2011 Nissan versa coupe and hatchback review

The Versatile Nissan Versa for 2011

What would you say about the value you get when you go into a dealership to buy a compact car, but then realize you get a midsize model for your money? The 2011 Nissan Versa is compact in exterior size and certainly price, but generous interior room earns it an official “midsize” rating from the U.S. government. Curious?

You could probably guess that the Nissan Versa’s name was inspired in large part by its versatility. “Versa” seemed like a catchier name than “Baby Limo,” which you might call it when you see this remarkable car’s interior roominess. With 112.5 cubic feet of total interior room (cabin plus cargo space) for the Versa hatchback models and 108.1 for the sedan versions, the Versa qualifies as a midsize car according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency that certifies fuel economy. On that note, the Versa scores like a compact with up to 34 mpg in highway driving.

The Versa’s roominess is no illusion. Just sit in the backseat of either the hatchback or sedan and feel the comfort of 38 inches of legroom. That’s actually a bit more than in some midsize sedans like the Ford Fusion (37.1). Hatchback models offer 17.8 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats in use, and a whopping 50.4 cubic feet with the rear
seats folded. (One word of caution about the Versa hatchback: Buy one, and you will be the person that friends call to help them move.) Outside, the Versa slots neatly into “compact only” parking spaces.

Nissan also packages a lot of feature content into the Versa and, just as important, the company included a wide range of choices. If you prefer a sedan, the Versa still gives you that official midsize roominess. The hatchback expands on the utility and exclusively offers the Xtronic CVT® continuously variable transmission.

The Versa sedan comes with a 1.6-liter engine or a more powerful 1.8-liter; the hatchback is available exclusively with the 1.8-liter. Aside from the 1.6 base model with a starting MSRP of $9,990, there’s a standard 1.6 sedan for an MSRP of $11,280, which includes antilock brakes and standard air conditioning. The Versa sedan 1.8 S adds the larger, 122-hp 1.8-liter engine and more amenities including upgraded interior cloth and trim, an AM/FM audio system with six-disc CD changer and auxiliary audio input jack and more. The Versa 1.8 SL adds still more conveniences including remote keyless entry, cruise control, premium AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3/WMA CD playback and iPod® interface system plus 60/40-split folding rear seats. 2011 Nissan versa sedan and hatch back side views

The Versa 1.8 SL hatchback gives you all that plus more room and the Xtronic CVT transmission, which by itself deserves a few words. Instead of set gear ratios, the Xtronic CVT varies the transmission ratio continuously as you drive. You won’t feel any shifting, just smooth, seamless acceleration. Coupled with the 1.8-liter engine’s ample 127 lb/ft of torque, it makes for quite the peppy performer in city or highway driving. At highway speeds, the CVT lets the engine rev lower than a conventional automatic transmission normally would, for quieter cruising.

The Versa SL hatchback is also quite the sporty runabout with its roof-mounted rear spoiler, lower body side sill extensions and foglights. Although the Versa delivers midsize roominess, it leaves midsize pricing to midsize cars. Load up a top-of-the-line Versa 1.8 SL hatchback with the moonroof, Premium and Navigation Packages, and you’re still under 20 grand. It’s no exaggeration to say that some small cars would have blown well past that price mark with similar equipment.

For that price, you’ll have a premium “little big” car with 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, Nissan Intelligent Key® keyless entry and ignition system, Bluetooth® hands-free phone system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, XM® Satellite Radio, XM NavTraffic® and more.

That kind of value earned the Nissan Versa a Consumers Digest "Best Buy" four years in a row, as well as inclusion in ForbesAuto.com’s "Top 10 Least Expensive Vehicles to Own" list.

Not only is the Nissan Versa brimming with the roominess lacking in other small cars, it fills that room with undeniably great value. Come in and test-drive one of the super-versatile 2011 Nissan Versa models, and experience midsize roominess at a compact price.

2011 Nissan versa hatch back side view 2011 Nissan versa hatch back rear tail light view 2011 Nissan versa dash and interior layout

2011 Nissan versa sedan side view 2011 Nissan versa sedan rear 2011 Nissan versa interior