Consumer Reports Best Subcompact Sedan Is Also the Cheapest

The 2022 Nissan Versa proves that sometimes getting a cheaper car can be the best purchase. Despite having the lowest asking price, it pulled ahead of several other subcompact sedans on Consumer Reports.

The Nissan Versa might be the cheapest subcompact sedan, but is it missing anything offered by more expensive rivals? Let’s see why Consumer Reports says the Versa is still an appreciable value.

The 2022 Hyundai Accent is the most expensive subcompact sedan

The Hyundai Accent’s best trim is nearly $20,000, and the base model can be had for a reasonable $16,645. At least you’ll save a lot of gas with the Accent, as it gets 33/41 mpg city/highway. Unfortunately, its puny 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine only generates 120 horsepower.

This causes the engine to whine excessively whenever it’s pushed to higher speeds, making longer drives feel like a chore. Consumer Reports had no notable complaints about the subcompact sedan’s handling, but it isn’t engaging either. The ride feels jittery even over the smoothest pavement.

Subcompact sedans are known for their cramped dimensions, but CR says it feels worse inside the Hyundai Accent. The cabin is too narrow, it takes a lot of maneuvering to get inside, and every seat feels like touching the pavement. The only pleasant thing about the interior (in CR’s opinion) is the user-friendly infotainment interface.

The 2022 Nissan Versa is a bargain

A side shot of a red 2022 Nissan Versa subcompact sedan parked near a stone cliffside
2022 Nissan Versa | Nissan Motor Corporation

The Nissan Versa subcompact sedan, still fresh from its 2020 model year redesign, starts at $15,380. Part of that redesign included a power boost, though the sole engine only makes 122 hp. Consumer Reports still found the Versa’s powertrain acceptable thanks to its seamless acceleration, and the CVT provides surprisingly smooth shifts.

This Nissan sedan feels quite peppy on city roads and performed well in CR’s avoidance maneuver tests. Unfortunately, testers didn’t find its handling particularly enjoyable. Still, its efficient powertrain earns 32/40 mpg city/highway ratings.

Like most cars of this class, there’s a lot of unavoidable noise that floods the Nissan Versa’s cabin. The suspension feels harsh over most bumps, but CR says it’s somewhat agreeable at times. You also won’t get much comfort from the seats, which are firm and covered in a chintzy cloth material. CR relents that the seats aren’t terrible, but it’s not easy to access them. Most riders will have to duck to enter both rows, and there isn’t much headroom in the rear row. 

Additionally, headroom is good in the subcompact sedan’s cabin, but it’s hard to find a comfortable sitting position. The tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel also doesn’t have a lot of range.

As a whole, the Nissan Versa’s interior is a bit of a mixed bag. There are some classy elements, like faux carbon-fiber trim and some padding for the armrests. Most of the cabin consists of drab plastic, which isn’t surprising at its price point. What else should you expect from a subcompact model?

What about the worst subcompact sedan?

The Hyundai Accent and Nissan Versa are leagues ahead of the 2022 Kia Rio subcompact sedan, at least by Consumer Reports standards. While it has more standard creature comforts than its rivals, it still suffers from a noisy and uncomfortable interior. Its 120-hp engine is predictably sluggish, only made worse by the abrupt shifting of its six-speed automatic transmission.

Obviously, you can only ask for so much when buying a new subcompact car for less than $20,000. Each one makes you settle for elevated noise levels, snug interiors, and rough ride qualities. However, the 2022 Nissan Versa takes these flaws in stride and pulls ahead of its rivals anyway.

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