- The least expensive car sold in the US that doesn't feel tiny and cramped. It's a very efficient design. I'm not sure where Nissan found all the interior room in such a tiny package.
- Speaking of efficiency, the Versa is shockingly thrifty on fuel. The EPA city/hwy rating is 30/38. Before I bought the car, this sounded very impressive. I commute solely on very hilly, curvy country roads, cruising at 55-60 MPH. I expected my real world economy to be far less. However, I'm averaging an eye popping 40-43 MPG! On a recent trip to Atlanta, GA, I was stuck in 45 MPH interstate traffic. I glanced down at the trip computer and saw that I was averaging... *drum roll*... 49 MPG! It should be noted that I'm very conscientious about driving efficiently.
- The 1.6L 109hp 4 cylinder engine is smooth and sounds nice for a little 4-banger. Engine noise is quite low for cheap, basic transportation. It's only intrusive and unpleasant sounding when revved above 4,000 RPMs, which is rare given how I drive the car. It's no sports car, but it's surprisingly peppy! The lack of shifting from the CVT transmission is a godsend in a small car like this used for commuting on hilly roads, as is the case for me. I'm convinced that the 6spd automatic in the Kia Rio (my primary choice if it weren't so pricey) would have been constantly "gear hunting" on my hilly commute, which would have driven me nuts! The CVT is definitely a preferred choice for me now in an automatic transmission.
- I'm pleased with the ride quality. Many of the auto reviewers online state that it rides too soft. They must be accustomed to driving many sports cars, because the ride actually feels on the firm side to me. Pleasantly firm. I like firm, not harsh. It certainly rides much firmer than my previous car, a Volvo 940.
- The interior is cavernous. You can easily fit 4 adults in this car. The rear leg room is limo-like. The commercials advertising this speak the truth! Head room is equally as ample.
- The construction of the car, for the most part, feels solid. Not as chintzy as you might expect at this price. There are some exceptions in quality, which I'll discuss below.
- The driver's seat is surprisingly comfortable. It's more cushioned than I'm accustomed to in little economy cars. It's far plusher feeling than the seat in the Kia Rio, which have much harder, flatter feelings seats.
- Taste is subjective, of course, but I think the 2012 Versa is a handsome little car. It looks like a baby car trying to look grown up and mature. A baby Infiniti, if you will. My Versa is black with the chrome exterior door handles and light grey interior. I think it looks pretty sharp. However, I will be honest and say that I find the dash design quite unattractive, although its ergonomics are decent.
- The interior looks and feels on the cheap side. Some of it is offensively bad. For example, the door armrest is hard plastic that gives in a little when I lean on it. A small detail that gives the impression of cheapness. Also, the door panels are 100% hard plastic. No fabric panels on the doors whatsoever. The top range SL trim has cloth on the door panels. I'm not sure why it takes buying the top of 3 trim levels to get something so basic as cloth on the door panels. In addition, the split-folding rear seat is only available on the SL. It should AT LEAST be offered as an option on the mid-range SV trim (if not standard equipment).
- The electric power steering is overly boosted. It is very tight and responsive, however it's scarily too lightweight. At highway speeds, it's pretty much impossible to drive in a smooth straight line. There's very little road feel through the steering. Adding to this problem, the car produces a buffeted, tail-wagging sensation when driving behind semi trucks at 80 MPH. I assume this is due to the car's very light curb weight. Also, the passenger seat literally shakes and rattles at 80 MPH when it's not occupied. 75 MPH seems to be this cars comfortable limit on the interstate.
- Ergonomics are not that great. I found it difficult to find a comfortable driving position. The pedals feel a bit too close, and the steering wheel a bit too far. In comparison, the distance from pedals and steering wheel felt much better in my Volvo 940. No complaints about the ergonomics in that car!
The glovebox is very difficult to access from the driver's seat. Instead of the box being part of the glovebox door, as is the case in most vehicles, it is simply a large, deep cubbyhole inside the dashboard. I literally have to lay down on the passenger seat to see inside and grab contents. A really dumb design. Not sure what they were thinking!
The climate controls need some very simple improvements. The vent selector and temp selector are nice big rotary knobs. Easy to grab and turn. However, the fan speed knob is a completely different shape, and a poor one. It's too small and kind of hard to grip, since the sides of the knob are not ribbed for finger traction. Stupid design. The pictographs on the climate control are poor as well. The fan speeds are labeled I, II, III, IIII. Not easy to decipher quickly when going down the road. Actual numbers would have been more logical. The backgrounds behind the pictographs on the vent selector and temp knobs are gray. Whoever thought white pictographs on gray background was a good idea, needs to go back to design school.
- Although plush for an economy car, the front seat bottom cushions feel too short. I'm only 5'9". If the seat cushion feels too short for me, I'm sure it feels too short for most drivers.
- The automatically locking doors are a nuisance. Picture it... you pull into a gas station, put the car in Park. Shut the car off and go to get out of the car, but you can't because the door is locked. This car does not automatically release the lock when you pull on the interior door handle. Cars had this feature, which I believe to be a good safety feature, 20 years ago. With this Versa, if you want to get out of the car, you either have to remove the keys from the ignition, or press the unlock button on the driver's door. Not a fan of this at all. My assumption is that they expect you won't lock your keys in the car if you are required to remove them from the ignition. I'm constantly having issues with attempting to get out of the car and realizing I'm trapped, usually at gas stations (or any place I normally leave the key in the ignition when I exit the car). It's annoying. I've only had the car a month, so maybe with time I'll become better acquainted.
- I'm an audiophile. I love listening to music in the car. This is literally the ONLY economy car sold in the U.S. that does not offer a 6-speaker stereo. It comes standard with 2, which is a joke. If you step up to the SV trim, you get the same stereo head unit, but 4 speakers. If you opt for the Bluetooth package, you get an upgraded head unit with iPod connectivity. I didn't realize when I bought my car that it didn't have the iPod connectivity. For a 29 year old, I'm rather behind on technology. I saw the Aux. jack input on the stereo and assumed that was the standard interface connection for listening to and controlling your iPod from the head unit. I was sorely wrong, and I certainly learned something. I feel rather behind the times, not being able to control the iPod from the head unit. Honestly, I find it rather unsafe to have to pick up and look at my iPod touch every time I want to change song tracks, pause, rewind, etc.