The 2017 Nissan Versa is built around a simple philosophy: If cheap is good, then cheaper is better. With a nominal starting base price of $11,990 (before destination charges), it's among the very least expensive new cars sold in the United States. But this tiny, teeny, extraordinarily ordinary front-wheel-drive four-door isn't without its charms. But, of course, the charming starts with the pricing.
Keeping that in mind, the Versa is roomy inside relative to its puny exterior, it rides well considering its relatively unsophisticated suspension, and the trunk holds an amazing amount of stuff. Is it fun to drive? If you're the type of person who daydreams about how much money you haven't spent, it's a total blast. The rest of us, however, know what lackluster feels like when we drive it.
The most basic Versa is the S that at least includes a hands-free Bluetooth cellphone hookup plumbed into its standard AM/FM/CD sound system. And it rides on 15-inch-diameter wheels built from genuine steel, too. Like all Versa models, it's powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that strives for adequacy and achieves 109 horsepower. It's backed by either a five-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic transmission.
One step from there is the S Plus, which adds a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), cruise control, a rear deck spoiler and another $2,140 to the bottom line. After that, it's a march up the line through the mainstream SV, SV Special Edition and line-topping SL. And up at the SL mezzanine, items such as 16-inch alloy wheels, a rearview camera and remotely controlled outside mirrors are part of the deal.
A cheap car ought to be cheap to operate and the Versa's fuel economy ought to keep the total financial outlay modest. The S with the manual transmission is EPA rated at 30 mpg combined (27 city/36 highway). Versa models equipped with the CVT automatic are rated at 34 mpg combined (31 city/39 highway). The numbers for the four-speed automatic transmission offered in the S fail to impress: 29 mpg combined (26 city/35 highway).
There's nothing pretentious about the Versa, no matter what the trim level. This is a car that's optimized for basic transportation and that it does quite well.
Keeping things cheap means having a keen knowledge of both the car you're buying and the market environment in which you're buying it. That's exactly what Edmunds is committed to helping you achieve as you look for the 2017 Nissan Versa that's right for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.