2011 Nissan Versa Review

Consumer Reviews
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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
December 29, 2010

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.

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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.

6

2011 Nissan Versa

Styling

The 2011 Nissan Versa isn’t very exciting, although the hatchback models feel a little more stylish.

The 2011 Nissan 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. While all models share the same interior design, they vary quite dramatically from 1.6 Base models up to top 1.8 SL models, with dull plastics and plenty of spacers and blanks replaced by mate-metallic trims and upgraded surfaces. As they should, we suppose, as top SLs can cost nearly twice as much as the entry model.

Review continues below
6

2011 Nissan Versa

Performance

The 2011 Nissan Versa is a competent performer in every way, but not inspiring.

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.

The base-level model is appropriately named the Nissan Versa Base, fitted with a 1.6-liter engine. Sitting above this are the S- and SL-level trims, both of which are more expensive but pack more standard features into the Versa. The 1.6-liter is only offered on the Versa and Versa Base sedans—it's not available with the hatchback—and makes 107 horsepower, with a five-speed manual, rather than a six-speed; but we like the nice, neat linkage and smooth clutch uptake with either manual gearbox. The 1.8-liter, 122-horsepower four-cylinder engine that was previously standard is now offered on the rest of the line and comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, while Nissan's continuously variable Xtronic CVT transmission is available on the top SL Hatchback model. Meanwhile 1.8-liter S models get either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic.

Overall, the 1.6-liter version does just fine around town, though it does feel a little more winded on the highway. 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 auto'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.

Review continues below
9

2011 Nissan Versa

Comfort & Quality

For such an inexpensive car, the 2011 Nissan Versa hits all the right marks for practicality and offers surprisingly strong levels of comfort and space.

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. We find headroom and legroom to be plentiful, although shoulder room is obviously affected by the Versa's narrower size when compared to mid-size vehicles.

Surprisingly for such a cheap car, the dash, instrument panel, and switchgear feel like they were lifted from some of Nissan's more expensive offerings. Those with long commutes will especially appreciate the seats in the 2010 Nissan Versa, which are among the most comfortable of any small car. Also, the wide-opening doors in back provide for refreshingly easy entry and exit.

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.

Storage inside the cabin is another strong point; there are up to six cupholders, and plenty of storage cubbies, and even though some of the materials along the doors and inside the trunk are a little skimpy, the instrument panel is dressed up on par with more expensive vehicles. Thanks to the rather soft, isolated suspension tuning, the Versa's cabin doesn't involve much road noise, but wind noise can be a an issue on long hauls.

Review continues below
6

2011 Nissan Versa

Safety

With base models that don’t include all the safety essentials and unimpressive federal safety ratings, the Versa is no longer a good choice for the most security-minded.

Beginning last year, Nissan buffed up the Versa with more standard safety equipment, adding anti-lock brakes as standard on the Versa S. The Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) system is still not available on the Base Versa but optional on the Versa S. Both ABS and VDC come as standard on the range-topping Versa SL.

Crash-test results are good but not class-leading; the 2011 Nissan Versa achieves top 'good' ratings from the insurance-affiliated IIHS in frontal, side, and rear impact tests, but it hasn't yet been tested for roof strength. In the federal government's revised safety ratings and more thorough crash-test system, the news isn't so good; the Versa gets just two out of five stars overall, with only three stars in the frontal category and two stars for side crash protection; in the new side pole test, which simulates a side collision with a tree or pole, the Versa was also rated just two stars.

Outward visibility is certainly part of safety, too, and in the Versa that's quite good. From editors' experience, Versa sedans tend to afford a slightly better view out as the thick rear pillar in hatchbacks can be slightly obscuring.

Review continues below
8

2011 Nissan Versa

Features

The 2011 Nissan Versa can be bargain-basement basic or very well-appointed, depending on your budget. Bluetooth should be more widely offered, though.

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.

If opting for the Versa hatchback in SL trim, Nissan offers new front and rear fascias, body side sills, and a rear spoiler, as well as standard fog lights. There have also been some upgrades to the interior of the Versa SL hatchback, with revised fabrics and finishes and a Sport interior as standard. Major options on the Versa include Intelligent Key, Bluetooth compatibility, a Rockford Fosgate subwoofer, an MP3 player input jack, and a new Navigation/XM Satellite Radio package. One disappointment is that Bluetooth remains only offered on the SL.

Standard features across the lineup include a rear-window defroster, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, intermittent windshield wipers, and full-length side-curtain airbags. And for 2011, power windows have been made standard on all Versa models. The Nissan Versa S is much better equipped, with plenty of standard features, such as a 120-watt AM/FM/CD sound system with four speakers, a rear defroster, and air conditioning with filtration.

Review continues below
7

2011 Nissan Versa

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is a major disappointment for those who expect the Versa to be a fuel-stingy commuter car.

Considering the size and competitive set of the 2011 Nissan Versa, fuel economy figures are disappointing even is they aren't bad next to most other new vehicles. There are five powertrain combinations in all offered for the 2011 Versa, but they all range between 24 and 28 mpg in the city and 31 and 34 on the highway. Counterintuitively, figures aren't really any better for the base 1.6-liter models compared to those with the 1.8-liter; the larger engine and CVT automatic (1.8 SL) top the scale at 28/34, with the six-speed manual and 1.6-liter getting 26/34. 1.8 S models with the four-speed automatic are rated just 24 city.

Indeed, in real-world drives, our editors have seen fuel economy figures solidly in the low- to mid-20s—which certainly detracts from the Versa's attractiveness as a vehicle with very low operating costs.

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February 14, 2017
2011 Nissan Versa 4-Door Sedan I4 Automatic 1.8 S

omg! I hate this car

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okay, to start off we bought this car as a lease trade in at the dealership I worked for. At first the car was fantastic, got great gas mileage, blows cold air when needed, and blows hot air when needed. It... + More »
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April 13, 2015
For 2011 Nissan Versa

You get what you pay for.

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For the money Versa will get you around town. The car is maade cheaply, but as stated you get what you pay for. Gas mileage is not even near what they claim. Takes time to warm up before your car will change... + More »
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Styling 6
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 6
Features 8
Fuel Economy 7
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