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- Propulsion: Gas 1.8L I4
- Mileage: 30 MPG (27 city, 35 hwy)
- Transmission: 6-speed Manual
- Passenger Volume: 95.9cu ft
- Length: 182.1in
- Wheelbase: 106.3in
- Height: 58.9in
- Weight: 2848lbs
- Cargo Volume: 15.1cu ft
- Front Leg Room: 42.5in
- Front Head Room: 39.4in
- Front Hip Room: 50.9in
- Rear Leg Room: 37.4in
- Rear Head Room: 36.7in
- Rear Hip Room: 50.1in
- Drag Coefficient: 60/40
- Drag Coefficient: 0.29
The Nissan Sentra offers compact sedan buyers a well-trimmed interior, generous rear seat and trunk space, and excellent fuel efficiency. A slightly anemic engine and mellow chassis tuning mean that the Sentra is hardly the quickest or most exciting of its competitive set, but for those simply seeking comfortable and economical transportation, it fits the bill quite nicely.
Stylistically, the Sentra closely resembles its bigger brother, the midsize Altima sedan; both are distinguished by Nissan's trapezoidal grille and feature comparable headlight and side window treatments.
The similarities continue inside, where the simple, pleasing design of the Sentra's cabin are rendered in upscale materials seemingly pulled from the Altima. The Sentra also takes after the Altima in size, being one of the larger sedans in its segment in terms of legroom and trunk space, with the latter measuring a midsize-like 15.3 cubic inches.
Notable luxury extras available for the Sentra include a Bose audio system, heated front seats and a rearview camera. There's also an optional navigation system - updated for the latest model year with improved voice recognition - with a 5.8-inch display screen, point-of-interest search powered by Google and available NavTraffic and NavWeather functions. It's bundled with NissanConnect, a connectivity system that includes Bluetooth with streaming audio, Pandora radio capability, and a Hands-Free Text Messaging Assistant setup that reads incoming text messages and allows drivers to reply without taking their hands off of the steering wheel.
When paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) - standard on all but the base model - the Sentra is capable of impressive mileage: 30 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Economy-focused FE models add aerodynamic underbody panels, low rolling-resistance tires and a rear spoiler to increase highway efficiency to the magic 40-mpg mark.
The price to pay for the Sentra's fuel-thrifty ways is less power and acceleration than many competitors, with the standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder producing just 130 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque. The entry-level six-speed manual helps hasten passing maneuvers but increases consumption to 27/36 mpg.
Competent and predicable on the road, the Sentra is nonetheless not the most engaging compact sedan around; more fun can be had in rivals like the Ford Focus or Mazda Mazda3.
Standard and optional features
Nissan offers the Sentra in six trim levels called S, SV, SR, SL, SR Turbo, and Nismo, respectively.
The S 6MT comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, power windows and locks, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with AUX and USB inputs, Bluetooth, a trip computer, automatic headlights, cruise control, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and 16-inch steel wheels.
Depending on the trim selected, the list of options includes a number of electronic driving aids, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, heated seats, and an eight-speaker Bose sound system.
Buyers can also choose from several option packages that add more tech or give the Sentra a sportier look.
The fastest Sentra money can buy is the range-topping Nismo model. Like other Nismo-badged Nissan models, it gets red accents on the front lip, rear diffuser and rocker panels. It also benefits from a stiffer body structure and unique suspension tuning.
The Nismo uses a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission come standard, and a CVT is offered at an extra cost.
All Sentra models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side-curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, emergency braking and other automated safety features are available as options on various trim levels.
The Sentra's closets rivals are similarly safe, reliable and efficient machines like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. The Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte bring heightened style to the table, while the Mazda Mazda3 combines upmarket interior appointments with grin-worthy handling.