Nissan has owned the subcompact segment for years now, with the Versa sedan and hatchback continuing to outsell their next closest rivals by some 60 percent through the first half of the 2016 calendar year. A key factor in that sales success: a remarkably low price of entry that makes the Nissan Versa sedan the least expensive new car in the country, complete with air conditioning, a four-speaker audio system and Bluetooth for handsfree calling. The thing is, you’re not likely to find one of those base models lurking on the lot without ordering one first. The better-equipped 2016 Nissan Versa SV sedan, the subject of this Autobytel review, is a much more popular choice.
2016 Nissan Versa SV Road Test and Review
Photo Credit: Nissan
2016 Nissan Versa SV: Pricing
With entry-level cars such as the Nissan Versa, pricing is hugely important to both consumers and manufacturers. With the Versa, there’s a major difference in MSRP between the least-expensive Versa sedan—the S model that starts at $11,990—and the SV trim, which opens at $15,580. Yet the mid-level Versa SV is still a relative bargain when compared to the competition, thanks in part to its standard continuously variable transmission. Similarly configured sedans from Chevy and Ford may look less expensive to start, but they have standard manual transmissions, and it costs four figures to move up to an automatic. Oh, and brands like Honda and Toyota don’t have subcompact sedans at all.
2016 Nissan Versa SV: Power, Performance and Fuel Efficiency
The EPA fuel-economy figures for the 2016 Nissan Sentra SV are impressive, even in the fuel-efficient world of subcompacts. Indeed, the Versa SV is by far the most economical sedan in the segment with an automatic transmission: It's rated at 31 mpg city/40 mpg highway/35 mpg combined. That's about 4 mpg better than its nearest rival. There is a bit of a trade-off with output, though, since the standard and only engine in the Versa lineup is a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder that makes a mere 109 horsepower and 107 lb.-ft. of torque. That's 29 horsepower and 18 lb.-ft. less than the standard Chevy Sonic sedan.
2016 Nissan Versa SV: Exterior Design and Lighting
The 2016 Nissan Versa SV was refreshed along with the rest of the roster just last year, and the result is a noticeable family resemblance up front to its Altima and Maxima siblings. For that, credit a bold, chrome-plated “V” element that stretches across the grille, and a large, detailed front-end lighting treatment that leverages standard multi-reflector halogen headlights. Additionally, the SV trim welcomes style cues missing from the entry Versa, such as chrome door handles and a rear spoiler with an integrated LED brake light. The spoiler then combines with standard air deflectors and a sleek roofline to create top-flight aerodynamics.
2016 Nissan Versa SV: Interior Design and Capacities
One of the most appealing facets of the 2016 Nissan Versa SV sedan is its best-in-class cabin space. This advantage is particularly appreciated in the subcompact segment, and much of the Versa's extra room benefits rear-seat passengers. The Versa sedan comfortably holds adults in back. Consider: The Versa SV sedan supplies 37 inches of rear-seat legroom, whereas the Ford Fiesta sedan has only 31.2. Moreover, the Nissan Versa also serves up 14.9 cubic feet of trunk room as compared to the Fiesta’s 12.8. Plus, with SV trim, power amenities are standard on the Versa, and the interior is upgraded with comfortable cloth on the seats and door panels.
2016 Nissan Versa SV: Audio and Infotainment
With the 2016 Nissan Versa SV, and any new car for that matter, electronics have become an important “must-have” for many shoppers. Keep in mind, however, that Versa SV sedan, however, is a popularly priced subcompact with a fairly basic level of features. That said, you get Bluetooth for hands-free calling, a USB port and steering-wheel-mounted controls. And as you’ll learn in a bit, Nissan offers navigation and connectivity enhancements for the Versa, both as options and as standard content on the range-topping SL sedan.
2016 Nissan Versa SV: Safety Ratings and Technology
Occupant protection, or passenger safety, is a natural concern for shoppers of subcompacts. Partially due to the small size of these vehicles, there’s just a single sedan in the segment that has earned a Top Safety Pick recognition and a 5-Star Overall Safety Score: The Chevrolet Sonic. The Versa sedan is rated as a 4-Star performer; and it hasn't been been singled out for a specific “Safety Concern” by the NHTSA, as have the 4-Star Ford, Hyundai and Kia sedans.
2016 Nissan Versa SV: Available Equipment
The 2016 Nissan Versa SV has two option packages that furnish content not available at all on the S models. The Tech Package brings a 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment setup, bolstered by navigation, voice recognition, SiriusXM Traffic/Travel Link, and the NissanConnect with Mobile Apps technology, for access to the latest smartphone-style applications. Moreover, that screen doubles as the display for a rearview camera system. Also in the mix: an Appearance Package that’s highlighted by aluminum-alloy wheels, chrome accents for the front fascia, and foglights. (Note: Everything’s standard with the SL trim, and that Versa also has luxury touches such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel.)
2016 Nissan Versa SV: How About the Hatchback?
If you’ve been looking through this 2016 Nissan Versa SV review wondering when we’d get to the hatchback, well, here you go: Now, first off, even though Nissan combines sales of the hatchback and sedan, and they’re built on the same platform, they’re different enough to be sold under two separate nameplates globally. Key differences in the U.S. versions include even more rear-seat legroom in the Versa Note hatch, which has up 38.3 cubic feet of cargo space. The U.S.-spec Note SV is more expensive and better equipped than the SV sedan as well. An infotainment system and a rearview camera are standard.
2016 Nissan Versa SV: Final Thoughts
What should you learn from this Autobytel review of the 2016 Nissan Versa SV? This Nissan prizes practicality, and its reasonable level of amenities is complemented by superior fuel efficiency, passenger space and trunk room. Sure, some cars in the class may offer a more engaging driving experience, but no subcompact sedan can best the Nissan in any of those three measures. While those may seem like mundane traits, they, along with pricing, are of utmost importance to today’s small-car shoppers.