What's missing from the 2013 Nissan Versa sedan? Excitement. Sporty moves. A stylish, luxururiously-appointed cabin. Groundbreaking in-car technology. But worry not: The Versa makes up for its omissions in some other areas, and arguably the ones that matter more to buyers.
The 2013 Versa Sedan has improved this year, taking cues from Nissan's larger, less humble models like the Sentra and Altima. There's even a hint of European influence in its flowing sheetmetal and details. Inside, European influence is conspicuously absent: It's back to the grim side of small-car tradition, with an undeniably basic, almost chaotic look to the collection of cues and switchgear.
The redesign brought with it improved gas mileage across the Versa lineup. If you choose the continuously variable transmission (CVT), you'll get 35 mpg overall (31 mpg city, 40 mpg highway). Base Versa S models are offered with a regular four-speed automatic and a five-speed manual, neither of which is quite as efficient. Each is rated at 30 mpg combined by the EPA, though the manual goes 1 mpg better than the auto in both city and highway driving, at 27 and 36 mpg respectively.
Versas are powered by a 1.6-liter, 109-horsepower four-cylinder gasoline engine. The characterless engine and relatively slow 11.5-second 0-to-60mph acceleration make for a dull drive, but if ease of use is your only metric, then the Versa hits its mark. The electric power steering is light and precise, ideal in city driving, but fails to inspire confidence at speed. Ride quality is good, though, with absorbent suspension soaking up urban potholes and bumpy freeways fairly well.
Inside, the Versa Sedan is comfortable, and it's very spacious considering its exterior size. Still, we wouldn't try to make four taller adults try to travel together over long distances. The seats are short and flat and not all that comfortable, and in back it's surprising that the rear seatbacks don't fold—not even as a single piece—on many of the trim levels, not just the base car. The trunk is huge, however. Materials and trims are no revelation; the hard and hollow dash materials seem as every bit as cheap as the car's sub-$13,000 base price (including destination). And the persistent road and engine noise don't prove otherwise.
Of course, that sub-$12,800 price is exactly why people will consider the 2013 Nissan Versa in the first place. Base S models offer the bare minimum, with with manual wind-up windows, no power mirrors, and strictly the basics, but air conditioning is included in all trims. This year, in addition to the manual-transmission Versa S, Nissan has added an S model with a four-speed automatic transmission, and all S models now come with a cargo-area lamp. Above that, there's a new Versa Sedan S Plus CVT model, replacing the S CVT and adding standard cruise control.
This year Nissan has added value to its mid-range SV and top-of-the-line SL models, offering more standard features.. Options include Bluetooth, XM Satellite Radio, and a navigation system with XM NavTraffic.
For more details, see the full review of the 2013 Nissan Versa on our sister site, TheCarConnection.