Does driving a cheap car equate to being green? Well, not if you’re driving a smoking old Mercury Monterey. But some of the new smaller cars are getting incredible mileage and doing it on the cheap.
The Nissan Versa used to be the butt of many jokes, but the new Versa sedan is a “serious upgrade” of a car that is bigger inside than the Fiesta, has a new dual-injector engine and a good continuously variable transmission (CVT), and can boast 30 mpg city and 38 highway in the sedan version.
Basic transportation never had it so good. The 2012 hatchback is the same car as last year’s, but Nissan dropped the base price $240 to $15,140, including a transportation charge of $760. The sedan, going on sale next month, starts at $11,750 (at $10,990, this is the lowest MSRP in the U.S.).
The new Versa sedan lost 150 pounds in weight and got a bigger trunk and a nice redesign. The engine is a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, putting out 109 hp (and 107 lb-ft of torque). There are three trim levels, the top being the SL, with the usual convenience goodies and the CVT: $16,320. For the base S version, air conditioning, 6-way adjustable seats, and an AM/FM/CD/Aux audio system are standard equipment.
Car and Driver says the interior “suffers from granite-hard surfaces and flagrant cost cutting. …But a Nissan Versa probably will keep you on your commuting schedule for just pennies per mile, the whole idea behind driving a cheap new car instead of rolling the dice with a used ride.”
Besides that, it’s better-looking and bigger inside than most of its competition in the compact class. The idea of offering something more than a stripped-down base model is smart—as the Cruze testifies. And the fact that Nissan has made a decent-performing CVT (standard in all but the base trim) is to its credit.
Another instance of green being in the eye of the beholder.
Do you think the new Nissan Versa sedan will catch on? Nissan sales increased 17 percent in June.