News cars are more and more expensive each year. Many vehicles now have available navigation systems, radar-assisted cruise control units, and night vision camera systems. Between government mandated safety features and optional extras, the average new car purchase price is nearing $32,000. Some people just want inexpensive, reliable transportation that is also safe. Nissan has the privilege of selling the most inexpensive new car in the United States. The Versa sedan starts at $11,990. But what comes with that version of the car? Is it something someone could live with everyday? Let’s take a look!
Many people would assume that a small car would not be a performance machine. With the Versa, that might be the case. The 1.6L DOHC 4-cylinder engine is good for CO2 emissions, but with only 106hp it won’t be a screamer in the straights. However, small cars are often very light, and since there is not a lot of equipment on the Versa S, it will be a light car. Acceleration should be acceptable, especially around town. On the highway might be a different story, but it should have no trouble maintaining speed anywhere in the US, including the 85mph toll road in Texas.
Fuel economy is rated at 27 city and 36 highway. 36 highway miles per gallon is nothing to write home about in the world of 40mpg subcompacts, but the number is still respectable. Also, considering the price savings the Versa S offers over a 40mpg vehicle, money still may end up being saved with the Versa S.
Creature comforts and options are where inexpensive vehicles tend to fall short. People probably assume that the most inexpensive vehicle on sale in the United States has zero options whatsoever. That would be untrue. A manual transmission is standard, with an automatic being a paid upgrade. Manual transmissions tend to be better in these types of vehicles to better access the power of the engine.
Single zone air conditioning is standard. Not too long ago, air conditioning was a feature unavailable in vehicles like this. Now it is standard, making summers much more enjoyable. Additionally, there is a factory CD player with an auxiliary jack to plug in a music player or iPod. We are a bit surprised the Bluetooth isn’t available. Even though it is an inexpensive vehicle, hands free phone is definitely a safety consideration.
One surprise, and definitely useful, is a multi-function trip computer. A simple odometer and trip counter is fine, but being able to see fuel economy numbers, miles to empty, and average speed are useful bits of information to make the drive more entertaining.
For safety, six airbags are standard feature. The front airbags are dual-stage, determining the severity of the accident before deploying and then deploying with just the appropriate amount of force. Also, the Versa S features traction control and vehicle stability control. To understand the significance of traction and stability control, we have included a video of the system being put to the test on ice. Even though the video is not of the Versa, it is applicable to all vehicles equipped with this technology.
Additional safety features include a tire pressure monitoring system and the LATCH system for securing a child safety seat in the vehicle properly.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have tested the Nissan Versa S and achieved the following results.
The vehicle scores Good in almost all areas (Good being the highest rating). However, the small overlap front test it receives a Poor rating. This test tends to not score particularly well with small vehicles, but other vehicles in this class do perform better in this test. For the entire IIHS breakdown, check out their site. Below is the video of the Versa participating in that test.
Overall, the Nissan Versa S appears to offer a decent amount of creature comfort mixed with a great starting price. Other vehicles, such as the Ford Fiesta, perform better in the small overlap front test than the Versa S, but are also a few thousand dollars more expensive to purchase.
For those looking for an inexpensive, fuel efficient means of transportation with good reliability and a new car warranty, the Nissan Versa S is a vehicle that might fit that requirement for many people.