2019 Nissan Versa Sedan vs. 2019 Fiat 500

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Nissan Versa Sedan are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Fiat 500 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the Versa Sedan and the 500 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and rearview cameras.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Nissan Versa Sedan is safer than the Fiat 500:

 

Versa Sedan

500

 

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

311

384

Neck Injury Risk

28%

30%

Neck Compression

75 lbs.

152 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

3 Stars

3 Stars

Chest Compression

.6 inches

.6 inches

Neck Stress

239 lbs.

256 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

524/501 lbs.

479/866 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Nissan Versa Sedan is safer than the Fiat 500:

 

Versa Sedan

500

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

3 Stars

Spine Acceleration

32 G’s

54 G’s

Hip Force

584 lbs.

1103 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

Nissan’s powertrain warranty covers the Versa Sedan 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Fiat covers the 500. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the 500 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are almost 3 times as many Nissan dealers as there are Fiat dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Versa Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Versa Sedan’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the 500’s camshaft. If the 500’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Versa Sedan’s reliability 56 points higher than the 500.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Versa Sedan second among small cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The 500 isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 59 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 29th.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Versa Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the 500:

 

 

 

MPG

Versa Sedan

 

Manual

1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.

27 city/36 hwy

 

Auto

1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.

31 city/39 hwy

500

 

Manual

1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

28 city/33 hwy

 

 

1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

28 city/33 hwy

 

Auto

1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

 

 

1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Nissan Versa Sedan uses regular unleaded gasoline. The 500 requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Transmission

The Versa Sedan offers an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The 500 doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

The Versa Sedan stops much shorter than the 500:

 

Versa Sedan

500

 

70 to 0 MPH

179 feet

195 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

The Versa Sedan SV offers an optional easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The 500 doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

The Versa Sedan has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the 500; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

The Versa Sedan has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Versa Sedan flat and controlled during cornering. The 500 base model’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Versa Sedan’s wheelbase is 11.8 inches longer than on the 500 (102.4 inches vs. 90.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Versa Sedan is 2.9 inches wider in the front and 3.5 inches wider in the rear than on the 500.

The Versa Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (57.8% to 42.2%) than the 500’s (64% to 36%). This gives the Versa Sedan more stable handling and braking.

For better maneuverability, the Versa Sedan’s turning circle is 2.8 feet tighter than the 500’s (34.8 feet vs. 37.6 feet).

Chassis

The design of the Nissan Versa Sedan amounts to more than styling. The Versa Sedan has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .319 Cd (optional .288 Cd with CVT). That is significantly lower than the 500 (.352 to .362) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Versa Sedan get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Versa Sedan a Compact car, while the 500 is rated a Subcompact.

The Versa Sedan has standard seating for 5 passengers; the 500 can only carry 4.

The Versa Sedan has 14.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 500 (90.2 vs. 75.5).

The Versa Sedan has .9 inches more front headroom, 1.1 inches more front legroom, .3 inches more front hip room, 2.3 inches more front shoulder room, 1 inch more rear headroom, 5.3 inches more rear legroom, 3.6 inches more rear hip room and 5.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the 500.

Ergonomics

The Versa Sedan’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children from operating them. Fiat does not offer a locking feature on the 500’s standard power windows.

The Versa Sedan’s standard power window controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The 500’s available power window controls are spread out on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.

The Intelligent Key optional on the Versa Sedan SV allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Fiat 500 doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Versa Sedan has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The 500 doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Versa Sedan has standard extendable sun visors. The 500 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Versa Sedan owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Versa Sedan with a number “1” insurance rate while the 500 is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Versa Sedan is less expensive to operate than the 500 because it costs $36 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Versa Sedan than the 500, including $240 less for a water pump, $119 less for fuel injection, $67 less for a fuel pump and $6 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The Nissan Versa outsold the Fiat 500 by over 14 to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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