2014 Nissan Versa Review
Pros & Cons
- Roomy interior with an adult-friendly backseat
- low base price
- comfortable ride
- many available convenience features
- large trunk
- high fuel economy with CVT.
- Bland performance and driving dynamics
- noisy engine
- no telescoping steering wheel
- low-quality interior materials.
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2014 Nissan Versa sedan provides simple, spacious and inexpensive transportation.
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.
2014 Nissan Versa models
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.
Performance & mpg
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 35 mpg combined (31 mpg city/40 mpg highway), though most competitors have similar numbers. With the standard five-speed manual transmission, those numbers dip to 30 mpg combined (27 mpg city/36 mpg highway). The four-speed automatic is even lower at 30 mpg combined (26 mpg city/35 mpg highway).
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 the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. In the small-overlap frontal-offset test, however, the Versa sedan got the lowest score of "Poor." The Versa's seat/head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
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.
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.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
More About This Model
By the numbers, the 2014 Nissan Versa Note has the potential to rule the entry-level car segment. By Nissan's reckoning, this new hatchback lays claim to best-in-class fuel economy, passenger room and cargo space. The Versa Note further entices shoppers with one of the lowest sticker prices in the hatchback class, along with a few exclusive features.
But numbers don't always tell the whole story, so we got behind the wheel of the Versa Note in San Diego to see how this new hatchback stacks up.
Considering the modest $13,990 price tag for the no-frills base model, our expectations were decidedly low, and the Note easily met and sometimes exceeded them. In other areas, though, and especially compared to its competition, the little Nissan came up a little short.
High and Low Notes
In terms of styling, the 2014 Nissan Versa Note exhibits significantly more visual interest than the unimaginative Versa sedan. The designers incorporated some Nissan styling cues like headlights from the 2013 Nissan Leaf and taillights from the Z sports car, along with a strong character line on the side to break up the expansive door panels. Among competing hatchbacks, the Note's exterior design holds up well.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Note's interior, which is nearly identical to the sedan. It's the most basic of layouts, with plenty of hard plastics. Compared to competing hatchbacks, this Versa's cabin is uninteresting and dated-looking. That said, most systems and controls in our range-topping SV trim with SL Tech package test car were easy to operate and functioned as intended. Perhaps there's something to be said for simplicity, but it still doesn't need to be plain.
To the Note's credit, there is an abundance of space inside. This is especially true for the rear seats, which can comfortably accommodate full-size adults thanks to its class-leading 38.3 inches of legroom and generous headroom. Up front, there's ample space as well, but we took issue with the seats themselves.
We found the shoulder sections of the seatbacks too narrow for our 5-foot-10 frame. Had we been 3 inches shorter, it may not have been an issue. Regardless of height, we're confident that front passengers would find the hard plastic door armrests objectionable. Using both elbow perches simultaneously will make you feel as if you have scoliosis.
When it comes to cargo capacity, the Note beats the competition, with 21.4 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats. The rear seats fold flat for bigger items and there's also a built-in cargo divider to keep smaller items out of view below, while allowing larger parcels to be transported on top.
There's nothing inspiring about the way the 2014 Nissan Versa Note drives. And in this class that comes as no surprise. This isn't a car made to slice through canyons or beat other cars away from stoplights. No, the Note is just an honest and inexpensive way to get around.
The 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine makes a satisfactory 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque. The base S trim comes only with a five-speed manual, while the vast majority sold will feature a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Nissan has a reputation for producing decent CVTs, but drivers unfamiliar with shiftless driving may have to adjust to the Versa.
And shiftless is a somewhat appropriate description of this drivetrain feel. Accelerating up to highway speeds requires a firmly planted accelerator. The revs climb lazily, then remain there while the engine emits a very loud and strained mooing noise. There's little sensation that you're really making any headway until you look down at the speedometer. Once you let off the pedal, though, the bovine drone stops immediately and revs drop below the 2,000-rpm mark for quiet cruising.
Passing slower traffic or tackling steep grades takes some planning, as the CVT is mostly unresponsive until you floor the pedal once again. Then you wait for the underhood cow to awaken to pull past. When it comes to power, the Note goes no further than adequate.
We were pleasantly surprised, however, by how calm the cabin remains on the interstates. Road and wind noise are kept in check as well or better than other economical hatchbacks. With the engine revving low, long stretches behind the wheel are agreeably fatigue-free.
In the handling department, the Versa Note is also solid, as it manages to track through corners without any drama. According to Eric Vaughen, the Versa team manager, the engineers weren't shooting for sporty, instead opting for just a whiff of fun. Admittedly, catching that whiff takes some concentration.
We did pick up a lack of compliance over moderate-to-large dips and bumps, though. Small cracks and ruts were well absorbed by the tire sidewalls, but anything larger resulted in unsettlingly large reactions followed by residual rebounds. It's not unlike a rough landing in a commercial jet.
Of all the figures the new 2014 Nissan Versa Note is touting, its EPA fuel economy ratings are its most impressive. Fuel economy sees a healthy improvement for the CVT, with a 31 city/40 highway and 35 mpg combined estimate. That's up from 28/34/30 mpg from its hatchback predecessor.
Nissan accomplished this through an aggressive weight loss campaign. The engineers managed to slim down the compact hatchback by a whopping 300 pounds. Then they took it a step further by adding improved aerodynamic elements that include an active shutter grille that opens and closes according to vehicle speed.
Then there are the Versa Note's bells and whistles that may serve as further enticement. Items like heated front seats, a Google-enhanced navigation system, voice recognition, Pandora and hands-free text messaging either meet or beat rival offerings. There's also a class-exclusive around-view camera system that makes parallel parking a no-brainer.
These perks do kick up the price, of course. The range-topping SV trim with option packages stickers at $19,280.
The 2014 Nissan Versa Note's low price of admission will certainly have an undeniable appeal for tight budgets. The Note undercuts the perennial favorite 2013 Honda Fit by $1,435, a sizable savings for a car in this class. On the other hand, the 2013 Kia Rio hatchback beats the Versa by $190 so it's not the least expensive choice in the class.
More likely than not, deciding on the Versa Note will come down to the bottom line at both the dealer and the gas pump. In that regard, sensibility will keep it humming along just fine.
Yes, you can do better when it comes to interior design and ride refinement, but it'll cost you. The new Note delivers on the basics: great fuel economy, a spacious interior and predictable handling. Nothing exciting, nothing surprising, just straightforward utility and efficiency in a cleanly styled package.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2014 Nissan Versa Overview
The Used 2014 Nissan Versa is offered in the following submodels: Versa Sedan. Available styles include 1.6 SV 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl CVT), 1.6 S Plus 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl CVT), 1.6 S 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 5M), 1.6 S 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl 4A), and 1.6 SL 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl CVT).
What's a good price on a Used 2014 Nissan Versa?
Price comparisons for Used 2014 Nissan Versa trim styles:
- The Used 2014 Nissan Versa 1.6 SL is priced between $6,499 and$8,988 with odometer readings between 40504 and83303 miles.
- The Used 2014 Nissan Versa 1.6 S is priced between $10,998 and$10,998 with odometer readings between 46792 and46792 miles.
- The Used 2014 Nissan Versa 1.6 S Plus is priced between $5,885 and$5,885 with odometer readings between 76938 and76938 miles.
- The Used 2014 Nissan Versa 1.6 SV is priced between $5,445 and$5,445 with odometer readings between 124954 and124954 miles.
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Which used 2014 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) 2014 Nissan Versa for sale near. There are currently 5 used and CPO 2014 Versas listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,445 and mileage as low as 40504 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 Carfax and Autocheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2014 Nissan Versa.
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Find a used Nissan Versa for sale - 3 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $9,383.
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Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan Versa for sale - 12 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $8,455.
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Should I lease or buy a 2014 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.