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SAFETY | 6 out of 10
Versa Sedan: Four stars overall, three stars frontal, four stars side
Versa Note hatchback: Four stars overall, three stars frontal, five stars side
Versa Sedan: 'Good,' frontal, side impact; 'good,' seat/rear; 'good,' roof strength; 'poor,' small overlap frontal
Versa Note hatchback: 'Good,' frontal,' 'Acceptable,' side impact; 'good,' seat/rear, 'acceptable,' roof strength
Easy to see what's behind and to the sides. Thick rear roof pillars compromise that just a bit, but the car still ranks high in see-out-ability.
The 2015 Nissan Versa lineup meets all of a budget-strapped, pragmatic urban commuter's needs -- until you get to safety. Whether looking at the Nissan Versa Sedan or the Versa Note hatchback, you'll find that these models' safety ratings are a bit checkered.
Feature-wise, all the typical small-car safety bases are covered. You get roof-mounted side airbags covering all outboard occupants, plus standard electronic stability control and front side-impact torso airbags.
And it takes looking at each of the U.S. crash-test ratings for both body styles, which have been tested separately, to understand that each model has some distinct occupant-protection weaknesses. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Versa Sedan 'good' ratings in most areas of testing from the agency, it gets a worrisome 'poor' rating for small overlap frontal protection. Ratings from the federal government aren't nearly as good; it earns just three stars for frontal impact from the federal government (with four stars for side impact and overall). Versa Note hatchbacks do only slightly better in the federal tests, with five stars for side impact but the same frontal and overall scores -- although they have the same lousy three-star frontal rating, at a time when nearly every car on the market does four stars or better.
You could definitely do better than the 2015 Nissan Versa if safety is your priority.