Review: 2007 Nissan Versa
This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2011.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Japan seemingly has been born under a lucky star when introducing new cars in America. Its fuel-stingy autos strongly helped it get a foothold here during the 1973 gas crunch, and now its new trio of compact economy cars is poised to sell well during the current steep gasoline price increases.
Trio members are the Nissan Versa, Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris. They're here because Japan's former entry-level Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra have been sized and priced out of the entry market.
The front-wheel-drive Versa has the longest wheelbase (distance between axles) and the roomiest interior, with an especially large rear-seat area—uncommon for a compact economy car. The Versa is much longer overall than the Fit and is virtually the same overall length as the Yaris, both being a bit more than 169 inches long.
On the other hand, the Versa is several hundred pounds heavier than the Fit and Yaris, weighing 2,722 to 2,779 pounds, depending on trim level and equipment, so it can be argued that it needs a larger engine for competitive performance. In any case, none of the three cars is a fireball.
The Versa has a standard 6-speed manual gearbox, while a 4-speed automatic and a smooth continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) are available. Go with the CVT because it makes the most of the engine's power band.
High Fuel Economy
The Versa comes in base S and upscale SL trim levels. List prices range from $12,450 to $15,450.
Standard S features include air conditioning, a tilt wheel, an AM/FM/CD audio system, a tire-pressure-monitoring system and 60/40 split-folding rear seats.
The SL, which starts at $14,450 with the manual transmission, adds quite a lot: cruise control, aluminum alloy wheels, in-dash 6-CD autochanger with MP3 playback, remote keyless entry and power locks, windows and mirrors.
Steering is responsive, although coarse road surfaces can be felt through the wheel. The Versa handles confidently, but is designed more to deliver a plush ride than the sharpest handling. The brake pedal has a nice feel, but stopping distances are average.
The Versa is built in Mexico and shares its chassis with proven European-market Nissan and French Renault models. Nissan and Renault are related, and such sharing saves Nissan lots of money.
Unusual French Styling
The styling also allows a rather high, oddly shape cargo opening, although cargo space is generous because a "twist beam" rear axle allows for a deep cargo area.
Doors open wide for easy entry, and a high roof and long wheelbase allow lots of room for five tall adults, although four is a more practical number because the center of the back seat is too high and hard for comfort; it's best to flip down the rear center armrest, which contains two cupholders.
Low cupholders at the front of the console invite beverage spills, but front doors have bottle holders and all doors have deep storage pockets. There also are good-sized interior storage areas.
The heavy hood is held open by a short prop rod that new Versa owners may at first have difficulty finding because it's attached to the underside of the hood. But it's easy to reach fluid filler areas in the engine compartment.
The Versa's big-car feel and roominess promise to give it a leg up on the rival Fit and Yaris among small car shoppers, although all trio members are above-average economy models.