Creating this pros and cons list of the Nissan Versa is quite possibly the easiest article I’ve ever written here on driveandreview.com. It was without a doubt the worst new car that I’ve ever driven.
The Versa poorly built, uncomfortable, and extremely ugly. I hated it. On other hand, I will admit that I liked how disposable it felt. It’s the kind of car that you can park anywhere and not give a ***** about.
I mostly hated it though. There are so many other better cars that you can buy for the money, and I don’t recommend the Versa to anyone.
All the pros and cons of the Nissan Versa
Even before driving it, I knew that there would be more things about the Versa that I wouldn’t like compared to what I would like. It just gives off that kind of vibe when walking up to it for the very first time.
I spent an entire afternoon with the car that you see in these pictures (a disgustingly filthy 2018 SV model), and it wasn’t by choice. It was the last car the rental car counter had, and I had absolutely no say in the matter. On with the pros and cons:
- Outward visibility is nothing short of fantastic. The pillars are thin and the windows are tall in the 2018 Versa, which makes it very easy to see out of in all directions. Merging into traffic is a piece of cake in this car (assuming it’s not a high speed maneuver).
- As I’ve already mentioned at the top of this post, the Nissan Versa is so cheap that you don’t even have to worry about it. Not even a little! There’s no point in preserving a car such as this, so go ahead and park it anywhere. It’s easily replaceable.
- It’s inconspicuous AF. Seriously, nothing will make you blend into the crowd more than showing up in a 2018 Nissan Versa will. Absolutely nobody notices this car.
- It’s actually fairly roomy on the inside. Everything (the seats, the doors, etc.) is thin in this car – which helps to make the cabin feel more spacious than it really is. Anyone 6 feet tall and under will be very comfortable in the 2018 Nissan Versa.
- Gas mileage is fairly decent. Then again, that’s not to be unexpected for such a lightweight car with a small engine like this.
- The continuously variable transmission (CVT) is so bad that it feels broken. In my video review about the 2018 Versa, I wasn’t even aware that it had a CVT. It sure as heck didn’t feel like one, and I couldn’t explain why it was shifting as oddly as it was. It turns out that the transmission really sucks, that’s all.
- The 1.6 L four-cylinder engine is woefully inadequate. Merging onto the freeway is scary and hell in this car, and you will no doubt be pissing people off for being that guy going half as slow as everyone else.
- It goes without saying, but it’s “cheap plastic” overload all over the interior. Of course I wasn’t expecting high-end materials, but come on. The interior of the Versa that I drove was just about as bad as my first car (a 1983 Pontiac 6000 LE).
- It’s a poor value in my opinion. For the same amount of money, you could buy a much nicer (but slightly older) used car that will be better in nearly every way.
- It feels dangerous as hell. The body panels of the Nissan Versa are so thin that it made me nervous driving around in heavy traffic. In a collision, the Nissan Versa will fair poorly against pretty much anything.
- I hate the way it looks. Most other cars in this category can be labeled as cute (yeah, my 2010 Honda Fit is cute), but the Nissan Versa is anything but. It’s just an ugly (bulbous) car with no sense of style and grace. I’d even go as far as saying that’s it’s uglier than the Volkswagen Beetle I recently reviewed (which is saying a lot).
- Build quality is questionable. The particular car that I drove had roughly 40,000 miles on it, and there were many interior bits that were hanging on by a thread. Not only that, the driver‘s seat was rocking loosely on its frame.
- The sound that the engine makes when the CVT transmission is doing its thing is horrible. It’s hard to explain in words, but it’s basically a high-pitched buzzing sound through the entire RPM range. Be sure to watch my acceleration video to hear what sounds like. I promise that you will not want a Nissan Versa with the CVT transmission after watching it.
Two very good reasons why you should consider buying a Nissan Versa
Despite all the negative things that I said about the Versa so far, it does have two specific redeeming qualities. The only two reasons why I would consider purchasing one of these things are as follows:
1. It’s a car you won’t have to worry about
If you’re the kind of person who thinks of a car as an annoying but necessary appliance, the Nissan Versa will be right up your alley. It’s about as basic as modern cars get, and you won’t have to feel guilty about parking it in sketchy neighborhoods (and even neglecting to take care of it). It’s cheap / basic transportation at its finest. When it stops working, recycle it, and get a new one.
2. It’s a fantastic car for new drivers
One of the best things about the Nissan Versa is the fact that it’s very easy to see out of. There are very few blind spots, which makes it extremely easy to drive in traffic. Combine that with its small size and low power, it’s a perfect car for new drivers needing something simple and forgiving in challenging driving situations.
Two very good reasons why you should not consider buying a Nissan Versa
Honestly, I can think of a lot more than two reasons. However, for the sake of brevity (and your short attention span), I’m going to only tell you the top two reasons why this is a car you would want to avoid:
1. It’s basically a giant piece of crap
Seriously. I do not understand why anyone would buy a Versa over a slightly older (and much better) used car. The Versa won’t protect you very well in a crash, it’s slow as balls, and reliability has been questionable at best. Not only that, it’s extremely ugly. I just can’t wrap my head around the feeling of seeing a Nissan Versa and thinking “yeah, that’s a car I’d hate to be driving right about now.”
2. It feels incredibly unsafe
The 1.6 L four-cylinder engine in the Versa is not strong enough to keep up with fast-moving traffic. I always felt like I was on the verge of getting run over – even when I had my foot to the floor. It’s a sensation that I’ve never felt in a car before. Not even in my weakling 2010 Honda Fit.
That lack of power combined with a loose feeling CVT transmission did not give me any confidence at all whenever I needed to merge into traffic with any amount of grunt. It’s basically the worst car ever.