The Nissan Sentra has been vying for the wallets of economy-car shoppers since 1982. For most of that time, the Sentra's overall appeal and image have trailed the segment leaders. There have been periods, however, when this car has been one of the best choices available.
The latest Nissan Sentra is closer to the historic norm. It offers a roomy and high-quality interior and great fuel economy. On the other hand, it lacks the visual pizzazz and driver involvement of its competitors. Overall, this Sentra is a respectable ride, though it doesn't really stand out from the crowd. Much the same can be said of previous Sentra generations, but their good fuel efficiency and low upkeep costs make them solid budget-friendly options.
Current Nissan Sentra
The current Nissan Sentra comes standard with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated at 130 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is excellent and gets a hair better with the special FE+ model. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the base model, but a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is specified on all other models.
There are four Sentra trim levels: S, SV, SR and SL. The base model S has air-conditioning, full power accessories and an auxiliary audio jack. The SV doesn't add much in the way of standard equipment, but rather increases the availability of options such as keyless ignition/entry, Bluetooth and a USB/iPod interface. The SR is essentially an SV with sporty design elements, while the SL comes standard with the SL's options, plus dual-zone automatic climate control. Other major options for the Sentra (depending on the trim level) include a sunroof, a premium audio system, a navigation system, smartphone app integration and leather upholstery.
In reviews, the Nissan Sentra has earned high marks for its interior. Nissan has taken a refined and conservative approach here, in contrast to many of its rivals with their youthful, funky vibes. Fit and finish is satisfactory thanks to decent materials and seemingly tight construction. The backseat deserves special mention for nearly matching midsize sedans in spaciousness. A comfortable ride quality is another plus. On the downside, however, the Sentra's acceleration is subpar, and in general it's not very involving to drive.
In total, the Sentra's pluses and minuses speak to the car itself. It's a more grown-up sort of small car that eschews look-at-me styling and zippy wannabe sports car dynamics for a sensible, comfortable and economical formula. It's not necessarily the stuff that dreams are made of, but we suspect it will appeal to many shoppers.
Read the most recent 2014 Nissan Sentra review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Nissan Sentra page.