Sophomore season sees Nissan adding more content to an already-value-oriented versatile Versa.
A super-sipper 109-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder posts impressive mpg numbers, especially when connected to the optional continuously variable transmission, which hits 40 mpg highway; four-speed automatic transmission now available on low-end sedans.
The Versa has always played the role of a magician, with plenty up its sleeve. It has a deceptively small footprint, but once you’re inside there’s acres of leg and headroom. It’s an approach that has earned a devoted following for the past six years, even more so with the all-new sedan’s introduction for the 2012 model year. The Versa family, including the new-for 2014 Versa Note hatchback, runs with a 109-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder that replaced the previous model’s the 107-horsepower 1.6 as well as the optional 122-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder. A five-speed manual gearbox and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) option carried over while a four-speed automatic has been reintroduced in the sedan at a price lower than models equipped with the CVT. Fuel economy with the CVT improved for 2013; it does 31 mpg in the city, but hits the 40-mpg-highway benchmark number earned by competing small cars. Part of that has to do with the sedan’s rear spoiler that makes it slipperier in the wind. The sedan’s $12,800 base price, including destination charges, makes it one of the least expensive cars on the road. The S trim level includes air conditioning and an adjustable steering wheel, however you’ll have to use window cranks — remember those? — to work the window glass, open the front doors using a key and live with a non-folding rear seat. Those items are included when you spring for the SV, along with the CVT, cruise control, power-adjustable side mirrors and up-level instrumentation and seat covers. This year, the SL also adds keyless entry, revised sun visors and a driver’s armrest in addition to alloy wheels, fog lights and upgraded audio system from last year. Both satellite radio and a navigation system are extra-cost SL options.
Base price (incl. destination): $12,800
Type: Four-door sedan
Base engine (hp): 1.6-liter DOHC I4 (109)
Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Transmission: Five-speed manual; continuously variable (opt.); four-speed automatic (opt. base sedan)
MPG (city/hwy): 31/40 (CVT)
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control
Weight (lb.): 2,350