2018 Nissan Versa

Performance


$12,110 MSRP
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2018 Nissan Versa Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 6.4

The 2018 Nissan Versa meets basic expectations when you consider how little it costs. The engine isn’t powerful and the car isn't fast, but it’s OK for driving around town. The ride is pleasantly smooth. And while the Versa isn’t as athletic as many competitors, it is maneuverable. Fuel economy in models with the manual transmission is a bit low for the class, but those with the CVT get typical ratings.

  • "Looking at its base price, it's easy to expect the 2018 Nissan Versa to be as rough-riding as a stage coach and just as noisy. Slow too, and with a driver's seat that feels like a milk crate. Wrong. Our Versa SV test vehicle was a pleasant surprise from behind its leather-wrapped steering wheel. It's comfortable, quiet for its class, and it feels substantial going down the road." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • We can't really complain about the driving characteristics of the Versa given its affordability, but driven back-to-back with the competition, the Versa's drawbacks are revealed." -- Autotrader (2016)
  • The Versa is also pretty uneventful to drive. Rivals like the Chevrolet Sonic and 2015 Ford Fiesta feel more alert and engaging when you're behind the wheel, for instance, and the Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent are quicker to accelerate." -- Edmunds (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The Versa features a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 109 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard in the sedan model. A continuously variable transmission (CVT), which operates like an automatic, is available in sedan models and standard in the Versa Note. The Versa is not fast (though it feels OK around town), and many other cars in the class provide better acceleration. The CVT gets decent fuel economy estimates, but it’s also a bit noisy.

With the manual transmission, the Versa gets an EPA-estimated 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. With the CVT, the Versa gets respectable ratings by subcompact car standards: 31/39 mpg city/highway.

  • No, it's not going to pamper you like a new Mercedes or thrill you like a supercar, but the Versa is agile and its little 4-cylinder engine has just enough power to move the little sedan with zip." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • The 2016 Nissan Versa sedan's 1.6-liter engine offers little in the way of excitement. Its acceleration is subpar for the class, and it gets noisy in merging or passing situations when you're hard on the gas. This is particularly true with the CVT. Noisy engine droning is a common trait in CVT-equipped cars, but most of the Versa's rivals seem more refined with their regular six-speed automatics. That said, the CVT is still the way to go considering its superior fuel economy and because it comes with the higher trim levels." -- Edmunds (2016)
  • The CVT allows power to flow to the front wheels fairly smoothly. The engine is short on hp but tries its best to keep the little vehicle gliding along at highway speeds." -- Autotrader (2016)

Handling and Braking

Like virtually every subcompact car, the Versa comes standard with front-wheel drive. Opinions are mixed over the Versa's steering feedback, but nobody can deny that this Nissan is highly maneuverable thanks to its tiny turning radius. The Versa does not handle that well, however, and many competitors are more agile. The Versa's soft suspension creates a smooth ride, even when the pavement gets rough.

  • "There's good steering feel, plus a tight turn radius that makes parking this small sedan a snap." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • In terms of driving dynamics, the Versa's soft suspension tuning provides a pretty comfortable ride when you're driving over broken and rutted pavement. The downside, though, is that the suspension and the Versa's vague steering combine to produce unremarkable and uninspiring handling." -- Edmunds (2016)
  • "The Versa feels light and flimsy in a market of surprisingly substantial subcompacts. As basic transportation, the Versa is fine. Alongside the newest offerings from its competitors, however, it pales in comparison." -- Autotrader (2015)
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