2014 Versa sedan pros/cons - vs 2011 ?

General Discussion forum for Versa Owners
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Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2014 10:20 am
Car: 2011 Nissan Versa sedan (manual)

2014 Versa sedan pros/cons - vs 2011 ?

Postby VersaJack » Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:26 am


Glad I found this forum... am in the market for a new car and have tried to distill all the tons of info available from "neutral" sources/websites/rankings/etc. Sorry if this is overly long, but the Nissan Versa community may end up gaining a new (or renewed) enthusiast when all is said and done...

Bit of background: I currently own a 2011 1.6 manual xmission Versa sedan, no frills model (had to put in my own radio!), "human powered" windows/locks, etc... coming up to 40000 mi. It has been very reliable with few probs, perfect for city driving/commuting. Long distance driving is another story; on the open road steering seems a little unsteady and maybe a puff or two of wind can sometimes veer the car a bit offtrack. It was actually somewhat "painful" (literally/figuratively) to take on a ~2000 mi. driving trip last year.

In looking for an "upgrade" that might provide good mpg w/ some better degree of comfort/usability for longer trips (which I don't take terribly often, but still want to do from time to time) I've looked around in the usual places, including Ford Focus + Fusion, Nissan Sentra + Altima and others. I guess I could be accused of brand loyalty as I had Sentras for many years in the past and when I had trouble with another car a few years ago I got a Versa sedan (automatic) as a rental and immediately wanted to make a Versa my next car (hence the 2011 manual I ended up w/). So over time I've been partial to Nissan and to some degree Ford; Hondas and Kias have also emerged as possibilities but I don't feel overwhelmed by the choices there just now (let alone for Toyotas).

One thing I hadn't realized before was just how amazing the Versa interior space is compared to nominally bigger cars. This is a huge plus, as I do want to cart people around from time to time (w/o having to move my drivers seat way up just so an adult can fit in the back, as w/ the Focus). Trunk space is great too. I understand these dimensions have not been lost on the newer Versas. I'm also impressed you can get bells & whistles on newer Versas that might not be available on other subcompacts (e.g., keyless ignition, satellite radio).

I've sat in a new Sentra - headroom in front not great - and test driven a 2010 Altima - felt a bit like a wet sponge. Both models were at the top of my list for new acquisitions/leases. (Thus I haven't tested a 2014 Altima yet, only sat in one and did like the room in there Also HAVE to be impressed w/ its mpg.) I did also test a 2014 Versa Note. I thought it might be the answer but I was not impressed w/ the feeling of being "squeezed in" from the door side... never a problem w/ my current Versa sedan so I don't know what's up w/ the dimensions there. Note interior space was otherwise excellent and the hatch provides plenty of cargo space (w/ "privacy" flap available) but the ride - albeit involving CVT - didn't really win me over any more than w/ my current Versa sedan.

I have yet to test drive a new Versa sedan. I'm tempted but I don't want to go to the trouble of bugging the dealership one more time for something I might not be likely to buy. (Have bugged them enough already!) If someone has had the experience of moving from a slightly older Versa sedan to one of the newer ones I'd thus love to hear from you - I may be convinced to at least give it a try based on what I hear. Right now, the pros of a new Versa would obviously be: interior room, gas mileage, possibility of bells/whistles (which really I'm looking for by way of a bit of added comfort/convenience) and - assuming I do get that SL model - alloy wheels. Cons, as far as I can tell right now: cheap plastic interior, seats that may or may not be comfortable for a longer trip, possible concerns as noted above w/ 2011 (unsteady open-road steering, susceptibility to crosswinds).

No car is going to be perfect, I realize that. It's hard to ignore the good deal you can get on a Versa and the stuff that may come along with it. Thus can anyone speak to improved handling/feel of a newer (e.g. 2014) Versa compared to older ones...? For instance I notice the outer aerodynamic styling is a little different and wonder if that helps w/ some of the previous Versa problems. Can it be reasonably comfortable on longer trips? (Maybe just install some more comfortable cushions, if the standard seating is otherwise a problem?) What about the steering/handling? Could the alloy wheels on the SL give it an edge in that department, or is that more in a category of putting lipstick on a pig? :D (Have never driven any car w/ alloy wheels before, so really don't know in general what good it does on the practical side, other than slight reduction in weight _and possibly smoother handling [but who knows...]).

Even when I tested the 2014 Note, thinking it would automatically be better than the sedan, the dealer said off the cuff that he didn't think there was much wrong w/ a sedan in comparison, and I think he was being sincere. I'd just written off the sedans out of hand at that point b/c of all the less than stellar reviews I'd seen, including one which compared a Note much more favorably vs. the sedan. But now I'm warming up again to the sedans.

So... wondering why I should get a new Versa sedan instead of a Sentra, Altima, Focus, Fusion, Accord or Kia Forte? I know it's not going to give you super German or Focus-type handling, but how often does any of us need to drive on twisty mountain roads for sheer fun? It may not offer the comfort of an Altima, Focus or (presently highly hyped) Accord, but sure would be easier to parallel park in the city (which is a frequent need of mine among other things). I've looked at, though not yet tested, the Kia Forte and can't admit to being overwhelmed. Thus... is someone in a position to convince me that concerns about comfort/handling on a longer trip might be overblown... that the 2014 Versa sedan is better than its 2011 counterpart in those regards ?

Part of me thinks that Nissan has a good thing going here w/ the Versa, almost to the point of wanting to keep it a secret. (Else, how are they going to sell all those Altimas etc...). I know Nissan has taken a lot of rap in recent years for quality/reliability, and the company has changed drastically w/ its renowned leader, perhaps moving away from the unique culture & brand expression it developed in the past. But something about the new Versa sedan seems to hearken back to the general brand I once knew and loved, and I don't want to feel I'm missing out on something here. Still have to do some research on things like 5-year cost-to-own, but to be perfectly honest - as mentioned before - there's very little fundamentally wrong w/ the 2011 Versa sedan I have right now, other than those concerns re: longer-distance handling and comfort (never mind the "reach-over" version of human-powered interior door locks...). Though I've only had it for 2 1/2 years and got it almost new, it's never had to go in the shop for anything other than routine maintenance... so I'm wondering, at least, why a 2014 wouldn't be similarly reliable?

Thus... would be very grateful if anyone can speak to the questions/concerns I have here... maybe in the end selling me on a new Versa sedan, maybe not... but you're definitely in my debt for any guidance & meaningful info. that can be provided beyond all those superficial/airbrushed "expert reviews" out there!


VersaJack (in a US urban area)

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Re: 2014 Versa sedan pros/cons - vs 2011 ?

Postby frapjap » Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:01 am

Welcome to NICO!

You've hit the right place for everything Nissan. My youngest brother also has a bare bones Nissan Versa. Much like yours, it never needs anything aside from gas and an oil change. They're very economical cars, and while they have no frills, are reliable, comfortable, and utilitarian all at the same time.

One of our moderators recently reviewed a Nissan Versa Note hatchback (along with a slew of other vehicles).
http://www.nicoclub.com/archives/2014-n ... eview.html
She does prefer performance oriented vehicles, so keep that in mind while reading the review.

She also reviewed a 2012 Versa
http://www.nicoclub.com/archives/first- ... sa-sv.html

Lastly, a 2013 Sentra- with the CVT and manual transmissions
http://www.nicoclub.com/archives/2013-n ... speed.html

Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2014 10:20 am
Car: 2011 Nissan Versa sedan (manual)

Re: 2014 Versa sedan pros/cons - vs 2011 ?

Postby VersaJack » Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:57 am

Thank you; this is helpful!


Posts: 1
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 2:31 pm
Car: 2013 Nissan Versa Plus S

Re: 2013 Versa sedan pros/cons /more pros!

Postby Bobsnissan » Fri May 16, 2014 2:57 pm

I have seen so many negative posts on the Versa. I have the 2013 s plus, some what stripped down, put a Kenwood entertainment center in it top of the line. Best floor mats, carpeted from Nissan and the top of the line rubber. Chromed it up some. We have never had the first problem in two years, hey 40 miles to the gallon, we use synthetic blend, had it coated with poly Shield, great stuff Comes with maintenance kit from dealer. Dash mat. New hub caps, looks very nice, drives good a little unstable in high cross winds but managable. I think if you take care of any car keep it clean, drive reasonably, treat it with respect it should last.i see see dirty banged up Versa's , Altima's Maxima, drivers careening through traffic like they on on the Gran Prix. You can't blame Everything on the manufacturer. I've been with Nissan since first Datsun b210 Always lived up to the :) hype. :wavey:

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Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:56 pm

Re: 2014 Versa sedan pros/cons - vs 2011 ?

Postby scardni » Mon Apr 20, 2015 11:00 pm

i own a 2014 base model 4door sedan. This car has NO options: 5 speed (which i prefer in a small car), crank windows, manual door locks, manual side view mirrors, no key fob, no trunk release, no cruise. It does have great A/C, a basic am/fm/cd radio (with a plug to accept AUX input from my iphone). Got it as a commuter car and i am generally very happy with it. It was cheap (out the door for $10.4k, but is was 1 month old and had 1,100 miles on it - someone apparently didn't like it). it was exactly what i was looking for: a cheap, dependable car with Nissan reputation and warranty. I drive 60 miles each way to work. mostly highway, in hot east central Florida. On highway, i usually am at a steady 80 MPH, and it gets 35 MPG. Highway speed makes a huge difference in MPG - I have tracked the MPG many times, and yes, it gets about the following: At 80-83 MPH, MPG is 31-35. at 70 MPH it gets 36-38 MPG, 60 MPH gets 44-51 MPG. Problem is, Floridians think they are all NASCAR drivers, and if your doing 60, your causing accidents. 75-80 MPH is the norm on I95. Gas mileage around town , driving somewhat normally (although i accelerate harder than average from a stop) is 36-40. All these MPGs are with the A/C on. A/C off makes ~ 2.5 MPG difference at high speeds.

Pros: very inexpensive, Nissan dependability / warranty, great legroom for an econobox in front and back seats. decent acceleration (its actually dare i say, fun with with 5 spd for an econbox. cons: Biggest negative is the mushy, unstable handling at highway speeds - almost scary. I am looking into different tire / shock combinations now to improve this. At the minimum, i will go with wider, lower profile tires, and i don't know if the MPG will change considerably, since stock tires are skinny LRR (low rolling resistance) tires. The transmission could use a 6th gear as RPMs are 4,100 at 80 MPH. The front seats not very comfortable for long rides - i would not take this car on vacation - longest ride i do with this car is the 1 hour drive to/from work.

Overall, i do miss the creature comforts like power windows / locks, cruise control, but i got exactly what i wanted - a no frills commuter car. I rate this car a 4 out of 5 for a economy / commuter car. For what its worth, i am an older car nut: i have owned and wrenched on many classic muscle cars, and have always owned and liked the quality and dependability of Japanese cars. I have owned a few Honda's, 2 Toyota's, 1 Subaru, a few Nissan's. They all have pros / cons.

hope this helps - good luck with your search!


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