The Nissan Versa is affordable transportation that has an appealing price—especially for students. It’s not quick but it is spacious, especially in hatchback form.
The 2018 Nissan Versa sedan and hatchback are all about a number, and it’s not our overall score. Basic, affordable transportation starts on the back foot in our ratings system because those cars prioritize price—usually at a cost paid by lagging comfort, performance, and style.
At just $12,875 to start, the Nissan Versa sedan is one of the most affordable new cars on the market today and we’re guessing that matters more than our 4.6 overall rating. That score would likely be lower if the Versa were subjected to newer crash tests, which it’s mercifully avoided. Only fuel economy buoys a sinking ranking. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
We don’t have to look far to find a Versa we like, however. The Versa Note hatchback, which doesn’t share any sheet metal with the sedan, looks better, is more practical for most drivers, and has more rear leg room. Opting for the hatchback tacks on hundreds to the final price of what’s likely going to be a budget-driven decision for many shoppers, so we acquiesce that many buyers will pick the sedan over the hatchback.
This year, the sedan carries on with few changes from last year. The price stays the same, as does the modest content in base S trims that have an inline-4 mated to a 5-speed manual. We’re guessing many buyers will consider the S Plus, which swaps the manual for a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that offers much better gas mileage, but the value proposition isn’t there for us: it costs thousands more for an autobox and cruise control.
We’d advise buyers to scrounge for more change and look at the SV model that offers upgraded cloth and an optional popular equipment package that plugs in a 5.0-inch touchscreen, alloy wheels, and rearview camera.
Nissan hasn’t yet clued us in on what the Versa Note will look like for 2018, but it’s likely the same story as last year, when its exterior received a needed makeover.
The hatchback doesn’t offer a manual, but it doesn’t need it. Starting with S Plus, the hatchback ascends to SV, SR and top-trim SL models that offer navigation, 16-inch wheels, and a 5.8-inch touchscreen for almost $20,000 to start.