2012 Nissan Versa Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • 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.
List Price Range
$4,000 - $9,998

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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.

Vehicle overview

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.

2012 Highlights

The 2012 Nissan Versa sedan has been fully redesigned, with major improvements being made to interior roominess and fuel economy. However, the Versa hatchback carries over from last year's model with only minor changes to standard equipment.

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.

Safety

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.

Driving

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.

Interior

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.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 Nissan Versa.

5(22%)
4(24%)
3(14%)
2(21%)
1(19%)
3.1
72 reviews
Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Not Reliable
Ashley E.,07/28/2016
1.6 SV 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl CVT)
My 2012 Nissan Versa Sedan has 101k miles and the transmission is bad. I have researched and have seen where older Versa models were covered under an extended CVT warranty due to premature transmission failure. Why is this not the case for the 2012? It is completely unacceptable that a 5 year old car bought brand new, maintenanced regularly has a bad transmission. It made me stall and have no power or ability to accelerate in the middle of a busy intersection! It has done this 3 times! My children were in the car! Completely unacceptable. This is dangerous. The CVT is very poorly designed and very unreliable, not to mention dangerous. The Versa has been one problem after another. We had to replace the fuel pump at 60k mileage! That is absolutely ridiculous! This car is extremely poor designed and Nissan is no help, and does not back up its cars. Nissan is not reliable as they were once were in regards to quality and reliability. Extremely disappointed.
CVT is defective, should be recalled..
Andrew,06/06/2016
1.6 S 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl CVT)
Bought the car from a used car dealership and initially had 63k on it in Sept. 2015. Drove great for about 10k miles and then started doing weird things on me which almost felt like the car was choking out from a stop or a rolling acceleration at lower speeds. Got it looked at by goodyear down the road from me and the recommended that i get a fuel injection cleaning, which did seem to help for a little while until it started doing it again a couple thousand miles later. A few thousand miles later my engine light comes on and come to find out it was my cvt transmission all along. Worst purchase of my life hands down, had the car 8 months and put about 15k on it and now it needs a $3500+ dollar repair (as well as many others) to keep it on the road. Nissan to this point has not been helpful in any way even though they know that this is a very common problem on a very poorly manufactured design, would tell anyone and everyone to steer clear of this vehicle with the cvt transmission.
Realistic expectaiton still to much to meet for this car
manycars1,12/09/2014
Just hit 68k and the CVT is shot. First thing to give me problems were the breaks at about 12k. From there is was heat shields on the exhaust to door seals. I bought this car to get back and forth to work (150mile round trip). All I expected was a affordable car to get me to and from work at the most reasonable cost. I purchased the Nissan after comparing it to my normally purchased vehicles and it was a better value, it actually exceeded in over all space in a real world comparison to Chevy and Ford. MPG avg is 37.1 but the 10.9 tank.....10 gal usable, keeps me at the gas station every 2 to 3 days. As of now it is dead in my driveway, will not move.
BEWARE OF THE 2012 NISSAN VERSA CVT !!!
Jess B,09/24/2016
1.6 SV 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl CVT)
I have never made an automobile review before but I am so disappointed with this car that I encourage anyone who experienced this to file a class action lawsuit against Nissan. At 64,000 miles the CVT transmission failed. You will be driving on a freeway and the tachometer will start getting wacky. The rpm will jump from 1,000 to 3000 rpm and back. After sometime your transmission will seem to disengage and your rpm will drop to below 1,000 rpm. At that time you are dead! The car will slow down to a halt and even if you press your gas pedal, the engine will not increase rpm. It seems like the cvt transmission is telling the computer to prevent the car from running. I brought this to the dealer and they said they have several problems with Nissan cvt transmission and encouraged us to file our complaints to the Consumer Protection Bureau. I called Nissan and they passed me from one person to another and told me they can't help. They have no solution to the problem other than replace the CVT transmission for $3,000. I told them I never had any car before where I have to replace a transmission at 64,000 miles, 4,000 miles after their warranty expired. It is totally unfair. I reported this to the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA). If our government consumer protection agencies are doing half of their job, no one especially a big manufacturing company should be allowed to get away with this.[non-permissible content removed]

Features & Specs

MPG
30 city / 38 hwy
Seats 5
Continuously variable-speed automatic
Gas
109 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
30 city / 38 hwy
Seats 5
Continuously variable-speed automatic
Gas
109 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
30 city / 38 hwy
Seats 5
Continuously variable-speed automatic
Gas
109 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
27 city / 36 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
Gas
109 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2012 Nissan Versa features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall3 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall3 / 5
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat4 / 5
    Back Seat4 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover14.7%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2012 Nissan Versa
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.

In this revised price range, you are now competing with an impressive class of subcompact vehicles like the sporty 2012 Ford Fiesta, stylish 2012 Kia Rio and the dependable 2012 Toyota Yaris.

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).

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 $4,997 and$6,981 with odometer readings between 63684 and116965 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SV is priced between $4,000 and$6,500 with odometer readings between 65677 and154434 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 S is priced between $7,644 and$9,998 with odometer readings between 35429 and67136 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SL is priced between $4,596 and$5,399 with odometer readings between 84280 and127445 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Nissan Versa 1.8 SL is priced between $6,997 and$6,997 with odometer readings between 78177 and78177 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 16 used and CPO 2012 Versas listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $4,000 and mileage as low as 35429 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.

Can't find a used 2012 Nissan Versas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Nissan Versa for sale - 7 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $12,775.

Find a used Nissan for sale - 9 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $25,133.

Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan Versa for sale - 5 great deals out of 5 listings starting at $7,357.

Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan for sale - 2 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $20,720.

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.

Check out Nissan lease specials
Check out Nissan Versa lease specials