Honda Civic LX vs Nissan Versa SL

dbp54dbp54 Member Posts: 5
edited March 2014 in Honda
Hi all,
I need a new compact sedan to replace my 10 year old car. After doing some research over the internet, it comes down to Honda Civic LX Automatic or Nissan Versa SL (with CVT, ABS and convenience packages).

Yesterday I contacted several dealers and gets quite good offers on both (even lower than invoice ;-) ). Both cars will cost me approximately the same amount of money.

At the moment I really don't know what to choose. I like both, especially the Civic - for the look, styling, reliability and power. Besides, I can get the Civic now, instead of pre-order and wait for 2 months for the Versa.

However we have a small child and plan to have more in the next couple of years, so safety is the most important to us. Both of them are highly rated in crash tests, front, side and rear. But the Versa has 2 things that the Civic doesn't: BRAKE ASSIST (BA) and TIRE PRESSURE MONITORING SYSTEM (TPMS).
I don't know much about the real effectiveness of these 2 features, so please help! Any idea on how well they perform in reality?
Any help is appreciated!


  • jacksan1jacksan1 Member Posts: 504
    Hi. I am not sure what you mean by the brake assist. Are you referring to the EBD(electronic brake force distribution)?

    By the way, according to the Consumer Reports, the Versa without ABS came in (tied with the Toyota Yaris w/o ABS) as having the worst dry braking performance of all the cars they had tested for the year prior to the current annual auto issue. They also remarked that even with ABS the Versa's braking performance was not that impressive. I don't have on hand the stopping distance of the Civic, but i remember that CR had said nothing negative about it.

    If you have reviewed this forum or NICO Versa forum, you will notice that a large number of people have been reporting problems with the Versa's TPMS. It may be a liability, instead of an asset.
  • dbp54dbp54 Member Posts: 5
    Thanks for the info. If I choose Versa, I'm going to order one with ABS. It's a must cos our safety concern.

    Regarding braking distance, the Versa with ABS stops at 136 ft (from 60mph), the Civic stops at 130 ft. The difference is only 6 ft.

    About Brake Assist (BA): I read somewhere that 90% of drivers did not push hard enough on the brake in an emergency situation. BA will assist in such cases by "assisting" enough force to the brake.

    I guess Edmund's reviewers pressed the brake pedal as hard as they could when they tested the cars, so 130ft and 136ft are ideal distances.
    In real world, BA will likely help Versa drivers stop at close to 136 ft, while the lack of it in Civic means 90% of Civic drivers will not be able to stop at close to 130ft (how much more? I don't know).

    Honestly I'm not sure if my logic is correct as I only did my research over the internet for the last day or two, so please correct me if I'm wrong.
  • jacksan1jacksan1 Member Posts: 504
    Given that we can safely assume that the Edmunds testers knew what they were doing, if a car WITHOUT BA stops shorter than another car WITH BA, to me that indicates a poor braking performance of the car with BA. That result, of course, must be remembered as being a combination of multiple things. Many a Versa owner, for instance, complained about the poor traction of the OEM Contiental tires. Changing the tires may actually improve the Versa's braking performance (or may make it worse). The Versa's taller profile may also have something to do with it (higher center of gravity and larger weight shift forward).

    To you, it ought to make no difference what 90% of other drivers are doing. What is important is whether or not YOU can stop. If you know how to apply the full brake force, then by using the Edmunds' results, you can estimate that you will stop quicker in a Civic than in a Versa (by the way, 6 feet doesn't seem much, but there is a big difference in the aftermath between hitting something/someone and stopping 6 feet short of it).

    I am saying all these because braking performance is an important issue to you. For some of us, maybe it is not that important (it is to me). Everyone puts a different emphasis on different parts of the same car.
  • lemonhaterlemonhater Member Posts: 110
    I bough the versa sedan and LOVE IT…Great little car, and I really have very few complaints. However if I were you I would buy the Civic because you like it better and the two things that you listed are not THAT big a deal safety wise.
  • dbp54dbp54 Member Posts: 5
    Ideal conditions (Edmund testers):
    - Civic: 130 ft
    - Versa w/ABS & BA: 136 ft
    Real world conditions (90% of drivers):
    - Civic: 160 ft (for example)
    - Versa w/ABS & BA: 140 ft

    I really like the styling and quality of the Civic but the Versa is a bit larger inside, has more features, and perhaps a bit safer. Hmm... so hard to choose.
  • jacksan1jacksan1 Member Posts: 504
    perhaps a bit safer

    Be sure to check the crash safety ratings at NHTSA and IIHS and compare the two vehicles:
  • lemonhaterlemonhater Member Posts: 110
    Well the tires on the Versa are not high quality. I suggest you test drive one. I own one and I would defaintly not choose the current stock ones. They don't have enough grip.

    I love the convince pakagae on mine. I don't have the abs, and I do wish I had more braking power, but then again it isn't horrific just not stop on a dime.

    The CVT is differnt than an auto and the car behaves a tad differently. On a whole the CVT is smoother than a automatic, but it can be a tad jerky at times to(i.e. if you punch it).
  • dbp54dbp54 Member Posts: 5
    Be sure to check the crash safety ratings at NHTSA and IIHS and compare the two vehicles:


    IIHS tests show both cars have "Good" rating across the board.
    Government tests show Civic slightly better in frontal crash, while Versa slightly better in side crash.
    They both weight approximately the same.

    So it's safe to say they offer the same level of protection in crashes.

    But (on paper) the Versa LS is a bit better at PREVENTING crashes with it's Brake Assist (which comes with ABS package) and TPMS.
  • lemonhaterlemonhater Member Posts: 110
    The trouble with the TPS is it only tells you if your tires are inflated correctly. It won't warn you that the tire is about to have a blow out or somethihng. Correct inflation does in theory help braking and handing but frankly in terms of safety both cars are a wash.

    From my experince the with a non abs versa, it does not have good braking and the tires do not grip well to the road. In fact that is one of the few things I would change about the car.

    Otherwise I love the car. I love it's roomyness. Love the conveince pakage.

    If it were between the versa and the civic, and I liked the way the civic looked better. I would take the civic. There just isn't enough of a safety difference between the two cars to sweat about. Infact I would say either no safety difference OR if there is one it goes to the civic(not the versa).
  • morningsoupmorningsoup Member Posts: 1
    i current drive an accord v6 and my pops has a civic lx auto

    the civic has pretty awesome handling for having "softer" suspension that the coupe and the SI, and even in several hard stops, i didn't notice any real significant brake fade

    from my understanding, the sentra's frame is a crossover from small SUV?

    defenitely opt for the civic, you will not regret it, even Consumer Reports says that it is the best small sedan under 20k and I have to agree after driving numerous cars
  • backybacky Member Posts: 18,949
    ...the Versa is a bit larger inside

    I don't know what you mean by "a bit larger," but I sat in the Civic LX and the Versa hatch and sedan today within a few minutes of each other at my local auto show and the Versa seemed MUCH roomier inside than the Civic, both in rear legroom and in headroom. The rear legroom of the Versa is amazing for a car its size. When I adjusted the driver's seat height (SL) fairly high for good thigh support, I was able to move it forward too. I am 5'10", 32" inseam. With the driver's seat so adjusted, I had tons rear legroom, partly because there's a lot of space under the front seat for feet. There was more rear legroom than in the new Altimas sitting next to the Versas (partly because there isn't as much foot room under the Altima's seat). The Civic by comparison had much less rear legroom and also much less headroom, so it felt claustrophobic compared to the Versa. I thought the driving positions of both cars were good.
  • langjielangjie Member Posts: 250
    But they are both really good cars. The edge with the civic is that it's a little bit bigger and reliability shouldn't be an issue.

    The edge with the versa is that you are getting more car for your money (bluetooth, intellikey, EBD, TPMS, alloy rims i think)

    Even if the TPMS on the Versa doesn't work that well and only tells you when the tire is inflated incorrectly, it's better then nothing at all.

    If you can live without the extra's you get for a Versa, then I would definitely go with the civic based on reliability and the fact that you like the styling more. I'm surprised you would need to pre-order a Versa, there should be plenty of dealerships that have them, I'm sure you can find one for the same price
  • flightnurseflightnurse Member Posts: 2,217
    The sentra plateform is from a European car, not a crossover SUV, Nissan is coming out this Nov, with a Escape, CRV, RAV-4 size corssover SUV that is on the same plateform as the Sentra.
  • sandman46sandman46 Member Posts: 1,798
    Got out of a Nissan last year and into a Honda, Sentra and Civic. No comparison...Honda wins hands down. And I've had Nissan, Toyota, Isuzu & Datsun. For my money in the small/economy car...Honda rules! No more questions.

    The Sandman :)
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    money in the small/economy car...Honda rules! No more questions. ...unless you put passengers in the rear seat, want more cargo space and the versatility of a hatchback...if you value those, get a Versa (or a Fit).
  • sandman46sandman46 Member Posts: 1,798
    I've put 2 of my kids in the back seat of my Civic and have no complaints yet. And they are 20something. I do agree on the versatility of the Versa and similar hatchbacks though. That's what makes these cars great for 1st time buyers like my kids will be soon. Small enough on the outside, but roomy enough inside. After having sat in both the Versa and the Fit, I liked the Fit the best overall, but the Versa felt a bit roomier inside. Maybe it's because the windows just seemed larger.

    The Sandman :)
  • backybacky Member Posts: 18,949
    There is no comparison between the rear seats of the Versa and Civic. The Versa has more stretch-out room than even some mid-sized cars like the Altima. The Civic has just enough for medium-sized adults (like me). If rear-seat leg room is an important criterion, the Versa has it hands-down over the Civic, and every other car in the class.
  • flightnurseflightnurse Member Posts: 2,217
    I had some co workers in my versa, both were 6'3+ and had no problems. You could never do that in a civic. The VErsa has more room thena Civic or Fit.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731
    I am 6'4", and picked up my father (6'3"), and his boss (6'5") from the Airport in his own car (2007 Civic EX) because my mother was using my Accord. We all fit fine after seats were adjusted. The only big issue was rear-seat headroom. Was room abundant? No, but it was plenty for the 40 minute ride.

    I don't get to see the Civic anymore, or my folks for that matter... they moved 700 miles away!
  • flightnurseflightnurse Member Posts: 2,217
    Any car is doable for short trips, but the key statement in your posting was "after the seats were adjusted." to get my Co-workers in the versa I didn't have to adjust any seats for them to sit in the car.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731
    I had some co workers in my versa, both were 6'3+ and had no problems. You could never do that in a civic.

    That's what you originally said, and I said otherwise. I never said or implied that the Civic was bigger inside than the Versa, especially since I have spent VERY limited time inside of a Versa.
  • jacksan1jacksan1 Member Posts: 504
    If the backseat space is the issue, there is no contest here: the Versa wins hands-down. It's pretty much a gymnasium back there. The Civic is not bad - but the Versa is just enormous in the back.

    In Japan, the JDM Tiida has the ability to slide the backseat forwards and backwards. In its rearmost position, it's practically a limousine.
  • flightnurseflightnurse Member Posts: 2,217
    The front seat have more room then any car in its class too, yes I like that feature of sliding the rear seat wish it could be done on the US version.
  • eldainoeldaino Member Posts: 1,618
    just because the versa has more room than the civic, hardly means that a six foot person can't fit in the back. Sorry but to say that is just silly; the civics back seat room is competative to say a mazda 3 and toyota corolla.

    If you want to talk about a sport compact with no backseat room, creat a nissan versa vs. subaru impreza thread.
  • backybacky Member Posts: 18,949
    Can a six footer "fit" in the back seat of a Civic? Sure. Will they be comfortable back there, especially if they are sitting behind a like-sized driver? Probably not. Or at least, there is a much greater chance they would be comfortable in the Versa.

    The Mazda3's back seat is pretty tight also. The Corolla's a little less so, but neither is anywhere near as spacious in back as the Versa. This is one area where the Versa clearly outshines the Civic and every other car in its class.
  • eldainoeldaino Member Posts: 1,618
    well i'm not six foot. And this statement can be applied to a TON of cars. I'm sure that no bmw 3 series owners will be feelin the hurt that the backseat of a versa will be puttin on.
  • jacksan1jacksan1 Member Posts: 504
    This is like comparing an economy class seat of an airliner with a business/first class seat. I'm six foot, incidentally, and do I fit in an economy class seat? Sure. But do I feel more comfortable in a business class seat, the typical one of which that I use has twice the seat pitch of an economy class? Absolutely.
  • backybacky Member Posts: 18,949
    I am sure that is true, but the 3 Series isn't relevant to this discussion, is it?

    Considering the Versa SL with ABS, alloys, premium audio with satellite radio, CD changer and Fosgate subwoofer, Bluetooth, Intelligent Key, power moonroof, audio controls on the (leather) steering wheel, 60/40 split rear seat with center armrest etc. costs less than the modestly equipped Civic LX, and has lots more interior space and cargo capacity than the Civic, the Versa seems quite a value compared to the Civic.
  • flightnurseflightnurse Member Posts: 2,217
    Once again dollar for Dollar the Versa has an edge over he Civic, but for the people who buy the Civic they could care less about bluetooth (since no Honda car Excluding Acura offers it) or Intella-Key(again no honda car excluding Acrua offers it) they are looking for reliablity. But so far I haven't had a problem with that, and since I have 15months left on my lease, I'm looking at the Altma coupe or the new Rouge as a replacement.. There is one thing that Honda has over Nissan, is how you are treated at the dealership... Honda Dealer are very rude, they know they have a good product and if you want the car then you have to be treated badly...
  • backybacky Member Posts: 18,949
    My two nearest Honda dealers have been very professional and courteous when dealing with me.

    Funny how Civic buyers look for reliability, and pay more for it, but if you look at all the complaints about the current Civic here on Town Hall, I question whether they are getting the reliability they paid the premium for. There isn't much difference anymore between Civics and other makes in terms of reliability. CR rates the '06 Civic "Above Average" in reliability. There are compacts that cost much less that have a better reliability score.
  • sandman46sandman46 Member Posts: 1,798
    My Civic has been great and the service department has been right up there. With my Sentra...not so good. The dealership could not fix my problem with 7 attempts and they got really rude about it after the 5th shot. And this was all under the 3/36 warranty. Once the warranty was over and the problem remained, the car was done and so was Nissan.
    So to paint Nissan as a wonderful car company and Honda as being rude, is unfair. My situation was the complete opposite and proves nothing about either car company. I'm sure there are many more examples pro and con for every car make.
    In terms of reliability, my Sentra stunk and my Civic's great. Again, proves nothing about which company is better or worse. Our perception is our own experiences and what we read in these forums and hear from friends and family.
    At this point, the only company's I haven't tried that I would like to are Hyundai, VW & Mitsubishi. Very pleased with Honda so far.

    The Sandman :)
  • flightnurseflightnurse Member Posts: 2,217
    Sandman, I have owned 3 nissan products and never have I had a real problem with service or sales. I do have a major grip with the fiance department, but I'm sure that is in all dealerships.
  • eldainoeldaino Member Posts: 1,618
    unfortunately, judging the reliability of any brand based on your personal experiance doesn't paint the whole picture, even if the car has a great track record. This concept singlehandedly works for and against everything anyone has ever said about the reliabiltiy of their car.

    My vw rabbit may never have a problem but that wont change anyones opinions. And the civic gets flak for having a section where people talk about their problems with it, but everyone seems to forget there is a section for every single car here in regards to each personal owners problems with it.
  • eldainoeldaino Member Posts: 1,618
    the 3 series is famous for its lack of back seat; if you want i'll refer back to the subaru impreza, which is in the same class (although often overlooked) as the civic; its back seat space is terrible. I posted this just to balance out the air of 'every back seat is bigger than the civic's'attitude.

    and before anyone jumps, no that actual phrase wasn't used, that is just the vibe that is being put out there.

    I've had plenty of six footers and they were pretty happy in the backseat. They liked the civics FLAT floor as well.
  • backybacky Member Posts: 18,949
    Yes, there is a problems section for every car in Town Hall, but there isn't a multi-thousand-dollar price premium (for reliability) for all of those other cars as there is with the Civic. The price is higher, due to the reputation for reliability, so it is fair that expectations should be higher.

    I thought you've already had multiple problems with your Rabbit, as you've reported in Town Hall?
  • jd10013jd10013 Member Posts: 779
    there is probably no point in trying to make reliability comparisons. toyota, honda, and nissan all make high quality cars that will last forever. most of the time it will come down to how they are taken care of. purchase any car by any of those three manufactures, take car of it and do all the required maintanence when your supposed to, and they will last forever. reliability isn't realy an issue unless you bring ford and GM into the discussion.

    And comparing dealerships is about the same. they're independantly owned. the actual owner and staff will determine how your experience goes. Has nothing to do with what kind of car they sell.
  • eldainoeldaino Member Posts: 1,618
    i have not had any with the rabbit. But then again the things that have happened i can hardly call 'problems.'

    1. the 'armed' light that flashes by the window is sometimes (a total of 2 times in the last 6 months) on after getting in the car. Arming and then disaring fixes this.

    2. a windshield wiper adjustment for free.

    hardly problems.
  • eldainoeldaino Member Posts: 1,618
    And comparing dealerships is about the same. they're independantly owned. the actual owner and staff will determine how your experience goes. Has nothing to do with what kind of car they sell.

    why did it take so long for someone to say this?
  • backybacky Member Posts: 18,949
    My mistake then. Typically if it's not a problem, it doesn't need "fixing" or "adjusting", but that's just how I look at the world. I am glad your Rabbit has been trouble-free.
  • eldainoeldaino Member Posts: 1,618
    thanks backster. ;)
  • sandiego999sandiego999 Member Posts: 2
    Before buying my Versa SL in December 2006, we test drove a Civic. As fate would have it, it was drizzling rain when we went for a test drive -- which required the use of the windshield wipers. On the Civic, each wiper travels in a different direction rather than in parallel, which is conventional. For me and my wife, we found this to be so distracting and irritating that it was a deal-breaker for the Civic. Well, that and the extra $2k over sticker that the dealer wanted for it.

    If you have a propensity to get motion sickness, I'd suggest that you try out the wipers before buying a new Civic.
  • eldainoeldaino Member Posts: 1,618
    man that sucks. i always thought they looked cool.
  • hondalemon2hondalemon2 Member Posts: 1
    I own a Honda Civic 2002 and swear I will never buy any Honda car again as long as I live. From year one, it has one constant problem after another. Thank god I bought the extended warranty. It must have paid back 10X by now. Every few months it has a major repair. Every time I go on a long trip, I come back and drive straight to the dealer the next day for repair. The dealers, of course, always tried to tell me that the repair is not covered by the warranty until I show them a copy of the warranty (which you can now download from the internet any time). I used to feel safer driving my 10 year old Toyota Corolla on long distance! I also discovered Honda Canada's policy on recall " Never perform a voluntary recall if Transport Canada regulations do not require it!" And if you talk to Transport Canada you will find that unless your car virtually explodes in your face, no automaker is required to perform a recall. As far as Honda Canada is concerned, if you can pull to the side of the road and wait for help, there is no need for recall. I cannot speak for all, but I sure as hell do not care to sit in the car at -30C with two young kids in the car on a highway waiting for help. And who likes to drive a car with unrepaired defects known by the manufacturer? Can't wait till I can afford to buy another reliable car again.
  • samncsamnc Member Posts: 44
    I owned a new 2000 Honda Civic in year 2000 and after drove for about 65,000kms in 2 years, I traded it with a Toyota Sienna in year 2002 for long distance travels (from Toronto to San Francisco). The Civic seats started to sag after about one year and 2 hours drive in a Civic was suffering the family (4 of us) with all pains and an 8 hours drive (from Toronto to New York City) needed at least 4 long rests and stretches. Nothing wrong with the Civic engine and transmission in that 2 years' ownership though. I miss the Civic's good response and good accelerations (better than Camry I4s) when compared with Versa (horrible accerlerations in the 20 to 50 mph range) but I guess I will never get back to Civic for seat sagging. Hope Versa seats will last 5 years.
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