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3/4 Front Glamour 2012 Nissan Versa

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Expert's Rating

4.2Excellent

MPG 28 City / 35 Highway
Pros
  • Comfortable front seats
  • Smooth ride
  • Good handling
  • Excellent fuel economy
Cons
  • Base models come meagerly equipped
  • Non-folding back seat
, Automotive Editor -
The Nissan Versa is among the least expensive new cars on sale today, making it ideal for young buyers or those who don't ask anything more of a car than getting from point A to B safely and reliably. That's what the Versa does best, because it is a spacious and versatile package - especially in hatchback guise. New for 2012, the Versa sedan scores highly on rear-seat space and fuel economy, while the hatchback majors on features for the price and the flexibility of that fifth door. The compact and efficient package of the Versa means it's appealing to many small car shoppers.

Introduction

The Versa sedan starts with the 1.6S. Like all Versa sedans, it's powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 109 horsepower. A five-speed manual is standard on the S, but a four-speed automatic transmission is optional. The S also gets 15-inch wheels, trip computer, air conditioning, a full set of front, side and curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes. A two-speaker audio system with AUX input is also included. The better-equipped SV gets a standard CVT automatic transmission, power windows, mirrors and locks, cruise control, tachometer and four-spekear audio system. The top-rung SL gets alloy wheels, fog lights, Bluetooth, iPod integration and a split-folding rear seat. The Versa Hatchback starts with the 1.8S, which has a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 122 horsepower mated to a six-speed manual transmission. It also gets split-folding rear seats, air conditioning and a four-speaker audio system with AUX input. The 1.8SL is the best-equipped out of all of the Versa models and gets power windows, mirrors and locks with remote keyless entry, a CVT automatic transmission, 15-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, auto-dimming rearview mirror and a six-speaker audio system.

The Honda Fit is agile, well-built and very versatile, but costs more and doesn't get as good MPG ratings as the Versa sedan. The Toyota Yaris is also inexpensive and offers a sporty looking SE trim, but it's not as economical as a Versa either. The Chevrolet Sonic is well-built, powerful and refined for the class, but can be very expensive. And the Kia Rio is stylish and offers better in-car technology, but can cost more and isn't as spacious.

While the Versa isn't the most glamorous small car on the market, its basic approach to transportation could appeal to buyers looking for a new-car warranty at a low price. The sedan boasts a rear seat large enough to embarrass some sedans in the next class up, while the hatchback is well-built and comfortable and available with advanced features like keyless entry and start that are still a rarity in this segment. The Versa is a wholesome package that could be just what certain buyers need.

Which Style To Buy?

2012 Nissan Versa
Starting price
$7,491

2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 S

Recommended for: Buyers looking for basic transportation at a low price

The Versa 1.6S is one of the least expensive new cars on sale today and even though it doesn't have many features consumers have come to expect, it has all of the essentials to get drivers on the road in a brand new car. Like all Versa sedans, it has a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 109 horsepower. It's mated to a standard five-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic transmission. The S comes standard with 15-inch wheels, air conditioning, trip computer, tilt steering wheel, cloth seats, height adjustment for the driver's seat and a two-speaker audio system with AUX input.

2012 Nissan Versa
Starting price
$7,491

2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SL

Recommended for: Shoppers looking for more advanced features

The SL packs in more uplevel features into the Versa's small car package. These features include 15-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, keyless entry and start, variable intermittent wipers, front map light, passenger's side vanity mirror, split-folding rear seats and a four-speaker audio system with iPod interface. The optional Technology Package adds Nissan's navigation system with Sirius satellite radio, traffic and weather, backup camera and a USB input. The SL represents a way to get a small sedan that incorporates features from much larger, more expensive versions. Consider it if you want more toys but the economy of the Versa.

2012 Nissan Versa
Starting price
$7,491

2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SV

Recommended for: Buyers looking for more equipment and better value

The SV brings Versa sedan shoppers more in the way of modern conveniences and could make the most sense for buyers looking for cheap wheels they can live with on a day-to-day basis. The SV adds a standard CVT automatic transmission, painted outside mirrors with a chrome grille, tachometer, upgraded trip computer and better cloth seats, power windows, mirrors and locks, cruise control and a four-speaker audio system with CD/MP3 capability. Options include the Convenience Package, which combines Bluetooth, an iPod interface, front map light, passenger's side vanity mirror and a split-folding rear seat.

2012 Nissan Versa
Starting price
$7,491

2012 Nissan Versa 1.8 S

Recommended for: Buyers who want a small hatchback at a reasonable price

The 1.8S is the least expensive way to get a Versa hatchback, which is a competent performer in this class that adds a degree of power and versatility over the Versa sedan. The 1.8S gets the 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 122 horsepower and mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic transmission is optional. The S also includes 15-inch wheels, body-color exterior trim, variable intermittent wipers, a rear wiper, power windows, locks and mirrors, split-folding rear seats and a four-speaker audio system with AUX input. Fifteen-inch alloy wheels are optional, as are cruise control and remote keyless entry. The Convenience Package includes Bluetooth, a premium audio system, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, sunglass holder and map lights and cargo cover. The Special Edition Package bundles all of the aforementioned options for a discounted price. And the standalone Navigation Package includes a five-inch touchscreen system with Sirius traffic and weather and USB input.

2012 Nissan Versa
Starting price
$7,491

2012 Nissan Versa 1.8 SL

Recommended for: Shoppers looking for an inexpensive hatchback with more advanced features

The SL hatchback offers some of the most advanced features available in the Versa, and basically builds on the generous equipment available on the 1.8S. Standard features are a CVT automatic transmission, 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, lower body kit, rear spoiler, keyless entry and start, Bluetooth, auto-dimming rearview mirror, cruise control, map lights and sunglass holder, cargo cover, height adjustment for the driver's seat, armrests for the front and rear seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and wood trim for cars equipped with a beige interior. The optional Navigation Package includes a five-inch touchscreen system with Sirius traffic and weather and USB input.

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