- Used-car money buys you a new car
- Hatchback’s stylish silhouette
- Big-car ride quality
- Engine noise (with CVT)
- Overly light steering feel
- Relatively clumsy handling
For those focused on getting the most comfort and practicality for the least money, the 2011 Nissan Versa is a market standout.
The 2011 Nissan Versa is one of the lowest-priced vehicles for sale in the U.S., but that doesn't mean it's exclusively the domain of misers. The Versa can be equipped quite well for a small, low-priced vehicle and, in some ways, can rival the comforts of a larger, more sophisticated car.
The Versa is offered in two different body styles, a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback. As a hatchback, the Versa looks considerably more elegant and complete as a design, with the gently curved roofline and kicked-up back pillar. Versa sedans look a little tall and homely, and the proportions don't work out as well. From the back, hatchbacks are helped out a bit with their swoop. Inside, the Versa makes no claims of being upscale; it's a no-frills device but cleanly designed, with an upright, squared-off instrument panel that's refreshingly simple.
The 2011 Nissan Versa has all the basics for decent small-car performance, but when it's all added up there's something missing in the details that leaves the overall execution uninspired. We'd recommend either the 1.6-liter manual, or the 1.8-liter with the manual or the CVT, as neither engine deals well with the four-speed automatic's wide ratios; the CVT has its own drawbacks though, in that it can become boomy when accelerating, even slightly, at highway speeds.
In all, you won't ever mistake the 2011 Versa for a sporty car. The 2011 Versa is very softly sprung, and it weighs significantly more than many of its rivals, which together hurts handling for those looking to hotfoot around corners, but there's enough body control to keep it feeling safe and secure. Steering is rather light, and only somewhat communicative, and brake-pedal feel tends on the mushy side even though stopping distances are good.
Compared to other cars in its class, the 2011 Versa is exceptionally roomy in both sedan and hatch guises, with plenty of headroom. The hatchback has a generous 17.8 cubic feet of cargo space with the backseat up, trunk space is vast for such a small car in the sedan, and Nissan says the amount of interior space approaches that of mid-size cars. The 2011 Nissan Versa rides very comfortably—so much so, that you're likely to think you're in a larger vehicle. More importantly, the Versa has a relatively quiet interior with little road noise when cruising at highway speeds—although the ride does get a little pitchier at, say, 80 mph, and reveal that you are indeed in a small car. Smaller 14-inch wheels, although they don't look as nice, seem to offer a better ride at no detriment to handling.
Depending on what trim you choose, the 2011 Nissan Versa can range from well under $11k, including destination, to approaching the $20k mark. It all depends on what you're seeking; in its Versa Base form, this is an economy car in the traditional sense—no air conditioning, no A/C even—but with the right options the 2010 Nissan Versa can be outfitted like a larger, more luxurious car. In range-topping SL trim, buyers are treated to upgrades such as a 180-watt system with a built-in six-disc changer, six speakers, and an auxiliary input, plus cruise control, available 16-inch alloy wheels, height-adjustable seats, a rear center armrest with cup holders, keyless entry, an overhead console, and power locks, windows, and mirrors.