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2021 Nissan Versa Review

The Nissan Versa has a nice interior and a smooth ride, but its dull engine and limited rear headroom contribute to its placement in the bottom third of our subcompact car rankings.

Pros & Cons

  • Upscale cabin
  • Solid list of safety features
  • Refined ride
  • Sluggish acceleration
  • Snug rear-seat headroom
  • Touch screen slow to respond to input

Rankings & Awards

The 2021 Nissan Versa's #6 ranking is based on its score within the Subcompact Cars category. It was a finalist for our 2021 Best Subcompact Car for the Money award. Currently the Nissan Versa has a score of 7.6 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 16 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.6

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.8
Performance: 6.4
Interior: 6.8
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.5 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Nissan Versa?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Nissan Versa a Good Car?

Despite its ranking, the Nissan Versa is a good subcompact car. In fact, we named the Versa a finalist for our 2021 Best Subcompact Car for the Money award because of its solid combination of quality and value. It has a gentle ride, a decent amount of trunk space, and a well-built cabin. There are plenty of standard driver assistance features too. This sedan does have a few shortcomings worth noting, however. It has finicky infotainment controls, limited rear-seat headroom, and an unimpressive engine.

Why You Can Trust Us: 16 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know about this car in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data like fuel economy estimates, horsepower specs, and cargo space dimensions with 16 professional reviews.

This 2021 Versa review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2020.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Nissan Versa?

While the Nissan Versa is not a bad sedan, there are better options in the class. The Kia Rio comes in sedan and hatchback body styles, and it’s more fuel-efficient than the Nissan. There’s also the well-equipped Hyundai Accent.

Compare the Versa, Rio, and Accent »

2020 vs. 2021 Nissan Versa: What's the Difference?

Nissan left the Versa largely unchanged for the 2021 model year.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Versa »

Here are the key changes for the Nissan Versa over the last few years:

  • 2018: four-speed automatic transmission dropped; midcycle refresh brought more standard features to sedan
  • 2019: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto made available
  • 2020: fully redesigned with a 13-horsepower bump, more standard and available features, and a revamped interior design; Versa Note hatchback body style discontinued
  • 2021: no major changes

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Versa, 2019 Versa, and 2020 Versa reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Nissan Versa Cost?

The entry-level Versa sedan has an affordable MSRP of $14,930. However, to get a model with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) instead of a manual, you’ll have to spend at least $16,600. The top-trim SR starts at $18,340.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Nissan dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Nissan deals page.

Nissan Versa Versus the Competition

Nissan Versa vs. Nissan Sentra

The Nissan Sentra is a compact car, but it’s not much roomier than the Versa. In fact, the Versa actually has more trunk space. However, the Sentra has more standard equipment, such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 suite of driver assistance features. Both sedans suffer from many of the same weaknesses, such as a droning engine and tight headroom. Picking one is a matter of preference.

Compare the Versa and Sentra »

Nissan Versa vs. Chevrolet Spark

The Chevrolet Spark is one of the most affordable subcompact cars, even undercutting the Versa’s retail price by around $1,500. However, the Nissan is the better pick. Versa models with a CVT get better fuel economy estimates than the Spark, and all Versas have nicer cabin materials and roomier passenger accommodations. The Nissan has more standard safety features too.

Compare the Versa and Spark »

Compare the Versa, Sentra, and Spark »

Versa Interior: Decent

Versa Cargo Space

With 14.7 cubic feet of trunk space, the Versa sedan has a decently sized trunk for the class. Note that SV and SR trims have marginally larger trunks with 15 cubic feet of space.

How Many People Does the Versa Seat?

This Nissan can seat five people and has a nice amount of room in both rows for a small car. However, rear-seat headroom is tight, and taller passengers may find their hair brushing the ceiling. Cloth seats are standard. Heated front seats and upgraded cloth upholstery are available.

Versa and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the Versa’s rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat.

Versa Interior Quality

While the Versa’s cabin is made with a number of hard plastics, they’re high-quality. Everything looks and feels well-built.

Versa Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The infotainment system is easy to use, thanks in part to well-placed and clearly labeled physical controls, but the touch screen can lag before responding to input, and the voice recognition doesn’t work as well as it should.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 7-inch touch screen, a four-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, and a USB port
  • Available infotainment features: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, and a six-speaker stereo
  • Additional standard features: push-button start
  • Other available features: proximity keyless entry, remote start, and automatic climate control

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Versa Performance: Smooth and Dull

Versa Engine

Every Versa comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. This powertrain gets mixed reviews. Some critics say it's fine for day-to-day driving, but others report that acceleration is slow and accompanied by a lot of noise.

The base Versa S can be had with a five-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). All other trims come exclusively with the CVT, which works smoothly.

Versa Gas Mileage

When outfitted with the CVT, this Nissan earns an EPA-estimated 32 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. Those are good ratings for the subcompact car class. Models with the manual transmission get fuel economy figures of 27 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.

Versa Ride and Handling

The Versa provides a smooth ride and controlled handling. The suspension helps this sedan glide over most blemishes in the pavement, and controlled body lean and responsive steering help it feel composed on the road. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is unavailable.

Read more about performance »

Versa Reliability

Is the Nissan Versa Reliable?

The 2021 Versa has a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Nissan Versa Warranty

Nissan backs the Versa with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Versa Safety

Versa Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not fully evaluated the 2021 Versa as of this writing, but the NHTSA did give this sedan five out of five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the rollover test.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2021 Versa, but the organization gave the similar 2020 model the highest rating of Good in the two crash tests it conducted.

Versa Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Forward and reverse automatic emergency braking
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Rearview camera
  • Lane departure warning
  • Automatic high-beam headlights

Available advanced safety features:

  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Driver attention monitor
  • Adaptive cruise control

Read more about safety »

Versa Dimensions and Weight

The Versa is 14.8 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 2,599 to 2,729 pounds, and its gross vehicle weight rating is between 3,461 and 3,605 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Nissan Versa Built?

Nissan builds the 2021 Versa in Mexico.

Which Nissan Versa Model Is Right for Me?

Nissan makes the 2021 Versa in three trim levels: S, SV, and SR. All three have a 1.6-liter engine and front-wheel drive. The S is the only trim that can be had with a manual or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT); all others come exclusively with the CVT. Unless you really want the manual, it’s worth upgrading to the SV trim to get the NissanConnect infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Nissan Versa S

The Nissan Versa S has a starting MSRP of $14,930. Standard equipment includes a 7-inch touch screen, a four-speaker stereo, a USB port, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, forward collision warning, forward and reverse automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and a rearview camera.

Models with the CVT start at $16,600 and gain split-folding rear seats.

Nissan Versa SV

SV models retail for $17,740. Additions include upgraded cloth upholstery, satellite radio, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a driver attention monitor, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a rear-seat reminder, and alloy wheels.

Nissan Versa SR

The top-of-the-line SR starts at $18,340. It gains sport cloth upholstery with fabric inserts, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lights, a rear spoiler, proximity keyless entry, remote start, and a six-speaker stereo.

The SR is also the only trim available with heated front seats, automatic climate control, and adaptive cruise control. These are bundled in the $400 Convenience package.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Nissan dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Nissan deals page.

See 2021 Nissan Versa specs and trims »

The Final Call

The Nissan Versa impresses with its fuel economy estimates, well-mannered ride, trunk space, and refined cabin. However, you can find other subcompact cars with more dynamic performance.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "With a price that's affordable for almost everyone shopping for a new car, and an unrivaled number of active-safety features, the 2021 Nissan Versa is a competent and appealing subcompact sedan. It also boasts comfortable seats and a tranquil ride that help make daily commutes a pleasant experience." -- Car and Driver
  • "The 2020 Nissan Versa proves that buying an entry-level compact sedan doesn't mean you have to sacrifice comfort, convenience, safety and dignity. The new Versa is a marked improvement over the outgoing vehicle, and a good value." -- Autotrader (2020)
  • "Given this top-to-bottom value and when taken as a whole, the Nissan Versa is a serious contender for the top spot in the subcompact sedan market. The weak engine prevents it from being an obvious best, but that aside, the Versa is an excellent combination of attractive design, useful space, generous feature content and a competitive price. It's hard to ask much more from a car like this." -- Autoblog (2020)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: January 22, 2021

Class-Leading Sales: The Nissan Versa finished 2020 as the best-selling subcompact car. However, sales slid in 2020, falling 27.5 percent relative to 2019.

Research more buying advice »
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2021 Nissan Versa

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