2012 Nissan Versa Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Roomy interior with an adult-friendly backseat
- comfortable ride
- many available convenience features
- large trunk
- excellent sedan fuel economy.
- Bland driving dynamics
- sedan missing a few features found on hatchback
- so-so fuel economy for hatchback.
The 2012 Nissan Versa sedan is all-new for 2012, but the Versa hatchback is not. There are loads of differences, but both body styles provide simple, spacious and inexpensive transportation.
The 2012 Nissan Versa is a tale of two cars. The Versa sedan has been completely redesigned for 2012. It's more efficient, spacious and refined, while its styling is less bulbous. The Versa hatchback, however, soldiers on in its previous guise with only standard feature upgrades on which to hang its hat. This certainly tips the scales in the newer sedan's favor, but those looking for the added versatility of a hatchback will still find it an appealing choice.
In terms of exterior size, the new 2012 Versa sedan is largely unchanged. Under the hood is a new 1.6-liter engine good for 109 horsepower. It's actually less powerful than the previous 1.8-liter engine still used in the hatchback, but it has less weight to move around, as the sedan weighs 150 pounds less this year. Fuel economy is up, and when equipped with the revised continuously variable automatic transmission, the Versa sedan achieves an impressive 33 mpg combined EPA estimate. That's better than a Honda Fit and tied with the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent (with automatic transmissions). The sedan's also between 3 and 6 mpg better than the hatchback depending on transmission.
Inside the cabin, the Versa continues to provide a wealth of space for passengers. Thanks to an upright seating position with a high hip point, the Versa sedan's backseat is actually more spacious and comfortable than a multitude of bigger cars. These characteristics also apply to the hatchback, which has the added benefit of a larger, more practical cargo area. Even so, the sedan particularly benefits from its new, more attractive cabin design for 2012 along with better materials.
Inevitably, though, your choice is more complicated than simply Versa versus Versa. The subcompact class is now filled with desirable little cars. The Honda Fit is the practicality champ, with its innovative flat-folding seats and giant cargo area. The Chevy Sonic and Ford Fiesta feel like more substantial cars to drive, and strike an excellent balance between ride and handling. The Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio have also just been redesigned with excellent results. In other words, the 2012 Nissan Versa might be a tale of two cars, but shopping for a subcompact in 2012 will likely be a more expansive proposition in any case.
2012 Nissan Versa models
The 2012 Nissan Versa is available in sedan and hatchback body styles, but each represents different vehicle generations. The sedan is all-new for 2012, whereas the hatchback represents the previous generation first introduced for 2007.
The Versa sedan comes in three trim levels: S, SV and SL. The S is pretty bare-bones, with 15-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a trip computer and a two-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. When equipped with an automatic transmission, the S Cruise Control package adds a trunk light, two rear speakers and (obviously) cruise control.
Stepping up to the Versa SV sedan adds the Cruise Control package, full power accessories, keyless entry, upgraded upholstery and upgraded gauges. The SV Convenience package adds Bluetooth and an iPod interface. The Versa SL sedan gets 15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat and the contents of the SV Convenience package. The SL Tech package adds a navigation system, a compact touchscreen interface and satellite radio.
The Versa hatchback is available in S and SL trim levels. The base S comes with 15-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The Plus package adds keyless entry and cruise control. With an automatic transmission, the S can also be equipped with a number of options. The Convenience package adds the Plus package, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls and an iPod interface. Also available are 15-inch alloy wheels. The Special Edition package effectively groups all of the above equipment together.
The Versa hatchback SL includes all the S model's optional equipment and tops it with keyless ignition/entry, a height-adjustable driver seat, upgraded upholstery, front and rear center armrests, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a six-speaker sound system. Available on the SL and S Special Edition is a Navigation package that adds the navigation system, a compact touchscreen interface and satellite radio.
Performance & mpg
The 2012 Nissan Versa sedan is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that produces 109 hp and 107 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the S, while a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is optional on the S and standard on the SV and SL. The sedan has less power than its hatchback sibling, and although it does weigh less, acceleration is worse. In Edmunds performance testing, it went from zero to 60 mph in 10.4 seconds with the CVT. Fuel economy is much better, however, with an EPA-estimated 30 mpg city/38 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined with the CVT. Getting the standard five-speed manual drops those estimates to 27/36/30.
The 2012 Nissan Versa hatchback is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that produces 122 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is standard on the S, while a four-speed automatic is optional. In Edmunds performance testing, a manual-equipped Versa hatchback went from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 26 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined with the manual and 24/32/27 with the automatic. The Versa hatchback SL comes standard with a CVT, which brings fuel economy up to 28/34/30.
Regardless of body style, the 2012 Nissan Versa comes standard with antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum), brake assist, traction and stability control, front seat side airbags and 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. The Versa hatchback earned three stars for overall frontal crash protection, but the government had not published the overall or side ratings for 2012 as of this writing. For 2011, however, the hatchback earned just two stars for overall and side-impact protection.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the Versa sedan earned a top rating of "Good" for its protection of occupants in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests. The Versa hatchback received a "Good" in the frontal-offset test, but the second-best rating of "Acceptable" in the side and roof strength tests.
The new 2012 Nissan Versa sedan features a smaller engine than its more potent hatchback sibling. Acceleration is a bit worse, but the gain in fuel economy should be worth it for most drivers.
Regardless of body style, you can expect a comfortable ride, as the Versa is one of the more plush subcompacts on the market. Those expecting a zesty driving experience from a small car will be disappointed, though, as the Versa lacks the athletic feel of the Chevy Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit and, to be honest, just about everything else as well. The Versa is A-to-B transport and nothing more. Still, the sedan is an improvement over the hatchback, thanks to its revised steering and suspension.
While the interiors of the Versa sedan and hatchback differ in design, their basic virtues are similar. They have remarkably roomy cabins, with a generous amount of legroom that allows 6-footers to sit in back. The Versa's overstuffed front seats are comfortable enough during hour-long commutes, but support fades over long drives.
The controls are easy to use and well placed, while features like navigation, Bluetooth and an iPod interface are welcome touches in this price range (though certainly no longer unique). Overall materials quality is decent for the class, though the new sedan is nicer. Trunk space is enormous for a subcompact sedan, with 14.8 cubic feet of space. The hatchback nets a maximum of 50 cubic feet, which is quite large, but falls short of the Honda Fit and its flat load floor.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
NHTSA Overall Rating4 out of 5 stars
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall3 / 5Driver4 / 5Passenger3 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall4 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall3 / 5Driver3 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat4 / 5Back Seat4 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover14.7%
- Side Impact TestGood
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
More About This Model
With a base price of $10,990, the 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 S is the least expensive new car in America. Its roll-up windows, manual door locks and two-speaker sound system are as bare-bones as it gets these days. It's all you need. Or is it?
The base model of any given vehicle is meant to entice you onto the showroom floor of a car dealership. Maybe you've seen such a car in a newspaper ad that carries the headline, "One at This Price!" You can't help but wonder if less is really more. Intrigued, you visit the dealership, take a look at the car, and just out of curiosity about a few more convenience features, you utter those fateful words, "Can you show me something a little nicer?" And then as usual you buy something a little more expensive than you can afford.
The question is, what kind of car can you get for $11,000? Is it a bargain, real value for money? Or is it a stripped-down shell of disappointment? It's a very interesting sort of automotive calculus. What do you get in the cheapest car sold in America? And what's more important, the newness of the car or the quality of the features?
At this price point, you cannot ignore the prospect of a lightly used car, which probably has more features for the same amount of money. In fact, for the same price as a base-model 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 S, you can get a three-year-old Nissan Sentra with twice the number of standard features. Go back a couple more years and that same $11K can get you the larger and more refined Nissan Altima.
If you're like 90 percent of the car-buying public, the base price of this 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 S is a bit deceptive, because chances are, you'll want an automatic transmission. This is the model we tested and the automatic adds $2,130 to the price tag. Tack on the standard $780 destination fee and suddenly this $11K car is a stone's throw away from $14,000.
Used 2012 Nissan Versa Overview
The Used 2012 Nissan Versa is offered in the following submodels: Versa Hatchback, Versa Sedan. Available styles include 1.8 S 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 4A), 1.6 SV 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl CVT), 1.6 S 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl CVT), 1.6 SL 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl CVT), 1.8 SL 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl CVT), 1.6 S 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 5M), and 1.8 S 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 6M). Pre-owned Nissan Versa models are available with a 1.8 L-liter gas engine or a 1.6 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 122 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2012 Nissan Versa comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed automatic, continuously variable-speed automatic. The Used 2012 Nissan Versa comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2012 Nissan Versa?
Price comparisons for Used 2012 Nissan Versa trim styles:
- The Used 2012 Nissan Versa 1.8 S is priced between $6,900 and$10,599 with odometer readings between 83057 and92651 miles.
Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.
Which used 2012 Nissan Versas are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 Nissan Versa for sale near. There are currently 3 used and CPO 2012 Versas listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,900 and mileage as low as 83057 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 Nissan Versa.
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Find a used Nissan Versa for sale - 7 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $23,617.
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Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan Versa for sale - 5 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $24,451.
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Should I lease or buy a 2012 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.