Nissan Versa Buyers FAQ

Nissan Versa FAQ: Purchasing a Versa (2008)

Overview

So it’s time to buy a new car. For most people, this is not a fun chore, and the dizzying amounts of choices can make the car buying decision all that much harder. We would like to help clarify everything we can to help your decision. We will also show you, from our point of view, why we feel the Versa its better than its competition.

Please note, all information given is based on the US model Versa hatchback or sedan, where applicable.

Versa: a Subcompact that isn’t

Chances are if you are here, it is because you are looking for a car that is economical, has good cargo room, or is small enough to easily park in the city. The great news is that the Versa is all of these, and more!

EPA fuel economy ratings for the Versa range from 27 MPG in the city to 33 MPG on the highway, when equipped with the CVT, based on the new 2008 EPA testing guidelines. There are also minimal fuel economy differences between the three available transmissions, so even a basic automatic is still thrifty with the fuel!

The standard cargo area of the Versa hatchback is very tall and wide, with reasonable depth as well. It is rated at 17.8 cubic feet with the rear seats in the upright position. The rear seats also fold down, increasing the cargo volume to about 50 cubic feet! One thing that you will notice if you fold the seats down is that they do not lie flat, because of the height of the rear seat pad and the hinging mechanism. Some people complain about this, but we have actually found this system to be advantageous. One Versa owner has even put two 34-gallon garbage cans side by side, standing up, in the well created by this, and they fit!  Another put 5 oversized off-road tires for his Jeep inside his Versa!

The Versa is extremely easy to park in the city. It uses an electric steering pump, so there is no loss of power steering at low speed. The Versa is very similar in dimensions to the Subaru Impreza and the Mazda3, making parking in tight spots much easier.

The bonus, however, is that the Versa utilizes every inch of its dimensions to the fullest potential. Nissan used a brand new engine design, made in conjunction with Renault, which decreases the amount of space required front-to-rear in the engine bay. The result is the ability to move the passenger cabin forward. Many people are surprised when they actually see a Versa for the first time, how roomy it is, and how upscale the interior is. There is an astonishing amount of rear-seat legroom; the Versa has been classified by the EPA, due to its amount of interior space, as a mid-size car. Even the glove compartment on this car is massive!

The Versa sedan is no slouch either, it has the same rear seat leg room as the hatchback and the 60/40 split fold-down seats. The sedan, while it cannot touch the hatchback’s versatility with cargo, still has more room than some other competitors in the segment, including the Kia Rio.

Versa: Economy Car or Techno Cruiser

Nissan spent a great quantity of time dealing with the human aspect of the Versa. In addition to the roominess of the car, there are many technological features to please, even on a base model. For those who like features and toys, the up-level SL has just about everything one could want available.

On the base S model, the list of standard features includes a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD player, air conditioning, 60/40 split fold seat, 6 air bags, and power steering and side mirrors. The S is designed to be the basic economy model, and as such has a starting price of around $12,550 plus destination. Available options are a power package (which adds power windows and locks, a keyless entry, and rear door pockets), cruise control, and an ABS package. The ABS package is VERY inexpensive and well worth the upgrade.

The SL is the creature feature model, adding 15” alloy wheels, cruise control with steering wheel mounted switches, power windows and locks, deluxe flat-woven cloth seating surfaces, keyless entry, and an in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 changer with a total of 6 speakers.

The list of options on the SL is extensive.

The ABS package is also available inexpensively on this trim line.  New for 2008 is extended flexibility in packaging, so you can choose a Versa that has the right features for you and still get ABS.

The Convenience Package adds handy and fun toys such as steering-wheel mounted audio and phone controls, a hands-free Bluetooth calling system (Bluetooth-compatible phone required), leather-wrapped steering wheel, and pre-wiring for Satellite radio. This package is required for most other packages, as well as adding a Nissan satellite radio kit. This is a very common kit on SLs, and most owners of these vehicles agree it is worthwhile.

The Audio Package upgrades the 6 speakers, and adds a Rockford Fosgate subwoofer in the trunk area. This package requires either both the Convenience package and XM satellite package, or the Sport package. This is a nice package if you want a little more oomph to your stereo, but don’t need a whole new stereo to be happy.

The Sunroof Package adds a power sliding glass sunroof and dual visor mirrors. While compared to other vehicles’ sunroof packages this one is inexpensive, it requires the audio and XM satellite packages as well.

There is now only one Satellite radio packages, XM. The package requires the Convenience package and Audio package, if ordered from the factory. This is an option that can be added at the dealership during purchase, but it still requires the Convenience package. Is it worth it? Well, ask just about anyone who has had satellite radio service. Having over 100 channels of music, talk, and sports at your fingertips with minimal commercial interruption… does that sound worthwhile?

Available on both trims of hatchback, as well as the SL trim of the sedan, is the Sport Package.  This package gives a spoiler, fog lights, and body effects.  For a more unique look to your Versa, this can be a good package.

Versa vs. Yaris

If you’re considering a Yaris vs. a Versa, we can help here.

Toyota has a good product in the Yaris. It uses Toyota’s proven 1.5L VVT 4-cylinder engine that gets phenomenal gas mileage. It also has Toyota’s reputation for reliability and low ownership costs. Furthermore, the starting price of a Yaris is lower than a Versa.

However, the Yaris has many problems of its own. Looking at specifications will not tell you that the Yaris is very uncomfortable for tall people to get into and out of because of its low door overhang. Even a 6’ tall person has to crane their neck almost onto their shoulder to get into and out of a Yaris. The Yaris is also much shorter in length, which makes any rear passengers suffer. The Versa has over 4 inches more rear leg room, and also far more cargo room in both seat-up and seat-down configurations.

While a basic Yaris is less than a Versa, you have to add on many option packages to get the features of a Versa, which brings the price to being comparable to or even more expensive than a Versa.

When these two cars were driven in a comparison test by Popular Mechanics, the article indicated that the Yaris was the least fun car to drive, but specifically stated that the driver doing the slalom tests preferred the Versa over all competitors, for how it made him feel.

Furthermore, a number of Versa owners that considered the Yaris before their purchase also noted that the fit and finish of the Versa is far better looking and higher quality than that of the Yaris.

Versa vs. Fit

Honda has its Fit in this category, and with Honda’s reputation they will be a strong competitor to the Versa.

Honda does have the edge in cargo room both in seats up and seats down positions, but again the Versa beats the Fit in rear legroom by 4 plus inches. Another thing specifications don’t tell you is that the seat pads in the Fit are far thinner than on the Versa, or that the Versa uses a half-inch thick layer of memory foam in its oversized seats to help with long-range comfort. Honda does not have this.

Honda still has a slight advantage in fuel economy over the Versa, but again as far as features for price, the Versa gives more bang for the buck.

Finding the Versa that’s right for you

As with any car, you should take a look at all of the options and build your preferred car on the Nissan website. This will give you a full view of what your car looks like, what options it has, and what the MSRP of the car is. Once you have that information, use the Nissan website to search the inventories of dealers near you.

If you cannot locate a car that you want on a lot, you can still work with a local dealer to see if they will either special order your car, or trade for stock from another dealer that has the car you are looking for.


Once you have located your Versa and are ready to go to the dealership, check out carbuyingtips.com for information on dealing with the sales staff and getting the most out of your purchase. Then, prepare for battle, and head off to the dealership.

If you are unable to locate the Versa you want, or one close enough that you could live with, there is the option of a factory order. Factory orders can be placed at dealerships and usually require at least some deposit. The good news is that you can get the exact car that you want, exactly how you want it.  Wait times will vary.  During the initial product release, backlogs were between 2 and 3 months.  Now that production and stock levels have increased, this timeframe should be shorter.  Check with your dealer for details.

Originally, Nissan planned to make 40% of the Versas as hatchbacks and 60% as sedans. After the initial explosive success of the hatchback, Nissan re-evaluated this and decided to reverse the numbers, making 60% hatchbacks and 40% sedans. This will also affect availability, making sedans more scare, but hatchbacks more plentiful.

We hope this has helped you in your car buying decision. If you do choose the Versa, as we have, then we would also hope to see you on the NissanVersa.org online forums. We are a relaxed community of Versa owners from all walks of life, and very much enjoy talking with each other about our cars and occasionally other things.


Article by: Geoffrey Reuther (Ever Victorious) - Versa Moderator