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New vs Used: Nissan Versa

When searching for a Nissan Versa, you might wonder if you’re better off buying a used Versa or springing for a brand new one. Let’s find out!

Buy Smart: Nissan Versa


One of the biggest questions when searching for a new car is whether you should buy a brand-new car or find a lightly used example. There are some advantages to both approaches, but it often comes down to your budget and if there are certain features you have to have. Buying a brand-new car means you don’t have to worry about its past maintenance, or lack thereof, while buying a used car that is only a few years old is a great way to save some money. If you’re considering the shopping for a Nissan Versa, you might wonder how the new one stacks up to one that is a few years old, so read on and find out.

New vs Used Nissan Versa Specs

2019 Nissan Versa 1.6L I4 - carsforsale.com
2019 Nissan Versa 1.6L I4 - carsforsale.com

The Nissan Versa is one of Nissan’s smallest vehicles, offering excellent fuel economy to make it the ideal commuter for someone looking to maximize value. We even named it as one of the best entry level cars from Nissan, which you can read about more here. For this comparison, we chose the new 2021 Nissan Versa and the 2019 Nissan Versa for our used instance. Both are subcompact sedans with seating for five people, have a small engine for optimal fuel economy, and both have relatively basic interiors.

2019 Nissan Versa - usa.nissannews.com
2019 Nissan Versa - usa.nissannews.com

The used Nissan Versa from 2019 is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces a modest 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque. It was connected to either a five-speed manual transmission or Nissan’s continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and sends its power to the front wheels exclusively. The manual transmission was given an EPA rating of 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, while the CVT bested those numbers achieving 31 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.

2021 Nissan Versa 1.6L I4 - carsforsale.com
2021 Nissan Versa 1.6L I4 - carsforsale.com

The newer 2021 Nissan Versa is also powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, however it gets a nice bump in power with 122 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque thanks to a 2020 refresh. Power is still routed to the front wheels through either a five-speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic one. The 2021 model also benefits from superior fuel efficiency numbers than the 2019 model, with EPA ratings of 27 mpg city and 35 mpg on the highway when equipped with the manual and 32 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway with the CVT. Looking purely at the horsepower and fuel efficiency ratings, it looks like the new Versa has the advantage.

2021 NIssan Versa - usa.nissannews.com
2021 NIssan Versa - usa.nissannews.com

The biggest difference between the new and the older used Nissan Versa is styling. The 2019 model has plain, unoffensive styling, with blob shaped headlights. The 2021 model, however, looks much sharper, with narrower, more aggressive headlights with LED illumination, and a strong character line to give it a more modern and cohesive look.

Driving and Performance

When it comes to performance, the Nissan Versa is simply not designed to wow. The small engine and transmission are designed to achieve excellent fuel economy not blistering acceleration. Both the used and new Versa take over 9 seconds to reach 60 mph, and, thanks to more weight, the new Versa’s power advantage really doesn’t make a difference. Both models ride comfortably and handle adequately well enough for a car designed to be inexpensive and efficient, which is part of the reason it was named one of the best commuter cars. The new model does get slightly stiffer suspension, for sportier handling though.

Comfort and Interior

The interior of both versions come with simple cloth seats with manual adjustments. Although they are small, the interiors are surprising spacious. The 2019 Nissan Versa model offers a little more interior space, with 90.2 cubic feet of passenger space compared to 88.9 cubic feet in the 2021 model. The used Nissan Versa also boasts a bit of extra headroom, offering 39.8 inches compared to 39.5. Cargo capacity is quite even, with the 2021 model offering 15.0 cu-ft to 14.9 cu-ft in the 2019 model.

When it comes to the technology offered, the used model was offered with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that included Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 2021 Nissan Versa gets a 7-inch screen across all trim levels, along with smartphone integration. It’s a small thing, but the 2021 model gets power windows across the entire lineup, while the base version of the used Versa had manual crank windows.

Trims and Features

2019 Nissan Versa SV - carsforsale.com
2019 Nissan Versa SV - carsforsale.com

The 2019 Nissan Versa was offered in three trim levels: S, S Plus, and SV. The S trim started around $13,300 and the SV started below $17,000, when new. The 2021 Nissan Versa is also offered in three trims: S which starts at $14,980, SV which starts at $17,790, and SR which starts at $18,390. As each trim gets the same engine, the trim differences really come down to interior options and technology. The 2019 models have 15-inch wheels at best while the 2021 Versa is offered with up to 17-inch aluminum wheels to match the sportier exterior styling. Cruise control is standard across all 2021 trims, but only on upper-level trims for the 2019 models.

2021 Nissan Versa SR - carsforsale.com
2021 Nissan Versa SR - carsforsale.com

The 2021 Versa also beats the 2019 model with active safety technology across all trims, with standard lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. The newer SR and SV trims also come with rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning, and intelligent driver alertness to notify you when it might be wise to take a break from driving.

Is the Used Nissan Versa the Right Choice?

It’s hard to make a bad decision when comparing the new Nissan Versa to a used one. Both are simple commuting machines, with frugal engines and enough comfort and features to not feel like a penalty box. The 2019 Nissan Versa has maintained its value very well, with used prices ranging around $12,000 dollars with 35-40k miles, while very low mileage examples are listed for over $18,000. That means price is not much of a factor, with 2021 models listed at around $20,000 for the top SR trim. It then really comes down to preference and budget. If you’re trying to save every last dollar, finding a used Nissan Versa with moderate mileage would be the way to go. If you can stretch a little, the new Nissan Versa wins out with a more attractive design, superior fuel economy, and additional safety tech.

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Jim Carlson

For Jim Carlson, a passion for cars goes back to riding in his uncle's 1971 Corvette! That established a lifelong interest in cars that hasn't subsided. Whether he's detailing a car, going for a drive, or walking through a car show, Jim takes the time to appreciate what makes a car 'go.' He’s especially fond of sports cars. Jim's reviews and articles are filled with a broad knowledge about cars, but he also puts to use his fiscal expertise, thanks to a Bachelor's Degree in financial management from the University of Minnesota, Morris.

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