Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A close up shows the front end of a 2021 Nissan Versa from a high angle.

Charms of the 2021 Versa

The 2021 Nissan Versa is above and beyond the cliches of affordable compact cars. The Versa provides surprisingly upscale style and impressive comfort, all at a still reasonable price. Underneath the stylish and modern exterior, the Versa is smartly engineered to provide maximum reliability and economy, thanks to a fuel-sipping engine and lightweight design. Bristling with safety, entertainment, and connectivity technology, it is a far cry from the humble tin cans compact cars once were. From the outside in to the inside out, the 2021 Versa impresses in ways compact cars very rarely do.


The most striking and impressive part of the new Versa is the sedan’s upscale exterior styling. Intelligently incorporating design elements from the larger members of the Nissan family, the Versa is no afterthought. The arching creases and aggressive angles of the Versa are super modern, bordering on futuristic. The design is more than a little daring yet somehow comes across as unpretentious despite its upscale look. Part of why the look works so well is that it makes the Versa look larger than it actually is, using several visual cues to make the compact proportions into a styling asset rather than a burden. The 2021 Versa makes its competition look underdressed.


The clean and modern look continues on the inside of the Versa. The interior is straightforward, almost to the point of minimalism, with most controls found on the steering wheel itself in the pursuit of an optimal ergonomic layout. The wheel itself is flat-bottomed to allow even very tall people to slip into the driver’s seat easily, a trait gleaned from race cars. Overall, the interior is dominated by the single large infotainment screen on display in the center of the dashboard. That large 7-inch touchscreen is a standard feature and is the center of the interior’s many infotainment options. Bluetooth hands-free phone calls are a standard feature, as are voice command inputs and rearview camera display.

Among further available features are heated front seats, remote engine start, automatic climate control, SiriusXM satellite radio, and compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Many of these options would have only been seen on luxury cars a decade or two ago, but now the Versa brings them to the compact market.

The Versa is equally impressive in terms of its overall interior space. The compact car’s 88.9 cubic feet of total interior volume is a staggering number approaching what some mid-size cars from other manufacturers produce. This total interior volume means excess space and comfort for driver and passengers while increasing the amount of cargo the Versa can carry at the same time. This impressive amount of space is confirmed by the individual comfort statistics. In the front row, the Versa offers 39.5 inches of headroom, 44.5 inches of legroom, 50.9 inches of hip room, and 53.1 inches of shoulder room. These are incredible numbers for this class of vehicle.

A close up shows the open trunk full of luggage in a red 2021 Nissan Versa.


The drivetrain options of the 2021 Nissan Versa are based on a compact and efficient engine and two transmission options. The engine is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder, built with an emphasis on economy and reliability. This emphasis is apparent in the areas of the engine that are noticeably high tech. The aluminum construction of the engine saves a significant amount of weight, making the entire car a couple of hundred pounds lighter and less front-heavy, improving handling. This lack of weight also improves city driving gas mileage significantly since there is less mass to have to consistently accelerate.

In terms of fuel delivery and ignition, the areas of an engine that produce the most emissions and inefficiency, the Versa’s 1.6-liter is very modern. It has 16 valves to allow the right amount of air to mix with the multi-point injected fuel. While those features curtail emissions and cut fuel usage, other specifications of the engine point to its design goals for reliability and durability. The engine only has a 10.4 to 1 compression ratio, meaning that the engine structure and internals are not actually under that much stress. This allows the engine to last for decades on end with just oil changes and gasoline fill-ups instead of engine rebuilds.

Safety Features

The safety systems of the Versa are designed to keep the affordable car out of trouble if possible and dually protect the occupants if an accident does occur. The Versa is one of the first compact cars sold in America to be fitted with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. This system uses sensors to classify probable obstacles near the vehicle and has the software that will act on this information faster than a human reaction time. This feature set is standard on all 2021 Versas.

Additionally, the SV and SR grades of Versa come standard with blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert, giving the driver a far greater ability to avoid collisions using sensors to see what the driver cannot. Finally, the Versa comes standard with advanced stability control and traction control, further assisting the driver in maintaining control of the vehicle in extreme conditions and situations. The Versa also comes standard with side-impact airbags, as well as roof-mounted curtain side-impact airbags, among other impact mitigation features. The Versa comes equipped with an array of safety features older cars simply don’t have the technology to match, from advanced driving assists to watchful sensor systems and autonomous emergency braking.

A red 2021 Nissan Versa is shown from behind driving up a ramp.


The backbone of the 2021 Nissan Versa is its efficient and durable steel unibody. The unibody is a type of frame that is also the body of the vehicle, minimizing weight while maximizing rigidity and strength. Not only does this type of construction aid economy, performance, and comfort, but it also tends to make vehicle safety better. The Versa uses independent strut front suspension, enabling small and lightweight packaging. Twin-tube shock absorbers control the car’s body motion while keeping the tires planted on the pavement for grip and safety. They also contribute to the Versa’s smooth ride.

Brakes are the most important safety feature of any vehicle, and the Versa comes equipped with ventilated front disc brakes ten inches in diameter. This is a respectable size that allows heat to be wicked away from the braking system quickly, enhancing its effectiveness and reducing fade during extreme braking. In addition to the Versa’s braking hardware, it also uses advanced software to help manage how the brakes are used. The anti-lock braking system keeps the brakes from locking up the wheels under panic braking, allowing the Versa to stop far sooner in most emergency conditions and avoid sliding into further trouble. Automatic braking is an important feature of the Versa that is also tied into the vehicle’s safety sensors.

The Nissan Versa is the Compact for You

On both the outside and inside, the Versa goes above and beyond when it comes to providing a safe, reliable, economical, and stylish vehicle to the consumer. Unlike compact cars of old, it is purposefully stylish inside and out while maintaining reliability by design. A fuel-sipping engine built from the get-go to last decades and providing enough power to easily motor around town bolsters the Versa’s already impressive portfolio of reasons why it is one of the best compact cars on the market today. Visit your local Nissan dealer to learn more about and test drive the 2021 Nissan Versa.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *