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2016 Nissan Versa: What You Need to Know

U.S. News & World Report - Cars logo U.S. News & World Report - Cars 11/17/2016 U.S. News & World Report
2016 Nissan Versa© Provided by Autodata, Inc. 2016 Nissan Versa

If you want a no-frills car that will simply get you to work or school for as little money as possible, the 2016 Nissan Versa will probably fit your needs. The Versa is one of the most affordable subcompact cars on the market, but many of its performance and interior attributes reflect its low base price, according to our analysis of the automotive reviews and data that drive our rankings. 

With an abundance of hard plastics, outdated styling, and few standard features, the Versa's cabin leaves much to be desired. Unless you opt for an upper trim, the Versa will come with neither power windows nor power door locks, and it isn't available with as many safety features as some competitors. The Chevrolet Spark has a similar starting price and is available with forward collision alert, blind spot monitoring, and rear parking sensors, none of which are offered in the Versa. Both the sedan and hatchback body styles provide a good amount of cargo room. Seating space inside the Versa is outstanding in both rows, and outward visibility is good.

When it comes to handling, the 2016 Versa is fairly boring. Still, its tight turning radius makes it easy to navigate through cities, and its ride quality is fairly comfortable. The base engine delivers lackluster acceleration on the highway, but power is adequate for driving around town. With the standard manual transmission, the Versa earns average fuel economy estimates. An optional continuously variable automatic transmission boosts fuel economy to near the top of the class, but it’s noisy and unrefined at speed.

The 2016 Nissan Versa is ranked:

Versa Performance:

Feeble Engine Power

The 2016 Nissan Versa isn’t the car for you if you want a powerful engine that can keep up with rivals on the highway, as it only makes 109 horsepower with its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine.

Few subcompact cars have energetic base engines, but if that’s important to you consider the Kia Rio. Its four-cylinder engine puts out quicker acceleration than most rivals. Other options include the Chevrolet Sonic and the Ford Fiesta, both of which come with a brawny turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out lots of horsepower and brisk acceleration.

A five-speed manual transmission is standard in the Versa, while a four-speed automatic or a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which functions like an automatic, is available.

Option for Good Fuel Economy at the Expense of Refinement

The base Versa model earns 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway – estimates that are in the middle of the subcompact car class. When equipped with the CVT, the Versa gets up to 31 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway, which are excellent numbers for the class. Be aware, however, that this transmission, like the CVTs in many other vehicles, is noisy and unrefined at speed.

Admirable Ride Comfort, Lackluster Handling

The 2016 Versa has a comfortable ride – more comfortable than some rivals, in fact. Steering feedback is dull, but the Versa's tight turning radius makes it fairly easy to maneuver through city streets and tight parking lots. It has weak braking power, however. 

For sportier handling and quicker steering, check out the Ford Fiesta, one of the best-handling subcompacts available. Its ride is nimble, as well as comfortable.

Interior Summary

Inferior Cabin Materials

The Versa's cabin contains no soft-touch surfaces – other than the seats -- and its styling is outdated. The interior is mostly made of hard plastic materials that look and feel inferior to competitors. You won't find luxury appointments among subcompact cabins, but most competitors have a nicer interior than the Versa. The Ford Fiesta, for instance, has handsome styling and high-quality materials, including plenty of soft-touch surfaces. Even the cabin's plastic components are well made.

Room to Stretch in Both Rows

The 2016 Nissan Versa has seats for five. Seating comfort is merely decent for a trip to the store, but worsens on longer drives. Head- and legroom are plentiful in the front seats, and even more cavernous in the back where seating measurements best competitors like the Honda Fit and Chevy Sonic by a few inches. The Versa also has good outward visibility.

Cloth upholstery is standard, and upgraded cloth upholstery, manually adjusted front seats, heated front seats, and a driver's armrest are available.

A Low Base Price Means Limited Features

The Versa's low starting price is reflected in its lack of standard and available features. It comes with a four-speaker audio system, an auxiliary audio input, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. You won’t get power windows, power door locks, or keyless entry, however, unless you purchase an upper-level trim. While many rivals have more standard and available features, they also cost more.

The Hyundai Accent costs a couple thousand more than the Versa and has standard keyless entry, as well as power windows and power door locks. The Chevrolet Spark, the Versa's closest-priced competitor, also has manual windows and doors, but it comes with a USB port and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot. It's also available with advanced safety features that the Versa doesn’t have, such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and rear parking sensors. Unlike in the Versa, however, Bluetooth is not standard in the Spark.

The Ford Fiesta also has a slightly higher starting price, and while it doesn’t come standard with power windows, it does have power door locks, as well as a USB port, a six-speaker stereo, and a voice-activated SYNC system.

Average Cargo Space in Both Body Styles

The 2016 Versa sedan has 14.9 cubic feet of trunk space, which is tied with the Chevrolet Sonic's cargo space for the largest in the class. Upper trims are available with 60/40 split-folding back seats.

The Versa Note hatchback has 18.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind its back seats, and 38.3 with them folded, which are typical capacities for a subcompact hatchback. The Versa Note is available with Divide-N-Hide, which allows you create multiple storage compartments to separate and hide your belongings. While its back seats fold, they don't fold flat, so stored items may be slanted.

Versa Pricing, Options, and Trims

The 2016 Nissan Versa is available in two body styles: Versa sedan and Versa Note hatchback. The Versa S sedan, which starts at $11,990, is one of the most affordable cars on the market. It comes standard with a four-speaker audio system, an auxiliary audio input, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a five-speed manual transmission, and Bluetooth phone connectivity, which allows you to make and receive voice calls using the car's speakers. Like many rivals, including the Kia Rio, Chevrolet Sonic, and Ford Fiesta, the Versa S doesn’t come standard with power windows or power door locks. The Honda Fit and Fiat 500 come standard with both, but they cost several thousand dollars more than the Versa. The Versa Note S is priced at $14,230 and comes with the same features as the Versa S sedan. 

The Versa S Plus is priced at $14,040 and adds just a few features like cruise control, a rear spoiler, and a CVT. The Note S Plus costs $15,480 and comes with the same features.

The $15,580 Versa SV adds power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, power steering, a USB port, a six-way manual driver's seat, and 60/40 split-folding rear seats for additional cargo space. This is the first trim available with options. A $700 tech package adds a 5.8-inch color touch screen with voice recognition and navigation, NissanConnect with smartphone app integration, satellite radio, and a rearview camera. The Versa Note SV starts at $16,380 and comes with a 5-inch color display, a rearview camera, and a customizable cargo area.

The Versa Note SR hatchback, starting at $17,980, adds sporty styling features like side sills, a rear spoiler, a sport grille, 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, sport suede seats with orange accent stitching, and outside mirrors with LED turn signals.

The top trim, the Versa SL, costs $17,140. It comes standard with many of the Versa SV's available features including a rearview camera, satellite radio, and a NissanConnect infotainment system with navigation. Also standard are push-button start, 16-inch alloy wheels, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Versa Note SL is priced at $18,710 and comes with the same features while adding an Around View monitor that creates a 360-degree view around the car.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Nissan dealer. You can also head over to our Nissan deals page for the latest manufacturer incentives.

Versa Safety and Reliability

In all three National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests (frontal, side, and rollover), the Nissan Versa earned four stars out of five. The Scion iA earned five stars in all categories.

According to a J.D. Power and Associates study, the 2016 Nissan Versa's predicted reliability is rated as about average. The Hyundai Accent earns the highest reliability marks in the class. J.D. Power finds it better than most cars.

Few safety features are available in the Versa, aside from a rearview camera. While that’s typical for a subcompact car, some competitors have more safety options. For instance, the Chevrolet Spark can be equipped with forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and rear parking sensors.  

The 2016 Nissan Versa is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.

Other Cars to Consider

Like the Versa, the Kia Rio is available in sedan and hatchback body styles. The Rio has one of the strongest base engines in the class, and it delivers fast acceleration for a subcompact. Its available six-speed automatic transmission works well with the engine's power. The Rio has a sport-tuned suspension, quick steering, and strong brakes, so it can manage corners confidently. Inside, the Rio's cabin has good-looking styling and first-rate materials. Its front and back seats are very spacious, with plenty of space for tall riders. While the Kia Rio sedan has a cargo capacity of 13.7 cubic feet (which is about average), the hatchback model has 49.8, which is great for a subcompact hatchback and bigger than the Versa hatchback's cargo space. Unlike the Versa Note hatchback, the Rio hatchback's rear seats are 60/40 split-folding, which allow for additional storage space. Additionally, the Rio's warranty is significantly longer than the Versa's.

The Chevrolet Spark is the Versa's closest price competitor, with a starting MSRP of $12,270, a few hundred dollars more than the Versa. Its cabin is spacious, and despite the plastic surfaces throughout, the Spark's fun color accents and motorcycle-like gauges make for a pleasant environment. The Spark also comes with OnStar with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, and it’s available with driver assist features, like forward collision warning and rear parking sensors, that the Versa doesn’t have. The Spark earns excellent fuel economy numbers – 31 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway, which are much better estimates than the base Versa gets. The Spark also has accurate steering and a small turning radius so it handles well in the city.

Details: 2016 Nissan Versa

The 2016 Nissan Versa seats five and is available in sedan and hatchback (Versa Note) body styles. A 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, a five-speed manual transmission, and front-wheel drive are standard. A four-speed automatic is optional in sedan models, and a continuously variable automatic transmission is optional in both sedan and hatchback models. The sedan is available in four trims: S, S Plus, SV, and SL, while the hatchback is available in five: S, S Plus, SV, SR, and SL. The Versa sedan was last redesigned for the 2012 model year, and the Versa Note was introduced for the 2014 model year. Neither model has seen any major changes since. As a result, this overview uses applicable research and reviews from the 2012 through 2016 model years.

Standard features include a four-speaker audio system, an auxiliary audio input, Bluetooth, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Optional features include power windows, power door locks, satellite radio, a USB port, cruise control, remote keyless entry, push-button start, a rearview camera or a 360-degree camera system, and the NissanConnect infotainment system with a 5.8-inch touch screen, navigation, voice recognition, and smartphone integration.

Read the full 2016 Nissan Versa reviewon U.S. News Best Cars for more details, photos, specs and prices.

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