The Nissan Versa has been one of those cars that suites those looking for good, economic, no frills transportation. Put another way, the Versa really isn’t anything to write home about; in fact the most impressive thing about the Versa used to be that it was the most inexpensive new car you could buy—and it came with the options to prove it like a radio delete and manual crank windows. Of course, for $9,999 you really couldn’t argue if you need NEW and CHEAP wheels. The 2012 Nissan Versa, as seen at the 2011 New York Auto Show this month, seems to be changing the perception of the Versa—even if only a little bit. The biggest news—you can get touch screen navigation and the base MSRP is up almost $1K to $10,990.

2012 Nissan Versa

2012 Nissan Versa

Okay, so we might be lying when we said the biggest changes are the price and the navigation, but the Versa is just a hard car to swallow when compared to the Fiesta, Focus, Cruze, Civic and Elantra. That said, Nissan has made changes to help keep the Versa selling. The most noticeable from the outside is the body design, which has been updated with styling cues from the Versa’s larger cousins, the Altima and Maxima. The slab side look has also subsided into a softer look with some accent lines that help carry the new styling cues down the side of the car. The result is a “less homely” compact car according to TheCarConnection.com and we would have to agree that the newest Versa scores more points in the cute column.

Other big news includes the available engine selection which has been reduced to one option—the 1.6-liter 109-hp four-cylinder engine. The 1.6-liter engine, originally only offered on the base economy model, allows the 2012 model to achieve an estimated 30 mpg in the city and 37 mpg highway with the CVT. If you still have mixed feelings about the CVT transmission, you can opt for the manual and still achieve 27/36-mpg city/hwy. Nissan is still lagging a little bit with the Versa though since it doesn’t achieve the 40-mpg benchmark set by Ford and quickly followed by Hyundai with the Elantra.

Be sure to check out the walkaround of the Versa from the 2011 New York Auto Show by TheCarConnection.com’s very own John Voelcker.