2017 Versa New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Versa offers no-frills transportation in sedan and hatchback form. Roomy inside and promising a comfortable ride, the Versa serves especially well as an urban commuter. Price of entry is often a strong selling point.
Except for a revised console with bigger cupholders, little has changed on the Versa sedan for the 2017 model year. The styling looks dated. A new Special Edition option group is available for SV models. Versa Note hatchbacks get a revised front end with swept-back headlights, plus new wheel designs.
Redesigned for 2013, Versa was lightly refreshed for 2015. One of the least expensive new cars on the market, it's economical to drive, though a tad less thrifty than some, considering its light weight and low-power engine.
All Versas contain the same engine: a 109-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder, mating with either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Only the S sedan gets manual shift, and it's markedly less fuel-efficient than Versas with the CVT.
Sedans come in four trim levels: S, S Plus, SV, and SL. Versa Note hatchbacks are offered in S Plus, SV, SL, and SR form.
Versa S sedans are sparsely-equipped, with roll-up windows and manual door locks. S Plus adds cruise control and the CVT. SV adds keyless entry as well as power windows, locks, and mirror. SL features appearance upgrades and standard navigation, but raises the price considerably.
With SV trim, a Special Edition package is available with alloy wheels, foglamps, a rearview camera, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 5.0-inch display screen, and Bluetooth streaming audio.
Nissan offers no advanced active-safety systems for the Versa, however.
Back in 2015, crash-testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Versa sedan just three stars for frontal impact, and four stars for side impact and overall. Subsequent retesting raised the score to four stars in each test. The Note hatchback got five stars for side impact but a troubling three-star result for the frontal collision. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has awarded the Versa sedan its top Good rating in all tests except tougher small-overlap frontal crash test.
The 2017 Nissan Versa S sedan ($11,990) has 5-speed manual shift, plus air conditioning and an audio system with four speakers, a CD player, and Bluetooth support for a mobile phone. (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.) S Plus sedan ($13,990) is CVT-only, gaining cruise control, body-color power mirrors, and a rear spoiler that improves aerodynamics.
Versa Note S Plus ($15,480) is the entry-level hatchback.
Versa SV sedan ($15,580) includes power windows and locks, keyless entry, height adjustment for the driver's seat, upgraded cloth upholstery, and USB input for the audio system. Versa Note SV ($16,380) is the hatchback version.
Versa SL sedan ($17,140) gets its own alloy wheels, navigation, and a proximity key with keyless ignition. Versa Note SL ($18,710) includes NissanConnect with navigation and apps, a 5.8-inch touchscreen, heated front seats, Around View monitor, and SiriusXM Travel Link.
Versa Note SR hatchback ($17,980) comes with body-color side sills, foglamps, a rear spoiler, suede-like seat upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and 16-inch alloy wheels.