Used 2007 Nissan Versa Sedan
- Large interior with simple but attractive control layout, solid quality cabin materials, wide selection of features, comfortable rear seat.
- Noisy powertrain at high revs, vague steering, less than athletic handling and braking, more expensive than competing models.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Thanks to its roomy interior and long features list, the 2007 Nissan Versa is one of the best subcompacts currently available.
Acknowledging the public's recent disgust over rising fuel prices and urban congestion, Nissan has decided to introduce a new entry-level model this year. Called the Versa, this subcompact boasts fuel economy above 30 mpg, ample interior space, plenty of features and a price tag lower than Nissan's more traditional entry-level car, the Sentra.
Subcompacts are popular in most other parts of the world, and in fact the Versa has already been on sale in other countries previous to 2007. (Outside of the U.S., it's called the Tiida.) North American consumers, however, seem to have cyclical interest in this type of car. To temper this, the 2007 Nissan Versa follows a next-generation approach to subcompact design.
Number one for a next-gen approach is the car's small-and-tall body style. Though this makes the Versa look a bit goofy, there's no denying that it provides an impressive amount of interior space within a tidy footprint. The Versa is only a little shorter than the new '07 Sentra, yet it actually provides 3.5 inches more rear legroom. Only in terms of shoulder room does Nissan's subcompact suffer compared to its bigger sibling. For the debut, Nissan is releasing the hatchback body style first and will follow it up later in the year with a sedan.
Unlike the Soviet-style subcompacts of yore, the Nissan Versa comes well-equipped with the latest technology and comfort features. Under the hood is a 122-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT). This engine is one of the most powerful in this segment and the CVT promises to combine the ease of a traditional automatic with manual-like fuel economy. For features, one can get the Versa with upscale items such as Bluetooth connectivity, side and head curtain airbags, and Nissan's Intelligent Key keyless entry system.
Of the current batch of subcompacts, the 2007 Nissan Versa ranks pretty highly. Its interior is roomy and of impressive quality, and the car serves very well as a daily commuter car. The two main downsides are that it's not particularly fun to drive energetically and it's priced at the high end of the subcompact segment. These elements keep the Versa from being our top pick (that title goes to Honda's Fit), but it's still an intriguing answer to urban congestion and high fuel prices. The Versa, particularly in 1.8 SL trim, is certainly one you'll want to take a look at.
Trim levels & features
The 2007 Nissan Versa is a small four-door available as a hatchback or sedan. Two trim levels are offered: Versa 1.8 S and Versa 1.8 SL. The 1.8 S is pretty basic. It has air-conditioning, a rear wiper, a 60/40-split folding rear seat (hatchback only) and a CD player as standard, but power windows, power mirrors and keyless entry are optional. Going with the more desirable 1.8 SL provides those features as standard as well as cruise control, upgraded interior cloth, more adjustments for the driver seat and a six-CD audio system with an MP3 player jack. It also has improved interior storage, lighting and trim. Optional features for the Versa 1.8 SL include a Sport Package (featuring exterior aero trim pieces), a Convenience Package (Bluetooth connectivity, Intelligent Key keyless entry and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls), a sunroof, upgraded audio speakers and satellite radio.
Performance & mpg
The front-wheel-drive Versa comes with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine good for 122 hp and 127 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard. A four-speed automatic transmission is optional on the 1.8 S, and a CVT is optional for the 1.8 SL trim. The best fuel economy comes from the CVT-equipped Versa; the EPA rates it at 30 mpg city/36 mpg highway.
The Nissan Versa comes standard with front seat-mounted side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a tire-pressure monitor. Antilock brakes with brake assist are optional. In NHTSA crash tests, it earned a four-star rating (out of a possible five) for driver and front passenger protection in head-on collisions. Five stars were given for side-impact safety. In its frontal offset and side-impact tests, the IIHS gave the Versa a top score of "Good."
The 2007 Nissan Versa is fairly quick off the line, but once the engine reaches 4000 rpm, it begins to grumble loudly about the increased revs. Of the three transmission choices, the six-speed manual is the most satisfying, as it maximizes the available power. The CVT-equipped Versa doesn't feel quite as peppy, but most buyers should be satisfied with its performance. Over smooth pavement, the ride quality is good, but the Versa's suspension compliance over rough road surfaces doesn't impress us, as its wheels tend to hop over obstructions rather than absorb them. The car feels tall in the corners, which is accentuated by plenty of body roll. The electric power steering is also a little slow, and braking distances are longer than they should be even for this class.
The Versa's interior is spacious and well-tailored. With its tall roof, headroom isn't an issue except for NBA players, and the combined front and rear legroom lets 6-foot-plus passengers sit comfortably at all four positions. A fifth person can be wedged into the rear center seat, but only if he's especially friendly with the outboard companions. Interior controls are easy to use, but front seat comfort is only average. The hatchback's split rear seat lowers but doesn't fold flat; doing so reveals an impressive 50.4 cubic feet for your stuff. The sedan has a 13.8-cubic-foot trunk, which is respectable for a car in this segment.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
A clown car phenomenon is sweeping the auto industry. The Scion xA, Honda Fit, Kia Rio5 and Toyota Yaris are all not only comically shaped but capable of cramming five passengers into their diminutive proportions. Born out of rising gas prices and long wait lists for hybrids, this trick gets you high fuel-efficiency and a low sticker price without having to sacrifice people-hauling capability.
A new player in the subcompact circus, the 2007 Nissan Versa is the first shared platform between Nissan and its parent company Renault. Built on the carmaker's "B" platform, the Versa already populates roads all over the world as the Renault Clio and Nissan Tiida.
We've already tried out the brand-new subcompact competitors from Honda and Toyota, and were mightily impressed with the Fit, but not so much with the Yaris. Eager to see where the Versa hatchback fell into the order of small things, we sampled two versions for this first drive, one with a six-speed manual transmission and one with the optional continuously variable transmission (CVT).
When the new Versa hatchback hits dealerships in early summer 2006 (late 2006 for the sedan version), economy-car shoppers will get to choose between two trim levels. The base 1.8 S is simply equipped with air conditioning, power mirrors, a split-folding 60/40 rear seat, 15-inch wheels and a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic. If you're worried about the safety angle, Nissan has you covered, as every Versa comes standard with front-seat-mounted side airbags and full-length head curtain airbags.
Those seeking more conveniences can go with the 1.8 SL, which comes standard with alloy wheels, cruise control, power windows and locks, keyless entry, an in-dash CD changer, an auxiliary input jack for MP3 players, alloy wheels and a six-speed manual or Nissan's Xtronic CVT.
We sampled a silver 1.8 SL hatchback CVT and a blue 1.8 SL six-speed, both optioned out with the ABS Package (ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and BrakeAssist), Convenience Package (Bluetooth, a keyless ignition system and a leather-wrapped steering wheel) and a sunroof. Although a base model starts at $12,300, the 1.8 SL starts at $14,950, and our testers cost between $16,000 and $17,000.
Other options include a sport package, an audio package, satellite radio and leather seats.
Decent cosmic powers
Yes, Nissan is still offering a conventional four-speed automatic transmission as an option on the base S model. Although the carmaker expects the 1.8 S with the conventional automatic to be the volume seller, it admits it's only offering the transmission as a stopgap measure. Fact is, there just aren't enough CVTs to fill demand because the same unit will be used in the redesigned 2007 Sentra. Both cars will be built at the same plant in Mexico.
Powered by a DOHC, 1.8-liter inline four, the front-wheel-drive Versa packs 122 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 127 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. Pound on it and the engine grows loud and buzzy above 4,000 rpm, but not enough to deter us from finding its 6,500-rpm redline.
Although our CVT-equipped SL hatch provides peppy pickup when jumping on the freeway, we still prefer the Renault-designed and -built six-speed manual that seems to get more thrust out of the little engine. It also has a smooth clutch engagement and slick shifter.
Mileage with the CVT is an estimated 30 city and 36 highway versus 28/34 with the four-speed automatic and 30/34 with the six-speed manual.
At a constant cruise, the cabin is surprisingly well insulated from wind and road noise, and the ride quality is comfortable and stable at high speeds. Nissan has tuned the Versa's suspension specifically for American roads and driving styles, and the result is a little car with a solid, tied-to-the-road feel. We might even call it sporty.
The steering is also nicely weighted and precise. Often electric assist systems like the one in the Versa have an artificial feel, but not this time. The brakes, on the other hand, feel a bit wooden.
Itty bitty living space?
The Versa surprised those who boarded it after prejudging the car too small to possibly be comfortable. On a dare, one editor took off with the baby Nissan and two friends for a weekend getaway, packing up luggage for three and two days' worth of groceries. Although bringing a fourth passenger seemed unthinkable due to the overflow of cargo taking up half of the backseat, no one complained about feeling boxed in. The comfortable seats, wide-open visibility and cupholders for all (dual front and rear) helped lessen their claustrophobia.
On an errand that unwittingly landed one editor parallel-parked in front of a Southern California Nissan dealership, the Versa drew out the curious 20-person sales team, none of whom had ever laid eyes on this all-new hatchback. For entertainment's sake, two meaty 6-foot-5 car salesmen squeezed into the backseat. "It's actually comfortable back here!" they laughed, sitting shoulder to shoulder with their knees grazing the front seats.
Although the Versa is the entry-level replacement for the Sentra, which will move up a notch in price in the '07 lineup, this subcompact actually outdoes the well-known sedan in interior space. Even compared to the redesigned 2007 Sentra, the hatch offers a class-leading 38 inches of backseat legroom, beating the Sentra's 34.5 inches. The hatchback's cargo space also overshadows the Sentra's 13.1-cubic-foot trunk space with 17.8 cubic feet (13.8 for the Versa sedan).
However, alongside direct competitors like the Fit, Yaris and Rio5, the Versa isn't the tiny titan it's billed to be. Although it has the most rear legroom, the Fit surpasses it in cargo volume (21.3 cubic feet) and rear headroom (38.6 inches versus 38.3).
At your fingertips
Opinions were mixed on the Versa's interior materials quality. Swathed in a charcoal décor, both of our testers were furnished with attractive cloth upholstery and nicely textured plastics. Even the armrests on the door panels and center console are pleasantly cush. Despite the small touches of fake brushed aluminum, several editors felt the materials exuded a cheap roughness often associated with Nissans.
We liked the clean layout of the round gauges and the simple design of the radio and climate controls. Adjusting the temperature and fidgeting with audio settings while driving is a breeze. And with ample storage areas built into the doors, dash and center console, we always had a place for our knickknacks. The location of the seat controls is our only quibble. They're on the driver's right instead of the left because the door panels are too close to the seats for them to be in the traditional location. At least the driver seat is height adjustable.
Drum roll, please
The more time we spent in the 2007 Nissan Versa, the more we grew to appreciate it. Sure, many editors found its looks unappealing, but compared to other clown cars in its price range, it packs in a lot of technology, horsepower and interior space for your money. Nissan hopes that trick will distinguish the new Versa from its many rivals.
Used 2007 Nissan Versa Sedan Overview
The Used 2007 Nissan Versa Sedan is offered in the following styles: 1.8 S 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A), 1.8 SL 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl CVT), 1.8 S 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 6M), and 1.8 SL 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 6M).
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Should I lease or buy a 2007 Nissan Versa?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.