2021 Nissan Versa

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
November 29, 2020

Buying tip

Pass on the low-spec Versa S and start at the Versa SV for value—including a CVT, automatic emergency braking, and smartphone compatibility.

features & specs

S Manual
32 city / 40 hwy
27 city / 35 hwy
32 city / 40 hwy

The 2021 Nissan Versa doesn’t claim the cheapest-car title anymore—and it doesn’t look, feel, or drive like it anymore, either.

The 2021 Nissan Versa is a new car, and not much more–and that’s not damning it with faint praise. Few cars offer its safety and infotainment features at its price, and of those that do, it’s among the best.

What kind of car is the 2021 Nissan Versa? What does it compare to?

It’s a four-door sedan, and sized like a Hyundai Accent or Kia Rio.

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Is the 2021 Nissan Versa a good car?

The 2021 Versa gets a TCC Rating of 6.2 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 Nissan Versa?

It’s carried over, since it was new in the 2020 model year. That means its V-shaped grille, curved roofline, and pert dimensions are unchanged. The Versa’s a handsome little car, one with a well-sorted interior that avoids the curse of thrifty materials.

Performance comes from a 122-horsepower inline-4, and it’s busy just keeping up with demand in the Versa. Power goes to the front wheels through a very rare 5-speed manual—not recommended here because of the features that model lacks—or through a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which delivers better fuel economy anyway. The ride’s OK, and so is the steering, but no one buys a Versa with Speed Racer dreams anyway. 

The Versa’s well-suited to city commuting for a single driver or a plus-one situation; however that works out is between you and Tinder. What it’s not so good at is putting big people in back. Head and leg room are lacking. It’s better in trunk space, with a fanny pack bigger than the one on some luxury sedans.

How much does a 2021 Nissan Versa cost?

Starting at $15,855, every Versa gets automatic emergency braking, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, blind-spot monitors, and a powertrain that returns at least 30 mpg combined. The Versa SV adds in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and 16-inch wheels and a CVT; it’s our pick. The $19,265 Versa SR adds a few sporty touches, but doesn’t seem to fit the economy-car equation as well. 

Where is the 2021 Nissan Versa made?

In Mexico.


2021 Nissan Versa


The Versa skips the bargain-bin look.

Is the Nissan Versa a good-looking car?

The Versa has sent its old looks to charity. Now it’s styled after the Sentra and Maxima, and it’s all the better for it. We give it a 6, with a point extra for the cat-eye profile.

The Versa costs less than half as much as the average new car (that price point’s nearing $40,000), but it doesn’t look it. The deep V-neck grille, the artfully draped roofline, and the interesting rear roof pillar draw it out of the cheap-car depths and plop it into the generically handsome set. Big, swept-back headlights tamp down the usually cramped compact-car look—but it’s really the blacked-out part of the rear pillar that stays on trend.

Inside, the Versa is more tame but not at all boring. The V-shaped dash mimics the grille, and attracts eyeballs to its 7.0-inch standard touchscreen. Some higher-spec models wear contrast stitching on the seats. The Versa’s uniform look doesn’t look like a uniform.

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2021 Nissan Versa


Excitement in a Versa? Check the sticker price before you check the engine output.

Horsepower doesn’t matter to Versa drivers. Sticker price does. A 4 in this category isn’t underwhelming, it’s actually higher than some rivals and a gain over Versas past.

How fast is the Nissan Versa?

Nissan drops a 1.6-liter inline-4 in the Versa engine bay. With 122 hp and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), the front wheels are in no danger of being confronted with too much power. (Yes, there’s a 5-speed manual on base cars, but go find one for sale. We’ll wait.)

The performance spec that matters is 35 mpg, but the Versa isn’t unpleasant to drive. It’s responsive at low speeds, the CVT doesn’t take long to change ratios, and 0-60 mph doesn’t take 10 seconds. It takes every bit of eight seconds and then some, but it’s not lackadaisical. Highway passing takes some planning, however.

Is the Nissan Versa 4WD?

No, all versions are front-wheel drive.

When it was redesigned recently the Versa gained a stiffer body, and that helps its electric power steering feel settled and precise enough The ride quality’s OK: the Versa’s McPherson struts in front and the twist beam in the rear aren’t built for razor-sharp handling, but they coat moderate bumps fairly well. Economical front disc/rear drum brakes don’t sound exotic and they aren’t—but they get the job done, inexpensively.

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2021 Nissan Versa

Comfort & Quality

The Versa’s fine for two and cargo.

The Versa has the smallest interior room of any Nissan, but has enough space for adults to fit well in front. The trunk’s fairly large—and that grants it an extra point that it loses in back-seat room. It’s a 5 here.

At about 103.1 inches in wheelbase, the Versa cabin is slightly wider than most small sedans. Its front seats make the most of the space, with six-way height adjustment that helps with driving position. Seat comfort itself is about average, with wide cushions and good padding, but the driver armrests sit at two different heights. 

The back seat can hold a couple of size-medium passengers, but with 31 inches of leg room, space is limited, and so is head room. The middle seat’s a non-starter for all but the smallest passengers that don’t require a car seat.

Trunk space swells to 15 cubic feet and the opening is low and wide, so the Versa lives up to what’s implied in its name. 

With its durable-looking cloth and soft interior materials, the Versa’s finished well enough, but it’s lacking in small-item storage space and its carpeting looks low-grade.

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2021 Nissan Versa


The Versa promises good crash-test performance.

How safe is the Nissan Versa?

The IIHS hasn’t crash-tested one yet. The NHTSA gave the Versa five stars overall; we're carrying that score forward here until 2021 ratings have been confirmed. With its standard automatic emergency braking and good outward vision, that’s an 8 here, before all the numbers are in. Versa SV and SR sedans also come with blind-spot monitors. 

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2021 Nissan Versa


The Versa’s both affordable and well-equipped.

We give the 2021 Versa a 7 for features. It’s stocked with a good touchscreen for infotainment, but base models skimp on smartphone compatibility, so it misses an easy point there. It’s also light on options and strictly average in warranty coverage—but it’s a good value.

The base Versa S costs $15,855. It’s a value, with automatic emergency braking, keyless start, 15-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, and 7.0-inch touchscreen, but we’d still miss out on Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and would have to pay $1,670 for a CVT.

Which Nissan Versa should I buy?

We’d go with the CVT-equipped Versa SV. It costs $18,665 and comes with 16-inch wheels, a nicer cloth interior, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and blind-spot monitors. 

How much is a fully loaded Nissan Versa?

The 2020 Versa SR costs $19,265 and gains 17-inch wheels, some sporty details, six-speaker audio, and fog lights. It earns a point for value, but Nissan’s own Sentra is bigger, better equipped, and not much more expensive, so shop carefully. 

Nissan puts a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty on every Versa.

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2021 Nissan Versa

Fuel Economy

The Versa’s thrifty with the CVT.

Is the Nissan Versa good on gas?

Yes. Gas mileage is the reason shoppers drift toward the smallest sedans on the road. The Versa lives up to the hype. With an EPA rating of 32 mpg city, 40 highway, 35 combined, it’s a 7 here. That’s for the CVT version; shift to the manual and the EPA wags its finger to the tune of 27/35/30 mpg. 

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MSRP based on S Manual
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Expert Rating
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Styling 6
Performance 4
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety 8
Features 7
Fuel Economy 7
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