A red 2021 Nissan Versa is driving on a wide city street at night.

Everything You Want For Under $20k? The 2021 Nissan Versa

For drivers who still have to commute and would rather not pay a lot for the daily shuttle, the 2021 Nissan Versa is an efficient little compact car that has a low price tag and a lot of features. You get the benefits of excellent gas mileage if you go with the continuously variable transmission and the kind of trunk space you expect in a midsize sedan. Even if you go for the uppermost trim with a few added options, you can still expect to pay under $20,000, which is unusual in today’s car market. Few vehicles offer the kind of safety features and technology that Nissan brings to the Versa.

Last year in 2020, the Versa was completely redesigned with more features, more power, and stunning good looks. All the needs of modern life are incorporated into a small package, and Nissan took the time to make the interior feel more upscale than the price would suggest. Then again, there are reasons to avoid the lowest trim level – unless you don’t have a smartphone or don’t plan to pair it with your vehicle. Still, every trim comes with an impressive set of standard safety features, a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, and front-wheel drive. Nifty features like remote entry with a push-button start and voice recognition are just a couple of the modern conveniences you’ll find inside every 2021 Versa.

Attractive Interior and Technology Options

When you settle into the driver’s seat, the sweeping lines of the dash will catch your eye immediately. Stitching in the dash and seats gives this compact car a punch of personality, and the flat-bottom steering wheel adds a splash of sport. A standard seven-inch touchscreen sits atop the center stack to access your infotainment and vehicle settings, as well as display the feed from the backup camera. Cloth upholstery is standard across the lineup, although each trim gets a unique fabric. Unfortunately, the steering wheel and shift knob are hard plastic unless you opt for the top SR trim.

The trunk has a surprising amount of space for a subcompact car at some 15 cubic feet, which is the average space in a midsize sedan. Nissan thoughtfully lowered the load height and widened the mouth of the trunk to make it easier to get items inside, a feature that will be handy when lifting heavy or large items. In the upper two trims, you can enjoy even more cargo space with the 60/40 split rear seat that will fold down to accommodate large items. Plenty of spots to plug in devices, place your drinks, and stash small items can be found in both front and back seats.

When it comes to technology, Siri Eyes Free is standard on every trim level. However, full smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is missing from the base S trim. Fortunately, Bluetooth streaming is available on all trims, so if you want to stick with the least expensive trim, you can still enjoy the benefit of hands-free driving and audio streaming. Buttons for all these systems are located on the steering wheel for ease of use while driving, or just use voice commands to access them when you’re on the road. More tech like SiriusXM satellite radio and an advanced drive-assist display is also available, with the latter offering maps, texts, and navigation info in your dash display.

The black interior of a 2021 Nissan Versa is shown.

Safety Features for Every Trim

Before delving into the long list of driver-assist safety technology in the 2021 Versa, it bears mentioning the technology that’s passively keeping you safe while you drive. In case the technology somehow fails to catch an accident before it happens, Nissan engineered the Versa with front and rear crumple zones, advanced airbags, and an energy-absorbing steering column. Each of these features keeps passengers safer when impacts occur by making sure the vehicle doesn’t crush the occupants. Other features, like an available rear-seat monitor and the standard engine immobilizer, are also present to keep you and your family safe.

Many manufacturers are now making certain safety features standard across all trims, even for subcompact cars, and Nissan is leading the way with its Safety Shield 360 technologies. For instance, rear automatic braking isn’t something you often see available for less expensive cars, yet the Versa comes with it standard on every trim. Because the 2021 Versa is equipped with front and rear sensors, it can detect objects or pedestrians in your driving line and will automatically brake if you don’t react to the warning signal. You get this feature for front and rear movement, plus you get automatic high beams that switch to low beams for oncoming traffic and lane departure warning, among a few others.

Upper trims gain a few extra features like blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, and intelligent driver awareness. The driver awareness feature monitors your steering, and if it senses you are not as responsive as you should be, it will alert you to take a break. The only driver-assist feature that you have to pay extra for is adaptive cruise control. To get this feature, you have to add the convenience package, which will also give you heated front seats and automatic climate control.

A red 2021 Nissan Versa is backing into a parking spot on a city street.

Stand-Out Options

Nissan has innovated a few features that separate the Versa from the pack of subcompact cars. In line with the brand’s newest “Intelligent Mobility” motto, the 2021 Versa comes with “follow me home” headlights. This feature allows you to click on the headlights after the vehicle has been shut off, effectively lighting your way to the front door if the house is dark. Each click of the turn signal wand will provide 30 seconds of time, so you can give yourself enough time to get to the door, find your house key, and get inside before the lights go out automatically.

If you purchase the upper trim, you can enjoy the benefits of the intelligent key, which allows entry to the vehicle and trunk without using the key. As long as the key is with you, the door will open when you press a “request” button on the door handle. The trunk can also be remotely closed using the intelligent key, and the car will be able to start and run without placing the key in the ignition. Just press the start button, and you’re off to the races. Since everyone has accidentally locked their keys inside a vehicle at some point, the locking mechanism won’t engage from the outside as long as the key is still inside the vehicle.

An Affordable Car With Modern Features

With so many features and comforts, the Nissan Versa is worth a look for buyers who want to save on both purchase price and fuel. Remember, the 2021 Versa gets great fuel efficiency if you buy one with the CVT (although the manual is arguably more enjoyable). With the CVT, you get up to 40 MPG on the highway, which is excellent for sipping fuel. Driving the Versa will be good for highway cruising, with a relatively quiet cabin and the tech to keep you entertained on long drives. Of course, city driving will be a cinch with such a maneuverable vehicle that can park virtually anywhere. With those sensors all around the vehicle combined with the rearview monitor, you won’t accidentally thump anyone’s fender while you park.

Nissan is making an effort to increase both safety and innovative tech in their vehicles, and it will be exciting to see what future vehicles are coming from the brand. They have made it clear that the way forward is to automate as much as possible to help achieve a future free of accidents, and their commitment to including standard safety features has made their current lineup some of the safest vehicles we could hope to own.