Reviews

2012 Nissan Versa Walk Around

The Nissan Versa looks bigger than a subcompact car. The new sedan is slightly more than six inches longer than the old hatchback. The old hatch is nearly an inch taller than the new sedan. The Versa is slightly larger than many of the subcompacts, such as the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Sonic, but it's smaller than the compact-class cars such as the Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze.

The all-new 2012 Versa sedan is a friendly, approachable little car, without the aggressive, angry lines that many car companies are hooked on these days. The sedan's styling is clean, fluid and well proportioned. It's short on style and personality, however.

In front, the Versa sedan uses Nissan's new signature sedan grille design and jewel-like headlights. Other exterior features include an available chrome-accented grille, chrome door handles and fog lights.

The sedan employs clever design tactics that are not only aesthetic, but also practical. For example, the indented line in the middle of the roofline helps to reduce roof panel vibrations. In back, the shape of the trunk lid offers improved aerodynamics over the previous model, which decreases drag and helps to improve performance and fuel economy.

The 2012 Versa hatchback carries over from 2011. The hatch has a broad, somewhat V-shaped grille flanked by triangular headlights. The Versa SL hatchback, with its front spoiler below the bumper, has a more sporty look. It has an exceptionally short rear overhang, which means very little of the car extends past the rear wheels. In back, the side edges of the tailgate angle sharply inward to clear the cat's-eye taillights. On the SL model, the hatch gets a roof-mounted spoiler.

Interior

While the interiors of the Versa sedan and hatchback differ in design, their basic virtues are similar.

The Versa models have remarkably roomy cabins, with a generous amount of headroom along with enough legroom for 6-footers to sit in back.

Versa's fabric-covered front seats are manually adjustable but lack lumbar support, making them comfortable enough during for moderate commutes, but support fades over long drives.

The controls are easy to use and well placed, while features like navigation, Bluetooth and an USB port are welcome touches in this price range. On our test car equipped with navigation, we particularly liked that the 5-inch touchscreen displayed the station name, artist, and song title simultaneously while we jammed to XM satellite radio, a feature that's tough to find, even on much more expensive vehicles. On the downside, when our phone was paired with Versa's Bluetooth connection, we found the incoming call ringtone unpleasant and annoying.

The interior materials are of decent quality for the class, though the new sedan is nicer than the previous-generation hatchback. Three large, conventional knobs operate the climate control system. While nothing is fancy, everything is readily visible and within reach.

The Versa offers lots of legroom and headroom and it's a real standout in terms of hip room. The width and the substantial structure of the front seats makes the Versa a good choice among subcompacts for larger drivers.

Back seat space on sedan and hatchback models is particularly impressive. Even a six-footer shouldn't feel cramped as the rear seat legroom is at or near the top of the class. The Versa Sedan gives up about half an inch of rear-seat headroom to the Hatchback, but that's not all that much.

The Versa sedan boasts an enormous trunk for a subcompact, with 14.8 cubic feet of space. The hatchback nets a generous 17.8 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats in place and a maximum of 50.4 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. While this is quite large, it falls short of the Honda Fit and its flat load floor.

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