Full 2014 Nissan Versa Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Nissan Versa sees some minor changes to available options packages and trim levels, but otherwise it is unchanged.
The 2014 Nissan Versa is a subcompact car built with two central priorities: getting you where you're going and doing it on the cheap. The Versa isn't designed to thrill in the corners or press you back against the seat during acceleration. But it does take you from Point A to Point B, and considering its low price, its cabin accommodations are respectable.
For 2014, the Nissan Versa continues to be a practical option for buyers who don't want to spend a lot on a new car. In fact, the Versa S has held the crown as the cheapest new car available in the United States for more than two years. It's not abundantly equipped, but it provides the same utility as many competitors do for much less.
On top of this, the Versa boasts a rare attribute in this segment: an extremely spacious backseat that provides plenty of legroom even for adults. This is a major advantage for those who frequently ferry taller passengers who would likely be uncomfortable in most of the Versa's less spacious rivals.
Although performance and handling typically aren't primary concerns for consumers shopping in this class, they still might factor into your decision after you take a few test-drives. The Versa falls a bit flat here: Apart from its comfortable ride, it's not a particularly inspiring car to drive. Competing subcompacts such as the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit are more enjoyable, for example, thanks to their sharper handling and steering. The Hyundai Accent and Chevrolet Sonic sprint to 60 mph more quickly than the Versa and still get very good fuel economy.
Equipping the 2014 Nissan Versa to match other base-model subcompacts takes away some of its cost advantage as well, so you need to pay attention to all of the numbers before you decide. But if having plenty of space for your passengers and sticking to your budget are a top priority, the Nissan Versa is a great place to start.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Nissan Versa sedan is offered in four trim levels: S, S Plus, SV and SL. Buyers interested in the hatchback version should check out the recently introduced Nissan Versa Note, which is covered in a separate review.
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.
The S Plus gets a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT), a rear spoiler, cruise control and two rear speakers.
Stepping up to the SV model gets you keyless entry, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, a six-way adjustable driver seat with armrest, upgraded upholstery and gauges, cloth door trim and full power accessories. The SV Convenience package adds 15-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth phone connectivity, steering wheel audio controls, a USB/iPod interface, a front-passenger vanity mirror, map lights and passenger grab handles.
The Versa SL sedan has all of the items from the SV Convenience package as standard along with 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry and Nissan's Easy-Fill system. The SL Tech package adds a navigation system, a 5.8-inch touchscreen interface, a rearview camera, satellite radio and upgraded Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2014 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, and a four-speed automatic is optional. A CVT is standard on all other Versas.
In Edmunds performance testing, the Versa sedan with the CVT went from zero to 60 in 10.4 seconds, which is average for this class of car. With the CVT, EPA estimated fuel economy stands at an excellent 31 mpg city/40 mpg highway and 35 mpg combined, though most competitors have similar numbers. With the standard five-speed manual transmission, those numbers dip to 27/36/30. The four-speed automatic is even lower at 26/35/30.
The 2014 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. A rearview camera is optional on the Versa SL. Another worthwhile feature is the SL's tire pressure alert system, which makes it easier to add air to your tires by sounding the horn when you've achieved the correct psi.
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-impact and roof-strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The first thing that strikes you about the 2014 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 generous amount of legroom. Even the trunk is big for a car this size, with 14.8 cubic feet of cargo space available before you fold down the 60/40-split-folding rear seats that are standard in the SV and SL models.
The front seats are fine for short hops, but comfort wanes on longer drives. Taller drivers might find it hard to achieve a comfortable position due to the lack of a telescoping steering wheel. The quality of the interior materials is low, even for the subcompact segment, but gauges and controls are at least well placed and intuitive. The availability of desirable features such as keyless ignition/entry and a rearview camera is a nice touch for a car with a sub-$20,000 sticker price.
On the road, the 2014 Nissan Versa sedan's 1.6-liter engine is pretty unremarkable, but acceleration should be sufficient for most buyers. With a 35 mpg rating in combined driving for CVT-equipped models, the Versa is one of the thriftiest non-hybrid cars on the road.
The CVT is smooth and unobtrusive around town, but it can have the engine revving noisily if you abruptly press down on the gas pedal (in a highway passing situation, for instance) as it searches for its ideal ratio. This is a common complaint with CVTs that are paired with small four-cylinder engines, and most owners get used to this trait over time.
The Versa's suspension is tuned for comfort, and the result is a smooth ride quality that many subcompact models can't match. On the other hand, the small Nissan's steering and handling are pretty uninspiring compared with most competitors. You'll probably never notice those characteristics if you only drive your Nissan Versa to the office and back, but if you want something more fun, the Fiesta and Fit are worth a look.