The Nissan Versa is a subcompact model available as a sedan or hatchback, the latter called the Versa Note and marketed separately. The 2018 Nissan Versa sedan supplies excellent room and value for the segment, making new car affordability attainable for the masses.

Best Value

The front-wheel drive 2018 Nissan Versa comes in four trims: S, S+, SL and SV trims. All models come with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine paired to either a five-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic transmission. The stick is only available on the base Versa.

Our best pick here is the S Plus edition ($15,135, including an $885 destination charge) as it rises above the bare-bones model to deliver such features as a rear spoiler, cruise control and an automatic transmission without demanding too much cash. This model builds on already included features such as Bluetooth, a four-speaker audio system and a CD player.

  • Model: 2018 Nissan Versa S Plus
  • Engine: 1.6-liter inline-four
  • Output: 109 hp/107 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Continuously variable automatic
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
  • MPG: 31 City / 39 Hwy
  • Options: None
  • Base Price: $15,135
  • Best Value Price:$15,135

Performance

Nissan Versa

The 2018 Nissan Versa sedan comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque. If those numbers seem low, they are. As a result, if you carry a full complement of passengers, you’ll feel just how sluggish this engine is. The Versa is clearly best for one or two people, but not for carrying a full load.

The standard five-speed manual transmission is limited to the base model, so you won’t find it on our recommended trim. That’s okay because the manual isn’t especially fun to work with, plus the thriftiest model uses the CVT.

The Versa’s steering is reasonably well weighted. Certainly, this small sedan isn’t fun to drive, but that’s not what it is about. Instead, it's a car that will take you faithfully from point to point without busting your budget.

Style

The Versa’s exterior is simple, if not straightforward, marked by the brand’s horse-collar grille up front and honed in by expressive headlamps. Overall, the canvas attempts to emulate Nissan’s larger models, but falls short, in part because of its size. The base model seems quite spartan, but once you move up the trim level chain you get such features as chrome trim and aluminum wheels. Still, the overall look is focused on value.

The interior is surprisingly roomy, nearly matching some compact models. Four can sit comfortably thanks to the ample second-row legroom, although squeezing a fifth person in to sit in the back requires some negotiation with passengers on either side. The tall roofline delivers an extra measure of room not available in most competing models. The 14.9-cubic-foot trunk is very large for this segment and offers more room than some midsize models.

The cabin is spartan with plastics and some soft-touch materials evident, although the latter seems in more abundance than some other models. The knobs and buttons are easy to discern, the layout is clean and the instrument panel is uncomplicated.

The Best and Worst Things

For a subcompact, the Versa sedan seems large. Indeed, it is the largest model in this segment. On the other hand, the list of amenities is quite small, thus a late-model used car may make better sense.

Right For...

Nissan Versa

The budget-minded individual who wants a new car and is limited to $15,000 or less. No model of this size can match the Versa in affordability, although some come close.

Wrong For...

The shopper who wants a long list of amenities. Sure, top-end models deliver such features as power windows and door locks, a USB port, and satellite radio. There is a trade-off with a low price and even some features commonly standard elsewhere will cost you extra if they’re available at all.

The Bottom Line

The Nissan Versa offers a big “V” as in value. And that’s the customer base Nissan is targeting for this car. If your budget isn’t as restricted the larger Nissan Sentra is the better choice, delivering the amenities absent in the Versa.