No bones about it, the Versa sedan is built specifically to serve up cheap and comfortable transportation. Its status as the cheapest new car sold in America will no doubt entice first-time buyers, budget shoppers, and rental fleets, but the low sticker price means Nissan’s smallest sedan is missing many of the features that are standard on slightly more expensive rivals. Likewise, the most affordable Versa model is only available with a manual transmission, which could deter frugal buyers who want the convenience of an automatic transmission. We’ll admit that a car that is fun to drive is more important to us, yet it may be less important to people who want a comfortable interior and a fuel-efficient engine—which is the Versa in a nutshell. However, this bargain box simply has too many vices to warrant interest from all but the stingiest buyers.
What’s New for 2018?
For 2018, the Versa sedan lineup has dropped its top-tier SL trim. This leaves only the S, S Plus, and SV. The departing SL takes with it several exclusive features including a 5.8-inch touchscreen with navigation, a keyless entry system, push-button ignition, and 16-inch wheels. Nissan also nixed its previously available four-speed automatic transmission. This means the base S model is only offered with a manual gearbox; the other two trims rely solely on a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The few other updates include standard adjustable front headrests, map lights, and variable intermittent windshield wipers. Deep Blue Pearl joins the exterior paint palette.
What was New for 2017?
For 2017, the Versa received several modest interior changes including a lightly reworked center console that added redesigned cupholders and a second 12-volt outlet. The standard auxiliary input and available USB port were relocated ahead of the shift lever. Additionally, a new Special Edition package was available in the mid-grade SV trim. The $500 option included a 5.0-inch infotainment screen, a backup camera, and 15-inch wheels.
Trims and Options We’d Choose
The Versa is the least expensive new car sold today, and it feels every bit the part. If you’re buying a Versa, we suggest you commit to the model’s penchant for penny pinching and purchase the entry-level S. At $12,995, the S lacks civilized features such as folding rear seats, cruise control, and power windows and locks. Still, the Versa S isn’t completely devoid of niceties; it comes standard with:
• Steering-wheel-mounted audio controls
• Hands-free Bluetooth phone system
• Air conditioning
• Power exterior mirrors
Additionally, the Versa S is the only trim offered with a manual transmission—all other Versa models use a prosaic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).