Full 2013 Nissan Versa Review
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Nissan Versa sedan is now even more fuel-efficient when equipped with the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The hatchback body style is dropped for this year. There are also a number of new additions to the standard features and options lists.
The Nissan Versa has been a popular choice for a subcompact, and last year's complete redesign bodes well for the Versa's future. In addition to last year's upgrades, which included a roomier interior and a higher level of overall refinement, the 2013 model gets a number of new standard features and options.
Unfortunately the Versa lineup loses the practical four-door hatchback body style for 2013, though an all-new 2014 version is expected by the end of the year. That leaves the Versa sedan to carry on alone with powertrain tweaks that boost EPA fuel economy estimates to 40 mpg highway on models fitted with the CVT. Performance and handling are unspectacular, though that likely won't be a big issue for most buyers looking for affordable transportation.
Naturally, there are some other great choices for a subcompact this year, including the 2013 Chevry Sonic, 2013 Ford Fiesta and 2013 Hyundai Accent. Compared to the Versa, the Fiesta and Sonic are more enjoyable to drive, while the Accent is cheaper when comparably equipped. We'd certainly recommend looking at these other models, but if simple and inexpensive transportation is your goal, the 2013 Nissan Versa should work out well.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Nissan Versa sedan is offered in three trim levels: S, SV and SL.
The entry-level S model is pretty bare bones, with 15-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, a trip computer and a two-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio input jack. An S Plus package adds the CVT, a rear spoiler, cruise control and two rear speakers.
Stepping up to the SV model gets you keyless entry, upgraded upholstery and gauges, cloth door trim and full power accessories. The SV Convenience package adds a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls and an iPod interface.
The Versa SL sedan gets 15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, keyless ignition/entry and the contents of the SV Convenience package. The SL Tech package adds a navigation system, a compact touchscreen interface, a rearview camera and satellite radio.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Nissan Versa is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that produces 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the S, with a four-speed automatic being optional. A CVT is standard on all other Versas.
In Edmunds performance testing, the Versa sedan went from zero to 60 mph in 10.4 seconds with the CVT, which is average for this class of car. EPA estimated fuel economy stands at an excellent 31 mpg city/40 mpg highway and 35 mpg combined, though most other competitors have similar numbers. With the standard five-speed manual transmission those numbers dip to 27/36/30. The automatic is even lower at 26/35/30.
The 2013 Nissan Versa comes standard with antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum), traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, a Versa SL sedan came to a stop from 60 mph in 128 feet, which is a respectable distance for a car in this class.
In crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Versa sedan received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with three stars for frontal-impact protection and four stars for side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the Versa sedan earned a top rating of "Good" in frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The first thing that strikes you about the 2013 Nissan Versa's passenger cabin is the roominess. Nowhere is this more evident than in the backseat, where even tall adults will find a surprisingly good amount of legroom. Even the trunk is big for a car this size, with 14.8 cubic feet of cargo space available even before folding down the 60/40-split rear seatbacks that are available on SV and SL models.
Up front, the seats are fine for short hops but comfort begins to wane on longer drives. Taller drivers might find it hard to achieve a comfortable position due to the lack of a telescoping steering wheel. Gauges and controls are well-placed and intuitive, and the availability of desirable features like keyless ignition/entry and a rearview camera are a nice touch for a car with a sub-$20,000 sticker price.
On the road, the 2013 Nissan Versa's 1.6-liter engine is pretty unremarkable, but acceleration should be sufficient for most buyers. This year's fuel economy boost -- up to 40 mpg in CVT-equipped models -- makes it one of the thriftiest non-hybrid models on the road.
The CVT delivers a smooth driving experience around town, but at highway speeds it will occasionally search for its ideal ratio if you abruptly change the throttle input and you'll feel as if the power is surging.
The Versa's suspension is tuned for comfort and the result is a smooth ride quality that many subcompact models just can't match. Of course there's a price to be paid for this, namely uninspiring handling compared to most of its competitors.