The Nissan Versa is a spacious and reliable sedan with impressive efficiency and an affordable price tag.
The Versa is the smallest and least expensive model in Nissan’s lineup and all trims are powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine.
But can this subcompact car handle its own in snowy driving conditions?
Find out in this article…
Here is the short answer to whether the Nissan Versa is good for snow and winter driving:
The Nissan Versa can perform well in snow when coupled with winter tires. As a FWD car the engine weight sits over the driven wheels which provides good grip. Combined with safety features such as ABS, Traction Control and Vehicle Dynamic Control, the Versa is more than capable of handling snowy roads.
Is the Nissan Versa Good in the Snow?
The Nissan Versa can be a very reliable daily driver in the winter as long as it’s fitted with the right tires and you know the car’s limits.
Its light weight helps it move along slippery surfaces since it doesn’t require much grip or power to get it going.
This also makes the Versa easier to slow down and bring to a complete stop.
Front-wheel drive cars like the Versa are easier to drive in the snow because the weight of the engine pushes down on the tires and gives them more grip.
FWD cars are also less likely to slide out of control or fishtail compared to RWD cars on really slippery roads.
The Versa also has pretty good ground clearance at 6.8 inches, which is a lot higher than other cars in its class.
Most sedans only have around 5 to 6 inches of ground clearance which limits their ability to drive through deep snow and unplowed roads.
Modern Nissan Versas also come with modern safety features as standard such as stability control and ABS — making them safer and easier to drive even when the roads become unpredictable.
Its low center of gravity means its less likely to roll-over as it ‘hugs’ the road, unlike taller vehicles such as trucks and SUVs.
All it really needs is a good set of snow tires to make it a decent winter vehicle.
However, the absence of four-wheel drive and its low engine power means it won’t be able to easily handle rough terrain and extreme snow.
You’ll also want to avoid situations where you might get stuck because it will be more difficult to get yourself out.
What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?
Although the Nissan Versa is one of the cheapest new cars you can buy today, it’s still equipped with many of the essential features you’ll need for winter.
In this section, we’ll take a closer look at all the winter features the Versa has to offer.
Vehicle Dynamic Control
Vehicle Dynamic Control is the name of the stability control system found on all new Nissan’s vehicles.
In slick winter driving conditions this system helps to keep the vehicle balanced and heading in the right direction.
The VDC uses sensors which are strategically placed to monitor driver input and vehicle motion.
Under certain driving conditions, the system will control engine output and braking to help ensure the vehicle heads in the intended direction of travel.
VDC aims to enhance driving stability however it does not prevent accidents due to abrupt steering operation at high speeds or by careless or dangerous driving techniques.
Anti-Lock Braking System
During hard braking or on slippery surfaces, a driver may apply a braking force that is greater than the tires capacity to grip.
If this happens the wheels can ‘lock up’, causing the vehicle to skid out of control.
By preventing this lock-up the vehicle stops sooner and remains under the drivers control.
The anti-lock brakes on the Versa provides this assistance – they are specifically designed to stop wheels from locking up.
Electronic Brake Force Distribution
The Versa also comes equipped with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) which helps:
- Slow down the car faster
- Significantly reduce braking distances
- Reduces the risk of spinning and fishtailing
The EBD system uses the vehicle’s stability control and ABS to calculate the needed brake force distribution to all four wheels in a moment of braking.
This ensures maximum braking performance at all times and in different types of situations.
Traction Control (TC)
The Versa’s Traction Control system keeps the car stable on slippery roads by keeping wheelspin in check.
When its computers detect that the wheels are slipping, it will automatically apply the brakes and limit engine power.
If the car is stationary it helps keep the vehicle moving forward, if the vehicle is in motion it can help prevent loss of control or dangerous skidding.
If stuck in snow or ice the traction control can be disabled at the press of a button this allows the cars wheels to spin and may help dislodge the vehicle.
The Versa comes with a Brake Assist system that automatically adds more brake pressure when it detects that you’re slamming on the brakes.
It keeps track of how fast or rapidly you’re stepping on the brake pedal to identify emergency braking situations.
By adding more brake pressure, it ensures that the vehicle will always come to a complete stop even if you let go of the pedal too early or don’t step on it hard enough.
Heated Mirrors and Seats
Higher trim levels of the Nissan Versa come with heated mirrors which significantly improves visibility when the temperature drops by keeping your side mirrors from frosting up.
You can also add heated front seats to the highest trim SR model if you want to make the interior more comfortable during really bad winters.
The Versa SR also comes standard with fog lights which helps improve visibility during snow storms.
Remote comes standard in the top-of-the-line SR trim of the Nissan Versa.
It lets you start up the engine and turn on the heater to let the cabin warm up before getting into the vehicle.
This is a great feature to have if your winter season lasts several months and drops to really low temperatures.
It not only makes the inside of the car cozier, it can also help you unfreeze your doors and not have to stay outside in the cold trying to knock it loose.
High Beam Assist
The Nissan Versa’s high beam assist lights up the road, whilst being considerate to passing drivers.
The high beams automatically switch to low-beam headlights when a vehicle is detected ahead and turns the high beams back on when the coast is clear.
Driver Assistance Technologies
The Nissan Versa doesn’t skimp on modern driver safety aids even at its low price point.
All trim levels of the new Versa come with lots of driver assistance tech such as:
- Intelligent Forward Collision Warning
- Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection
- Lane Departure Warning
- High Beam Assist
- Rear Automatic Braking
- Hill start assist
With the higher trim levels, you even get more tech which includes:
- Blind Spot Warning
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Intelligent Cruise Control
- Intelligent Driver Alertness
All these extra safety features add an extra layer of safety when your driving in inclement conditions.
Does the Nissan Versa Have a Snow Mode?
The Nissan Versa doesn’t have a dedicated Snow Mode like you would find in more expensive SUVs and crossovers.
Snow Mode can help reduce wheelspin by starting off the transmission in higher gear and adjusting the power and torque being sent to the wheels.
Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on the Nissan Versa?
If you’re driving in extreme winter conditions, you can equip your Versa with all sorts of snow gear designed for passenger cars.
To improve the grip and handling, you can put on special tires and accessories such as:
- Snow chains
- Snow socks
- Winter tires
- Studded tires
You can also easily fit a tow hook on the Versa in case you get yourself stuck and you have to be towed out.
Before installing any additional snow gear ensure you are legally allowed to do so, some states will strictly prohibit the use of certain accessories.
When purchasing snow gear it is essential you take measurements so that you order the correct size accessory for your vehicle, do not try to guess by visual assessment.
If you are unsure consult with a trained professional.
Other useful items to keep in your Versa during the winter include:
- Ice scraper
- Jumper cables
- Packable shovel
- Warm blanket
- Good spare tire
- Roadside safety kit
How Much Snow Can a Nissan Versa Handle?
The Nissan Versa’s high ground clearance at 6.8 inches helps it deal with moderately deep snow and unplowed roads quite easily.
But you shouldn’t try to drive in places with over 6 inches of snow because it can still easily get stuck and high centered in sections with really deep snow that exceeds its ride height.
It’s still a FWD vehicle so if the front wheels don’t have any grip, you’ll have a much harder time getting yourself out.
How Does the Nissan Versa Handle Low Winter Temperatures?
The Nissan Versa will have no trouble dealing with really cold weather because it has a modern fuel injected engine.
Its ECU will automatically adjust its settings so it can run optimally in different climates.
In really cold areas, you still need to make sure that the battery is in good condition if you want to avoid hard starting issues in the cold.
If you live somewhere that regularly sees several months of winter with really cold temperatures, here are some things you can do to your Versa to make sure it runs flawlessly:
- Switch to cold weather engine oil
- Put on a set of snow tires
- Install a block heater
- Use a battery warmer
- Hook it up to a battery tender when it’s garaged
All these will better prepare your Nissan Versa for really harsh winter driving.
Can a Nissan Versa Drive on Ice?
The Versa is capable of driving on ice however it should be done so with extreme caution, speeds should be lowered and corners should be taken with much greater care and you should ask yourself if your journey is really necessary.
The Nissan Versa has a lot of electronic systems that will keep you from sliding all over the place when you hit a patch of ice.
It’s also quite light so it doesn’t need too much horsepower to get it moving and will come to a stop quicker.
What About Older Nissan Versa Models And Winter Driving?
The first generation Nissan Versa was introduced in 2006 so the earlier models don’t really have much in the way of modern safety tech.
In a lot of first generation models, ABS didn’t even come standard.
So if you’re looking at an older model, make sure it at least has the basics such as VDC and ABS if you want to be safer in the winter.
Do Nissan Versas Need Snow Tires?
Equipping snow tires to your Nissan Versa is the best possible way to bolster winter performance and we would highly advise investing in a good set for when the temperatures drop.
Snow tires are proven to significantly improve handling and stopping distances in winter driving conditions.
- The compound is made to grip the road better in lower temperatures as it remains soft and flexible in cold weather.
- The tread pattern is designed to push the snow out from underneath the tire.
Can You Mount A Snow Plow on a Nissan Versa?
The Nissan Versa is not the most ideal vehicle for plowing snow and we would strongly advise against it.
It’s lightness and lower engine power means it will have difficulty pushing through really deep snow banks.
It also doesn’t have four wheel drive so it won’t have much traction in the slippery stuff.
You’re also bound to ruin your bodywork and chassis if you try to mount a snow plow on your Versa because most snow plows are meant to be attached directly to a reinforced frame.