Value for money. The Nissan Versa may not be the bargain-basement car it was a decade ago, but it's all the better for it. Important equipment such as automatic emergency braking, high beam assist, and lane departure warning come on all models. And at $16,250 to start, it looks appealing and it's still one of the least-expensive new cars for sale today.

Even better-equipped, the mid-grade SV trim level with automatic transmission is barely more than $19,000 but includes 16-inch alloy wheels, blind-spot monitoring, upgraded upholstery, and features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity — all things that would be standard on larger compact sedans, but those would cost thousands more to start.

For only several dollars more than $20,000, however, the highest SR trim gets larger wheels and keyless entry and start, and can be optioned with heated front seats and automatic climate control. It's also rated at 35 mpg combined city/highway fuel economy by the EPA. Consumers looking for efficient transportation that doesn't break the bank, but also doesn't feel inexpensive, might find this model attractive.

Unexpected space. While Nissan sacrificed some of the interior room from the previous Versa sedan, it's still acceptable for this class, even spacious. But the cargo space is vast and at 15 cubic feet, it's better than some compact or even midsize sedans. It also comes with split-folding rear seats to expand that space.

And for four occupants and their luggage, there's a useful amount of space that the less-expensive Chevrolet Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage, two of the Versa's rivals. The Nissan doesn't have as much of the cramped feel that subcompact cars typically have, even if four adults might feel like they're sitting closer together than usual.

However, the rear seat is viable for children. And with Nissan's Rear Door Alert, which monitors whether there might be small children or pets accidentally left in the rear seat, the Versa could be a manageable vehicle for a young family on a budget.

Looks good, at least on the surface. Outside and inside, the Versa looks more appealing and expensive than other small sedans such as the Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio. It offers upscale designs and comes in brighter colors than the typical white, gray, and black. And the Versa takes a lot of inspiration from the more expensive Nissan Sentra and Maxima sedans, which helps put it alongside better company.

The interior also attracts the eye with pleasing shapes and colors, but it doesn't take long to realize it isn't an expensive-feeling vehicle. Many of the touchpoints feel low rent, including the steering wheel, doors, and shifter. Even the upgraded seven-inch touchscreen on the SV and SR models is small by today's standards, and only the SR gets upholstery that brings the interior above rental-car-grade.

On top of that, the least-expensive S model comes with a five-speed manual as standard — when six speeds is the standard today. Adding an automatic adds nearly $1,700 to the price. The Versa is still a good value for a new car, and even among subcompact cars. But consider that the attractive price includes more practical features rather than comfort ones.

Final thoughts. When Nissan redesigned the Versa two years ago, it dropped the more practical Versa Note hatchback derivative. Considering subcompact cars are small, hatchback variants of them tend to be more attractive to buyers than sedans. And even though the Versa sedan has a relatively large trunk, it's never going to appeal to people who like to have an open space for a dog or some small furniture.

What Nissan did, however, is offer the Kicks small SUV. It shares a lot with the Versa, including its engine. It's even reasonably fuel-efficient for a slightly larger vehicle. But the least expensive Kicks costs more than the most expensive Versa. The Versa is very much a sedan in an SUV market.

And among subcompact cars, the hatchback roster has dwindled significantly in the last couple of years as models such as the Chevy Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, and Toyota Yaris are no longer offered. That means those customers looking for a small and inexpensive new vehicle are being pushed to more expensive SUVs.

Check prices for the 2022 Nissan Versa »