Equal to the Nissan Versa’s diminutive footprint is its price tag, which starting at $9,900 is as entry-level as any car on the road. Beyond that, depending on your point of view, the Versa will either exceed or fail to live up to all of your other expectations for a car.
In the plus column is the interior space which has the ability to carry four adults with a high degree of comfort. This is not just company propaganda meant to deceive a potential buyer, the Versa is actually spacious. Because of the tall roof headroom is a non-issue and legroom accommodates 6-foot passengers sit comfortably in both the front and rear seats. The rear seat does not fold completely flat but still offers a total of 50.4 cubic feet of space for cargo in the hatchback version. Likewise, the sedan has a large 13.8 cubit feet of trunck space. A fifth person can theoretically be squeezed in the back but that may be pushing it. Also impressive is the cars thrifty fuel economy that hovers around 30 mpg without the aid of any hybrid measures though a continually-variable transmission is utilized to improve performance and efficiency. The front-wheel-drive 2009 Nissan Versa comes with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 122 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. The Versa S comes standard with a six-speed manual, while a four-speed automatic is optional. The latter transmission is standard on the Versa SL sedan. 0-60-mph takes 9.5 seconds which foretells the Versa’s primary negative, lack of power. However, it is unlikely that anyone considering a Versa purchase would expect it to be able to accelerate on par with other Nissan sedans like the Altima, Maxima or even Sentra.
The usual standard options like front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are included, though other items like ABS cost $250 extra. Despite that, the Versa scores a “Good” in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s test. The base S trim level comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, a 60/40-split-folding rear seatback, tilt steering column and a four-speaker stereo with CD player. The Power Package adds power windows and locks, rear door map pockets and remote keyless entry. A cruise control package is also optional on the Versa S. The Versa SL adds the content of the S trim’s optional packages as well as 15-inch alloy wheels, driver seat height adjustment, 60/40-folding rear seats (sedan) upgraded cloth upholstery, softly padded door armrests, a rear-seat center armrest and a six-speaker stereo with in-dash six-CD changer, auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio. Optional on the SL is the Convenience Package that adds keyless ignition/entry, Bluetooth and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. Also available are a sunroof, satellite radio and an audio package with a 100-watt Rockford Fosgate subwoofer and upgraded speakers. The Versa SL hatchback is also available with a Sport Package that adds a rear roof spoiler, lower body kit and foglights. While the modest appointments are laid out well, the fit and finish is on the cheap side, but not excessively to what you would expect for this kind of car. If you are expecting a cheap, though solid commuter and don’t mind if it looks plain, take a look at the Versa. Otherwise, look elsewhere.