MPG-o-Matic Nissan Versa Review Summary: With solid real-world mileage results and a comfortable ride, the Nissan Versa is a worthy contender. After a 700 mile review, it’s clear that a 40 miles per gallon (MPG) average is well within range for light-footed drivers under the right conditions.
The Nissan Versa competes with the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, and Chevy Aveo, among others in the subcompact market. Available as both a four door sedan and a five-door liftback, the Versa slots in under the Sentra as the entry-level model in Nissan’s lineup.
Under the hood, the Versa is fitted with 1.8 liter DOHC four cylinder engine, producing 122 horsepower (HP) and 127 foot pounds of torque.
The official gas mileage estimates for the 2008 Versa are 27 city/33 highway MPG with the Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) and 26/31 with the 6-speed manual transmission.
In over seven hundred miles of driving, we trumped the official estimates with our Magnetic Gray Charcoal five-door hatchback test unit, scoring an average of 38.9 MPG on the Interstate highway, with 34.3 MPG combined. Temperatures ranged from the sixties through seventies, with freeway speeds between 65 and 70 miles per hour (MPH).
The Versa takes well to a light foot. We easily achieved a good number of 40 MPG loops while driving at speeds of 55 and under. Put your foot in it, and the Versa will oblige, with an obligatory drop in mileage.
Unfortunately, the 2008 Versa lacks both an average fuel economy and a real-time MPG display. While the omission is puzzling in an economy car, Nissan is not alone in this respect. These mileage displays are a fantastic means to optimal fuel efficiency with a minimum of investment, yet too many vehicles lack the gauges.
As we often do when presented with a shortcoming in information display, we plugged a ScanGauge II into the Versa’s OBDII port before rolling up the miles. Note that we always verify the digital results with tank fills, to take any inconsistencies into account.
ScanGauge Hint: Driving with an eye on the real-time MPG and throttle position sensor (TPS) displays allow you to fine-tune your technique while applying the lightest pressure on the accelerator pedal.
The Versa provides iPod integration via an in-dash input jack, with a power plug on the center console, next to the handbrake. While you might be tempted to simply leave your iPod on the console, it’s a good idea to stow your music player in the the flip down center armrest’s cubby to prevent it from flying about the cabin.
Given the time and ingenuity, you’ll want to snake a cable through the console for a cleaner installation.
All-in-all, we found the Nissan Versa SL to be quite capable, with a slew of standard features, including tilt wheel, cruise control, 6-speaker audio with 6-disc in-dash, micro-filtered A/C, rear wiper, and power locks and windows.
Our Versa SL’s $650 convenience package rounded things out nicely, with keyless entry, and a leather-wrapped steering providing Bluetooth phone and audio controls.
Although our road tests showed the Versa’s gas mileage results to fall short of the segment topping Toyota Yaris, the Versa’s remarkably roomy and comfortable interior and supportive seating are bound to put it at the top of many a short list.
The Versa earns a well-deserved thumbs up.
– by Daniel Gray