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A 2021 Nissan Versa subcompact car's black front seats and dashboard

Cheap Doesn’t Mean Bad in the 2021 Nissan Versa

Nissan's longtime compact car, the Sentra, remains a strong competitor. However, the subcompact Versa has made a name for itself differently. Both offer similar features, but the latter appeals to the fuel-saving crowd. Plus, U.S. News named it among the safest small cars this year. Here's what's great about it.

Nissan’s longtime compact car, the Sentra, remains a strong competitor. However, the subcompact Versa has made a name for itself differently. Both sedans offer similar features, but the latter appeals to the fuel-saving, eco-conscious crowd. Plus, U.S. News recently named the 2021 Nissan Versa among the safest small cars this year. What’s so great about it?

Nissan Versa: A little car with big value

The Nissan Versa is a five-passenger subcompact car that comes with front-wheel drive and excellent fuel economy ratings. It can get up to 32 mpg on city streets, but it gets around 40 mpg on the highway. The Versa packs a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 122 hp. 

It offers three trim levels to choose from. The base-model S comes with either a manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission. Among its features are a USB port, forward collision warning, rearview camera, and pedestrian detection. Expect to pay around $14,930 with the manual gearbox and $16,650 with the CVT.

Next in the lineup is the SV, offering satellite radio, upgraded cloth upholstery, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and driver attention monitoring. All of this comes for $17,790, U.S. News reports.

Finally, the top trim is the SR. It boasts a leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lights, sport cloth upholstery, and remote start for a starting price of $18,390.

How safe is the Nissan Versa?

The Nissan Versa hasn’t completed crash testing as of this writing. However, the popular crash testing agencies have put it through a small portion of it so far.

For now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2021 Versa a 5-star rating for side crash tests. As for its rollover evaluation, the car earned a 4-star NHTSA rating, which many of its rivals received too. 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also performed some tentative testing on the Versa. So far, the results are impressive. The IIHS gave it a “Good” rating, the highest available, in the side and moderate overlap front crash tests.

How does it compare to other cars on the list?

The Nissan Versa lands in 11th place on the list with an overall 7.6 out of 10. It follows the 10th-place winner, the Toyota Prius, which received a 7.7 overall score. However, both earned a safety rating of 9.5 out of 10 from U.S. News. The main difference with the scoring, though, is the Prius has completed its IIHS crash testing. 

Though the Versa ranks toward the bottom of the list, it’s not the worst. Coming in last place is the Kia Forte with a good overall 8.2 out of 10, but its safety score is a tad lower at 9.3/10. The Forte managed a 5-star NHTSA rating in its side crash tests.

But it didn’t perform as well in the frontal and rollover tests and received an overall 4-star rating. The IIHS gave it a Top Safety Pick award, though. The only things keeping the 2021 Forte from earning the highest Top Safety Pick+ distinction were halogen headlights not performing flawlessly. 

The Nissan Versa may not be the go-to car for people looking for performance. However, it’s an excellent choice if you’re interested in fuel savings, a new car under $15,000, or the elusive manual transmission.


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