2016 Nissan Versa Review
Pros & Cons
- Roomy interior with an adult-friendly backseat
- low base price
- comfortable ride
- large trunk
- high fuel economy with CVT.
- Bland performance and driving dynamics
- noisy engine
- no telescoping steering wheel.
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2016 Nissan Versa sedan provides comfortable, spacious and inexpensive transportation, and comes with a generous choice of available amenities. Just don't expect much in terms of personality or driver engagement.
The 2016 Nissan Versa is a subcompact sedan that's famous for its bargain-basement starting price. But did you know that the Versa also offers one of the roomiest rear seats in its segment? That makes this economy sedan a natural choice for buyers who anticipate hitting the road with a full load of passengers. What's more, a remarkably spacious trunk means none of them needs to worry about packing light.
The 2016 Nissan Versa's inoffensive styling is representative of how it drives.
Here's the thing, though: The list of standard equipment for entry-level Versa models is quite modest. And once you move to the upper trim levels with their more generous feature sets, you'll find that most of the Versa's initial price advantage has been negated. As such, this Nissan may make sense if all you need is a sensible, spacious car on the cheap. But if you're expecting much in the way of modern amenities, you might be in for a bit of sticker shock from less value-oriented Versa trims.
Drive the Nissan Versa sedan back to back with competitors like the 2016 Chevrolet Sonic, 2016 Ford Fiesta and the new 2016 Scion iA and you'll find that its handling feels lackluster by comparison. The 2016 Hyundai Accent and 2016 Kia Rio also offer zestier acceleration, and all of the above provide more style inside and out. But if "roomy" and "inexpensive" are priorities for your next subcompact sedan, the 2016 Nissan Versa remains a worthy option.
2016 Nissan Versa models
The 2016 Nissan Versa sedan is offered in four trim levels: S, S Plus, SV and SL. The Nissan Versa Note hatchback is covered in a separate review.
The entry-level S model comes with 15-inch steel wheels, body-color power mirrors, manual locks and windows, a tilt-only steering wheel, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a trip computer and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, steering wheel audio controls and an auxiliary audio input jack.
The S Plus gets a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT), a rear spoiler and cruise control.
Stepping up to the SV model nets you remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, upgraded upholstery and interior trim, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a height-adjustable driver seat with an armrest, upgraded instrumentation, map lights and a USB port.
The optional SV Appearance package adds 15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, chrome exterior trim and variable intermittent wipers. The SV Tech package adds a voice-controlled navigation system with a 5.8-inch touchscreen, smartphone-app integration, Bluetooth streaming audio, a hands-free text-messaging feature and a rearview camera.
The SL trim starts with the contents of the aforementioned Appearance and Tech packages, and it upgrades to 16-inch alloy wheels, side mirrors with integrated turn signals, keyless ignition and entry, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Performance & mpg
The front-wheel-drive 2016 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 Versa models.
Acceleration is below average for the segment, but the Versa's fuel economy is fully competitive as long as you get the CVT.
In Edmunds performance testing, a Versa sedan with the CVT went from zero to 60 mph in 10.4 seconds, which is about a half-second slower than the average subcompact sedan.
With the CVT, EPA estimated fuel economy stands at an excellent 35 mpg combined (31 city/40 highway), though most competitors make similar numbers. With the standard five-speed manual transmission, those numbers dip to 30 mpg combined (27/36). The four-speed automatic also gets 30 mpg combined (26/35).
The 2016 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 standard on the SL and optional on the SV. Another worthwhile feature is the SL's Easy-Fill tire 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 5 feet longer than the segment average.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, last year's 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.
The 2016 Nissan Versa sedan's 1.6-liter engine offers little in the way of excitement. Its acceleration is subpar for the class, and it gets noisy in merging or passing situations when you're hard on the gas. This is particularly true with the CVT. Noisy engine droning is a common trait in CVT-equipped cars, but most of the Versa's rivals seem more refined with their regular six-speed automatics. That said, the CVT is still the way to go considering its superior fuel economy and because it comes with the higher trim levels.
Don't expect much excitement from the way the 2016 Nissan Versa drives.
In terms of driving dynamics, the Versa's soft suspension tuning provides a pretty comfortable ride when you're driving over broken and rutted pavement. The downside, though, is that the suspension and the Versa's vague steering combine to produce unremarkable and uninspiring handling.
Inside the 2016 Nissan Versa you'll find spacious front seats that are fine for short trips, but not as comfortable on long drives. The fact that lower trim levels don't have a height-adjustable driver seat will put shorter drivers at a particular disadvantage, and the lack of a telescoping steering wheel can make it difficult for just about everybody to find an ideal driving position. The adult-friendly rear seats are worthy of special mention, though. It's almost unheard of to find 6-footer-friendly legroom and headroom in a subcompact sedan. In this regard, the Versa stands alone.
The Versa's interior is quite spartan, but passenger space is surprisingly generous
Gauges and controls are easy to understand and use on the fly. The availability of a rearview camera and a voice-controlled infotainment and navigation system is a plus, though as noted, specifying such options takes a bite out of the Versa's value proposition. Practicality comes in the form of the large 14.8-cubic-foot trunk that can be expanded with the fold-down rear seatbacks that are standard on SV and SL models.