By on August 29, 2018

Look, there are people who buy cars simply for transportation purposes. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, especially for folks like you and I who are of the opinion that a bright-green Dodge Demon is just the ticket for a daily office commute.

Small, largely style-free sedans have been the mainstay of the affordable end of the market for decades. Despite the wholesale abandonment of that segment by certain automakers, there are still plenty of players in the game. Call ‘em the Econ Majors.

Matt ably told us about all trims of the 2019 Nissan Versa Sedan in yesterday’s news cycle. The base trim, labeled with a letter thanks to Nissan’s S-SV-SL naming convention, is now priced at $12,360, which represents a $50 hike over last year’s mid-year refresh.

Yes, mid-year. There are 2018.5 models of the Versa Sedan that differ in feature content compared to the 2018. Be sure to check your notes at Barrett-Jackson in thirty years’ time, folks.

The Versa Sedan was upgraded in mid-2018 with the addition of a standard RearView Monitor and an upgraded audio system. The new audio system includes a 7.0-inch color touchscreen, streaming audio via Bluetooth, a USB connection port for smartphones and other compatible devices, plus an Aux port. The 2019 retains all these goodies.

All base model 2019 Versa Sedans are equipped with a 109-horsepower 1.6-liter four-banger with a manual transmission. Fifteen-inch tires are mounted on steel wheels. Rear drums are a disappointment for this author, although there are plenty in the audience who feel those units are more than sufficient with the bonus of commanding fewer shekels at replacement time. Those people are free to be dead wrong.

Passengers will enjoy an abundance of cup holders and the all-important air conditioning. The steering wheel tilts and lights up its audio controls like Las Vegas. Color-keyed side-view mirrors are power operated.

There remains the issue of Versa’s appearance, as the designer’s styling choices have made the diminutive sedan look like a Beirut taxi. Its elongated taillights are uncohesive and, combined with a large rear overhang, seems to give it a droopy butt. This visual chicanery makes it appear too tall and narrow, as if it’s standing on tippy-toes looking for something on top of the fridge. I will point out this PR pic features a car with mismatched rims, if not in the reflection.

Still, under thirteen grand for a small sedan that’s not equipped like a penalty box and has air conditioning? That’s an attractive value. Ford’s base Fiesta is two grand more. Chevy’s base Sonic sedan? A three grand premium. Econ major, indeed.

[Images: Nissan]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selection.

The model above is shown in American dollars with American options and trim, absent of destination charges and available rebates. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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41 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2019 Nissan Versa Sedan S...”


  • avatar
    Car Guy

    Had a Versa S as a rental in recent months. It was a decent little car and definitely better than a Focus I had in recent trips.

    • 0 avatar
      Ltd1983

      Agreed. They’re not the end of the world enthusiasts make them out to be. They’re not great highway cars IMO, wander too much and get blown around, but that would be true for the Mirage or anything else this small too.

      $12k for a car that can comfortably haul 4 adults and their luggage is nothing to sneer at. Plus with a giant secure trunk, it’d be a great city car for a street parker or someone who lives in an apartment.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I had a Sentra rental for a day. Maybe my point of reference has me skewed, but it was bad. Slow, terrible dynamics, cheap interior, weak radio. It was depressing. A Honda Fit rental I had felt a lot nicer and better to drive.

  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    Sensible, well equipped, decent reliability. You can’t buy a crappy car anymore in 2018.

    Outside of an Alfa Romeo dealer, that is.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    These get so much hate. They’re not that bad, though I admit to liking the previous generation better. No nonsense square lines, and still huge inside. A big boned and tall acquaintance has one, not long out of college. It was the most affordable thing he could comfortably fit in. Driven the heck out of it up and down the east coast with few issues.

    • 0 avatar
      tallguy130

      It does have an abnormal amount of space for a car it’s size. Have to give it that. If you only care about getting from point a to point b and don’t want to spend a lot of money it would be very hard to do any better.

    • 0 avatar
      DevilsRotary86

      My family has a 2017 Nissan Versa Note as my wife’s car. I know it gets hate, but it really isn’t all that bad. We are pleased with ours overall.

  • avatar
    Hydromatic

    I’d rather have a Nissan Micra for $9,988 like the Canadians can.

    • 0 avatar
      Lynchenstein

      The Micra S (as bare bones as you’ll find) is $11,663 CDN including freight and PDI, which is less than $9k USD

      The Micra SV (which has similar equipment as the Versa) is $15,963 CDN, which still isn’t bad.

      The Micra is a much smaller car though.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    As they say, haters gonna hate, but I frankly miss simple cars. Maybe I’ve become a crotchety old man, but tech, tech, tech is not the way to sell me a car.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      Holy crap! I just checked the website of my local dealership and they’re offering Versa S manuals for $9,999. SV’s with CVT for $14,000 (and not in grey scale paint). Insane that you can buy a new car for that kind of money these days.

    • 0 avatar
      Drew8MR

      I’ll never buy a car with an auto (though I’ll allow them if they are $1500 or less)and I’ll never buy a car with a TV. So, I think that’s going to limit me to 17’s and earlier. Honestly, my Franken7 has everything I actually want in a car,but I honestly think a motorcycle is probably safer here in SoCal. I just will never understand why they don’t offer proper “COPO” type cars anymore. I’m willing to pay for motor,brakes and suspension (and AC). I’m not willing to pay for a bunch of other comfort and entertainment bullshit. Or rims. Rims are disposable, give me some cheap steelies anytime. I mean, I own 3 cars right now,and none of them even has a radio.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I think the Versa makes the most sense as a super-bargain base version.

    Including the destination charge, once you move up to the trim with CVT and cruise you’re looking at $15.5K and the trim with an armrest, fold down seats, power windows/locks is $16.8K. I’m not saying the Versa is without any virtue at those prices, but it does meet a thicker competitor-set at that level.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Have to admire a vehicle that doesn’t try to put on airs or pretend to be something that it isn’t. Simple, inexpensive transportation for 1 to 4. With styling that is so plain, that it will never be either in our out of date. Unlike some products (Juke, C-HR, Civic hatch, for example).

  • avatar
    vehic1

    I suppose that automakers often make the entry-level, rock-bottom vehicles homely (Versa, Ecosport, the old Toyota Echo, etc.) to shame buyers into forking over a few more for a Sentra, Escape, or Corolla – sometimes pre-owned.
    Some of the Versa hatchbacks looked a bit better, at least.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    The Versa’s a fine little appliance, but it’d be hard not to justify spending another $2K and getting a Hyundai Accent with 30 more hp, power everything, cruise control, and styling that doesn’t scream “cheap.”

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      At this price point $2k is like a 15%+ price increase, which is quite a bit. It’s like telling someone stretching their budget for a $25k car “hey why not just spend $30k?” The versas trunk is usefully larger as well, as is rear legroom.

  • avatar
    NN

    Beirut Taxi….perfect description. This has that 3rd-world form over fashion mentality. Makes sense–this car is popular in China, Mexico, and other similar markets.

    Given that, it’s long past time for Nissan to bring back the T-square on this design and make it a funky remake of the 80’s Sentra/Stanza look. Square all those curves out and gain cubic inches of interior space. Lose a couple mpg’s maybe, maybe not. Then all of a sudden we’ll all get nostalgic about the base Japanese cars we used to be able to get. Sales will go up.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      This “flavor” of simple low cost b-class sedan is the overwhelming go-to for new car buyers in Russia. The Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Renault Logan, VW Polo sedan, Lada Granta, Datsun OnDo, etc. small sedans with maximum utility in terms of passenger and trunk space, durable and cheap to repair suspensions with raised clearance and oil pan skid plates. The Korean twins have the best quality and dynamics, but the worst ground clearance from what I’ve seen and read. Hatchbacks are seen as not having enough cargo space since most of the time the whole family is going somewhere on a trip.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Buying a Versa is like buying a washing machine for the people who buy them. It’s just an appliance to get you from point A to point B.

    Isn’t it the lowest priced new car out there? Off course it has drum brake in the rear. Do you think you can tell the difference when you drive to Walmart? Are you going to heat them up to the point they will fade? I don’t know how much more disc brakes would cost in the rear, but it all ads up. It’s actually a nicer car then you have a right to expect at this price point.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    An Econ major might also consider one more facet of ownership: long term viability. If you drive a Versa – and I have – you will prefer dental work without painkillers to driving this thing it until it’s paid off. It’s that bad.

    For cars like this, that’s important – the value on these drops like a rock. If you try to trade this baby – or any of these ultra-cheap cars – in early, you’re going to be so Upside Down that you’ll swear you see a demogorgon.

    (And with that I cease the “Stranger Things” references.)

    In other words, if you buy a car like this, you’re stuck with it for four years or more. Therefore, I’d argue it’d be a better move to spend a few more bucks on something that you aren’t going to want to kill with fire in a couple years’ time. So, yeah, crop a couple grand more on a Fiesta or a Sonic. The difference over a five year note is what – thirty or forty bucks a month? It’s money well spent.

    • 0 avatar
      Deckard77

      I owned the 2015 Ace of Base model for 3 years. It really wasn’t that bad. The value proposition is frankly amazing. For 10k you get A/C, Bluetooth, a compliant ride, vague gearbox, and 37 mpg. In 1998 I bought an Ace of Base Sentra for 8k. The monthly payment was actually higher due to APR. The Sentra had no A/C, power steering, passenger side mirror, radio, speakers or antenna. And 13″ 80 series rubber.

      No inflation in Ace of Base land!

      One thing I never hear mentioned about the Versa: it has no power locks (obviously), and only the driver’s door is keyed. So if you want to open the door for your date, or fetch an item from the passenger side, or someone parks so close to the driver’s side that the door won’t open, you’re out of luck. Nissan, spring for a passenger lock FFS!

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Mike your mistake is that you think the person buying a Vera cares one whit about driving dynamics. What they do care about is fitting their kid in a car seat and the rest of their family and things for a trip, something the Versa does better than anything else in the subcompact class.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      ‘So, yeah, crop a couple grand more on a Fiesta or a Sonic. The difference over a five year note is what – thirty or forty bucks a month? It’s money well spent.’

      Precisely why so many people don’t have $500 set aside for emergencies.

      I can do a lot with $2400 over five years at $40 a month. Plus interest and without depreciation and maintenance eroding that easy peasy “investment”.

      That sort of thinking is financially suicidal.

      Yes: let them eat cake.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I had a Rogue Sport as a rental for about 10 days. It was a base model and retailed for over $20k. I will agree that it got the job done, getting me from point A to point B in relative comfort. But for $20k and change, I really don’t see anything to like about it. I could make a list of things I didn’t particularly like, a few things I hated.

    At $10k, I can see the virtue of a base Versa sedan. But when equipped with a CVT and a few amenities for $15k, not so much. These base model cars, even in the cheapest price segments, are the best argument for buying a low mileage used vehicle. Unless you simply must have “New”, there is really no compelling reason to buy these over a better, larger, more well equipped used vehicle at a similar price. I think you will be happier in the end.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Undeniably ace of base. I wish my enemies drive these

  • avatar
    SixspeedSi

    Admittedly I’ve been one to hate on the Versa, call me bitter for working at Enterprise for 4 years and driving/cleaning them way too much. However, looking back they really aren’t bad, especially for the low price. Decent driving CVT withstanding and offer way more room than others in the class. I always preferred the Accent just because of the traditional automatic but can see the merits of the Versa.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    I liked the first gen hatchback ones. Nice corduroyish/twill seat fabric like 80’s VWs and a very large amount of rear seat room. A coworker had one and was a preferred go out to lunch car for all the space it had. Didn’t handle well but had a nice ride for a small car. I credited that to the French influence. Also 106Hp in 2008 not as bad as today. The new ones fell cheaper in every way save for the touchscreen.

  • avatar
    mikehagerty

    My wife owns a ’13. Bought new five and a half years ago by her ex-husband. It’s a fine little car for around town, and we have taken it on the road (500 miles roundtrip). Zero trouble, paid for and, because of how we use it, it only has 45,000 miles on the clock. Oh, and 40-ish miles per gallon. There are a million cars I’d rather drive, but there’s nothing really wrong with the Versa, especially when it comes to reliability and cost of ownership.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    I like these and see a lot of them around town. They’re certainly a step up from the Mitsubishi Lancer and Chevrolet Spark.

  • avatar
    Cap Hathaway

    My ex had one of these as a company-provided work vehicle a couple years ago. It was positively dreadful. It felt every bit as cheap and non-cheerful as it was. Slow, loud, uncomfortable, depressing interior, terrible transmission. His personal vehicle was a 2011 Golf, which felt like it was hewn from the finest Maine granite by master masons in comparison.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    What brand and model are those 15″ tires?

  • avatar
    HaveNissanWillTravel

    We have a ‘17 Versa S 5M and absolutely love it. I picked it up as a backup car for my family. We have a soon to be driving teenager and with this family of 6, not every body goes shopping together all the time. We have a Quest for that business.

    It returns good mileage, AC is ice cold, trunk is huge and backseat room is incredible for a subcompact, very roomy. Sure, it’s an appliance but with the stick it is fun to drive and lowering the recommended tire PSI eliminates the drifty handling it can exhibit on the freeway.

    Love it.

  • avatar
    mikeyp.1

    I guess I am just a bottom feeder but I think I would like a Note 5-speed if they gave it the 125 horse engine from the Kicks.


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