL hatchback version is the most expensive trim at $16,940.
An all-new 2012 Nissan Versa is expected to debut at the 2011 New York Auto Show.
Edmunds.com says the Versa is a competent subcompact at a low price. Editors like the ride quality and cabin space, but find the car boring when compared with slightly more expensive competitors.
Review: 2011 Nissan Versa, Editors of Edmunds.com
ConsumerReports.org ranks the Versa and many other cars on different attributes, including reliability based on data from reader surveys.
Review: New Cars: Small Cars, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
3. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The Nissan Versa performs well in IIHS crash tests, receiving the highest rating of Good for front-, rear- and side-crash protection. It misses the Top Safety Pick designation because it has not been tested for roof strength.
Review: Small Cars, Editors of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The Nissan Versa earns a disappointing 2-star rating for overall crash protection from the government-run National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The weak spot for the Versa is its side-impact protection, which receives only a 2-star rating.
Review: 5-Star Safety Ratings, Editors of SaferCar.gov
The Nissan Versa delivers an estimated 27 to 30 mpg in combined driving, depending on trim level, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Mileage for the Versa depends on the choice of two available engines and three available transmissions.
Review: 2011 Nissan Versa, Editors of FuelEconomy.gov
The Nissan Versa has been essentially unchanged over the last few years. This full report on the 2009 Nissan Versa compiles expert opinions to give a detailed overview on the Versa lineup.
Review: 2009 Nissan Versa, Editors of ConsumerSearch.com, March 2009
ConsumerSearch.com automotive editor Alex Nunez covers some of the new economy-car models scheduled to make their debuts at the 2011 New York Auto Show. The 2012 Nissan Versa is one of them.
Review: Important Economy Car Debuts Scheduled for New York Auto Show, Alex Nunez, April 6, 2011