Thanks to $3.00 gas, the small car war is heating up again. And the latest soldier on America’s front lines is the 2007 Nissan Versa. The Versa, like other new subcompacts, is stylish, and while small outside, is very roomy inside. But, naming your car the Versa, as in versatility, makes it sound like it offers much more.

Amid all the flash of luxury car and utility intros at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, you could be excused for missing the arrival of the subcompact 2007 Nissan Versa. But, Nissan has big hopes for their latest small but tall city car. Indeed, the Mexican-built Versa joins an increasingly crowded entry-car segment with the also all-new Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit already carving out their slice of the pie. So for this newest Nissan to succeed, it has to deliver much more than just more miles per gallon.

To start with, the Versa is available in two useful body styles. A sporty 5-door hatchback hits the market first, to be followed by a 4-door sedan in the fall.  The look is a chunky cross between compact and crossover, with the deep front end, high character line, and sharp Euro-style greenhouse, giving it a look close to its larger stable-mate the new Quest minivan.
Both hatchback and sedan are built on Nissan’s “B” platform, which is shared with the popular Nissan Tiida and Cube in Japan, and the Renault Clio and Scenic in Europe. The “B” platform maximizes interior space with a long 102.4-inch wheelbase, pushing the wheels to the corners for short front and rear overhangs.  And a cabin that’s 6-feet long, and in the hatchback that we drove, boasts an impressive 94.4 cubic-feet of interior room.

The cabin is also very well equipped, with standard air-conditioning, CD audio and power mirrors.  Safety features abound with front side impact airbags, front and rear head curtain airbags, and tire pressure monitoring.

The Versa boasts wide, well-padded, pedestal-high bucket seats with nice looking cloth upholstery. We found them to be more comfortable than either Yaris or Fit. Adjustments are basic but include seat height with the upgraded SL trim.

But a tilt steering wheel is standard. There are handsome chrome rimmed gauges.  Clean, logical switchgear for both climate controls and a standard CD stereo with an auxiliary input for portable MP3 players. Something you pay extra for on most rivals. Available options include audio controls on the steering wheel, satellite radio, blue tooth and a smart key; plus a Rockford Fosgate powered subwoofer.

But the most welcome feature in the Versa is the big rear seat which has real adult leg and head room, and is wide enough for three commuters. The 60/40 split seat doesn’t fold upright, or into a lounge chair, like the Honda Fit, but it does fold flat quickly.
The 5-door’s maximum cargo space is an impressive 50 cubic feet. Even with all seats occupied, cargo space is still healthy, with 17.8 cubic-feet in the hatchback, and a 13.8 cubic-foot trunk in the sedan.

The Versa’s motivation comes from a new all-aluminum 1.8-liter dual-cam 4-cylinder, with a generous for its class 122 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. Expect a 0-60 scoot of 9.5 seconds which is about normal for its class. But transmissions are not. A 6-speed manual is standard. Optional is a conventionally geared 4-speed, or Xtronic continuously variable unit.

All drivetrain combinations deliver high levels of fuel economy, with the best being the CVT’s EPA rating of 30 city and 36 highway.
On the road, the 1.8-four has acceptable reserve power, with the expected high rpm vibration.

Handling is capable thanks to a well tuned front strut, rear torsion beam suspension, and wide footprint 15-inch tires. But it’s a mild, safe kind of capable, with moderate levels of front plow and plenty of wheel travel to soak up urban potholes.

Versa delivers a softer ride than the Honda Fit, and it isn’t quite as nimble. On the other hand, in the Versa you feel like you are driving a larger, more substantial car. Brakes impressed us that way too. Front discs and rear drums, with optional ABS, Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution.

But even with high gas prices, buyers expect small cars to have low prices. And the Versa meets that challenge. Both sedan and hatchback carry a sticker of $12,555 for the base S-grade model. For $14,555 the Versa SL adds cruise control, power windows and locks, plus a 6-disc CD changer.
The 2007 Nissan Versa lives up to both its name and its class, offering more than expected with a roomy, flexible, and polished interior, fine road manners, high-value pricing, and of course, true fuel economy. It is an extremely able subcompact. Giving thrifty-minded car buyers yet another stylish way to keep $3-a-gallon gas from becoming the road to the poorhouse. 



  • Engine: All-aluminum 1.8-Liter Dual-cam 4-Cylinder
  • Horsepower: 122
  • Torque: 127 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 9.5 Seconds
  • EPA: 30 MPG City/ 36 MPG Highway

Long Term Updates

Mileage: 2,500

Interior roominess and fuel economy are also high points and in fact primary design criteria, for this 2007 Nissan Versa’s SL 5-door hatchback.

Front seat or back, the subcompact Versa provides much of the comfort of a mid-size sedan, plus the cargo capabilities of a small utility. After 2 months and 2,500 commuter miles, fuel economy is okay at 27.9 miles-per-gallon using regular gas, but we expect it to rise further.

The 122-horsepower 4-cylinder provides good oomph off the line. Our car’s 6-speed manual has a solid shift feel, although some of our staff complained their big feet slide off the small brake and clutch pedals.

Otherwise, our versatile Versa is proving that small size isn’t a big limiting factor.

Mileage: 3,800

Time is scooting swiftly by with our 2007 Nissan Versa SL hatchback. It was a short five months ago that we took delivery of this new-age subcompact, and from day one we were impressed with its combination of big interior and small appetite.

Our total test mileage has changed little since last report – 27.5 miles-per-gallon. While we expected it to be higher, that’s still not bad considering we’ve use the Versa mostly as a commuter car.

On the other hand, this five-door’s generous five-passenger interior also makes it a viable vehicle for an impromptu Road Test staff lunch out.

The 122-horsepower 1.8-liter 4-cylinder is strong for its class and we really appreciate it when pulling into traffic. And, with a 6-speed manual, you can always find a proper gear.

As the debate over Global Warming intensifies, the Nissan Versa says a lot about what lies ahead for the family car.

Mileage: 8,000

We’ve reached the half-way mark in our year long test of the versatile 5-door 2007 Nissan Versa. This tall, wide, handsome subcompact has been doing mostly commuter and airport duty, with the occasional long trip tossed in for good measure.

Through all of 8,000 miles our nicely equipped SL variant has returned good comfort and good mileage. Using regular gas, our average has jumped up to 28.9, one and a half mile per gallon gain since last report.

While we know a 6-speed manual would not be most buyers’ choice, it really gets the most out of the Versa’s 122-horsepower 1.8-liter 4.

Our staff has noticed a few things. The clutch engages with a jerk, it’s either on or off. The side mirrors could be bigger. And crosswinds push the upright Versa around more than we’d like.

Still, commuting in the Nissan Versa can be one of the best parts of your day.

Mileage: 12,500

Useful space and high mileage are key subjects of discussion for this front-wheel drive Nissan Versa SL.

Eight months and 12,500 miles on, we continue to be impressed with how much space resides inside the Versa’s subcompact footprint. Ditto the 28.5 mile-per-gallon economy on regular grade gas.

Our car’s 6-speed manual gets the most out of the Versa’s 122-horsepower 1.8-liter 4. We know most buyers will opt for the optional CVT automatic, but that would take a lot of fun out of this willing commuter.

On the downside, its tall, wide, boxy shape makes it very susceptible to crosswinds.

Still, commuting in the Nissan Versa is a fun way to start your day.

Mileage: 15,000

If ever there was a car that signified the old saying, “big things come in small packages,” it would be our front-wheel drive Nissan Versa SL.

At 11 months and 15,000 miles, this subcompact continues to deliver big on interior space, versatility, driver satisfaction, and fuel economy. Our current average of 29.5 miles-per-gallon on regular grade gas is a new test high.

Our car’s 6-speed manual mates well to the 122-horsepower 1.8-liter four.

Versa’s tall, square shape does get pushed around by big trucks and the wind, but it never spoiled our commutes. If you are in the market for a versatile small car, the Nissan Versa certainly lives up to its name.

Mileage: 16,000

No vehicle represents the latest wave of subcompact cars better than the Nissan Versa. This tall front driver delivers the interior room of a family car, with stingy fuel economy, in a package that’s downright enjoyable to drive to work in the morning.

We should know, since for over a year and some 16,000 miles, our 2007 Versa SL Hatchback has been doing just such duty, and flawlessly.

Now, at the end of our long term test, we’re quite pleased with a final average of 29.2 miles-per-gallon with regular grade gas, in mostly stop and go traffic.

Our car’s 6-speed manual was the perfect match for the Versa’s 122-horsepower 1.8-liter 4. A smooth CVT automatic transmission is optional.

Versa’s upright stature does get pushed around by big trucks and wind, but it never once spilled our morning coffee.

And talk about an apt name, the Versa Hatchback’s interior is as versatile, and can handle more cargo than some compact crossover utilities.

Indeed, despite its small shadow, the Nissan Versa delivers big on almost every measure.