3 Reasons Why Nissans are so Cheap (Unreliable?)

Nissans are some of the cheapest cars on sale today, even more affordable than some used cars. In 2020, the Cheapest Nissan was the Versa, starting at $14,730.

But when a new car cost so little, you do start to wonder why. What makes these cars so cheap and are they better than higher-priced cars. Let’s find out.

Why are Nissans so Cheap?

Primarily, Nissans are so cheap because they are mass-produced cars. Millions of people buy Nissan vehicles, so this helps keep the purchase price low. Parts and materials are also shared across various models, which keeps manufacturing costs low.

Nissans being cheap cars doesn’t mean they aren’t good. They do offer good value for their price points, and here are a few reasons why:

1. Mass Production:

Producing things at a large scale helps sell more units and increase profit margins. Nissan sold over 1.2 million cars in 2019. Selling in such large numbers makes the company more money and enables them to sell the cars at an affordable price.

2. Cheaper, durable materials

The cost of materials also impacts the prices of vehicles. Nissan makes use of readily available and durable materials to build their vehicles.

The body is mostly made of steel, which is a strong, durable metal but is cheaper than the lighter aluminum body. Interior trims are either made of cloth or plastic. No leather or fancy materials here that increase the cost.

Since they sell to the masses, using durable materials makes sure they can last longer, too.

3. Shared Parts

This is by far the biggest money-saving technique. Parts are shared amongst various models to eliminate additional costs.

For example, the 4 and 6-cylinder engines are used in many of their cars, trucks, and SUVs. Using the same parts in different cars means they do not need to make all new engines for other vehicles.

All the money saved using these techniques helps make the entire cost of a Nissan low.

Also read: 6 Nissans with a Panoramic Sunroof (+Photos)

Are Nissans Built Cheaply?

Yes, Nissans are built a bit cheaper than their direct competitors. Saving money on materials does come at a small price. The end product however is a good car.

Building cars for the masses and at an affordable rate does require you to make use of cheaper materials. Making use of readily available raw materials does mean spare parts are available if anything goes wrong.

The consumer is also considered in this case, as they need to easily replace broken parts without breaking the bank. An example is the cost of headlights, which are around $200 plus labor. Compare that to Mercedes headlights that cost between $400 and $2000.

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Fun fact: Nissan ranks 5th overall in the 2021 JD Power initial quality study, only beaten by Ram, Dodge, Lexus, and Mitsubishi. This is a huge upgrade as they ranked 13th the previous year.

How Cheap are Nissans Compared to Competitive Car Brands?

Nissans are reasonably priced, ranging at about $1000-$2000 above or below the competition. They aren’t the cheapest cars on sale today but do offer great value for money.

Here’s a little chart to help give you an idea: MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price).


Are Nissans Reliable Despite Being Cheap?

Reliability is one of the strong points for Nissan as a company and this, in turn, makes their cars very reliable. Their vehicles are driven by millions of people and so have to be reliable to encourage further sales.  

Nissan is a step behind compared to Toyota, whose brand is based on utmost reliability and durability. Even Honda has an edge over them. This makes Nissan more of a 3rd or 4th choice when it comes to reliable vehicles to buy still scoring a respectable 4/5 rating. 

The transmissions are what you want to watch out for when buying these cars. CVT’s (Continuous Variable Transmission) are generally disliked, but Nissan seems to be the worst in this department. But they have gotten better. 

They recently received a 2021 JD Power dependability award. This is awarded to the brand that had the fewest car problems reported by 100 car owners during 12 months of owning a 3-year-old vehicle. 80,000 participants were part of this test.   

Also read: Is it Worth Buying a Nissan with over 100K Miles?

Will Nissans Last Long?

They will last as long as you maintain and service them properly. It is not uncommon to see these cars go over 100,000 miles. Older models have surpassed the 300,000-mile mark. 

Nissan’s trucks and SUVs have been known to go the distance if properly taken care of. Here’s a 2007 Nissan Frontier with over 1,000,000 miles on it. 

But an odd one is Nissan’s sports car, the Nissan GTR. The 2009 Nissan GTR is with the original owner and has done over 140,000 miles. This is unheard of with a car of this class, but that speaks to Nissan’s dependability and reliability. 

Does Nissan Save Money on Safety?

No, despite being built cheaply, no expense is saved on safety features and equipment. The Altima and Rogue have top safety ratings from the IIHS and NHTSA. All newer models have also been built with the latest safety features installed.

Safety ratings are important for a company like Nissan. They have millions of cars on the road, and if they are deemed unsafe then no one would buy them.  

So almost no expense has been spared in the safety department to make these cars worthy for road use. 

What are the Most and Least Affordable Nissan Models?

The cheapest new Nissan on sale is the Nissan Versa, which starts at just under $15,000. Nissan’s most expensive production car is the Nissan GT-R Nismo which costs over $200,000. 

The competition easily has cars starting over $16,000 which means Nissan undercuts them by nearly $2,000. Nissan also offers better interior tech than most of its direct competitors. Exterior styling is also among the best in its class.

Even amongst the expensive sports car/supercar class, the Nissan GTR sits at, it offers immense value. When it debuted back in 2009, it beat everything in its class and even above. Today, used models are a bargain with top-notch performance.   

Also read: How Long Should a Clutch Last on Nissan Qashqai? (Solved)

Are Used Nissans Worth it?

Nissans are worth the price as brand-new cars but are even better as used cars. On average, a used Nissan depreciates by 59% after the first 5 years. This means a $26,000 vehicle would be worth $10,000+ after 5 years. 

With the increase in safety and technology, this makes a used Nissan very tempting. Comfort, style, great fuel economy, and modern technology for less than half its original MSRP.   

Is Nissan Maintenance Cheap too?

Yes, maintenance is cheap. According to Repairpal, the average annual Nissan maintenance cost is $500. The industry average is $652 which puts Nissan in a great spot. 

Regular maintenance with Nissans are fairly inexpensive as parts are readily available and used across different models. Most parts can also easily be found at your local auto parts store.  

All new Nissans also come with a 3 year/36,000-mile warranty and a 5-year limited powertrain warranty. This should cover all maintenance-related issues. 

An extended 8 year/120,000-mile warranty is also available. If you’re lucky you could end up purchasing a car with this added benefit. Or you could just get it for yourself from the beginning if you plan to own the car for a long time. 

What are the Nissan Disadvantages? 

The CVT transmissions always seem to come up more than any other issue. These seem to be the only failing part of Nissan vehicles, mostly in their passenger cars. Some used cars have lasted for about 50,000 – 75,000 miles on a transmission. 

Some common issues are the aforementioned transmission, oil leaks, and rust. Rust may affect older cars, but the others do tend to affect some new cars.  

Is Nissan Worth it, or are There Some Better Alternatives?

Nissans are worth it in the safety department, ride quality, technology, and styling. They are on par and in some cases outclass the competition in these areas. 

Reliability is where they lag a bit and where competitors like Toyota, Lexus, Honda, and Acura step in. These competitors do offer similar qualities and more reliability than Nissan.

I’m personally into sports cars and would instantly pick a Nissan 350Z with its reliable VQ engine. For a family car, I would go with the V8-powered Infiniti FX45 from Nissan’s luxury brand.