Brief History of the Nissan Sentra
The first generation Nissan Sentra was introduced in the United States in May 1982 as a direct replacement for the Datsun 210 (Nissan Sentra – Wikipedia). It was originally subcompact in classification and offered sedan and wagon body styles. The Sentra quickly became popular with over 3 million units sold from 1982 to 1986.
The second generation Sentra debuted in 1986 with more angular styling and a front-wheel drive layout. It grew in size and was now classified as a compact car (Nissan Sentra Generations – Autolist). There were several variants including the sporty SE-R model. Over 2 million second generation Sentras were sold until 1990.
In 1991, the third generation Sentra was introduced on an all-new platform. It had rounded styling with curved headlights and taillights. There was a range of engines and trim levels offered including a new sporty SE-R model. This generation saw over 1.4 million units sold.
The fourth generation debuted in 1995 on the same platform but with updated styling and features. It included the powerful Sentra SE-R which had a 2.0L engine making 140 horsepower. Over 1.6 million fourth gen Sentras were sold in North America up until 1999.
Overview of Current Generation
The current generation of the Nissan Sentra debuted in 2020 as a 2021 model year vehicle. It is the eighth generation Sentra and represents a complete redesign over the previous generation. Some key highlights of the current Sentra generation include:
- S – The base trim starting at $19,310 (source: Nissan)
- SV – Adds more features like a 6-way adjustable driver’s seat starting at $20,350 (source: South Lake Nissan)
- SR – A sportier variant with unique styling cues starting at $21,160 (source: D&W Nissan)
- Platinum – The top trim level focused on luxury starting at $24,600 (source: Nissan)
Main features across trims:
- 2.0L 4-cylinder engine with 149 horsepower (except SR which has a 186 hp turbocharged 1.6L engine)
- Continuously Variable Transmission
- 5″ touchscreen infotainment system
- Smartphone integration like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Advanced driver assistance systems like automatic emergency braking
Engines and Performance
The Nissan Sentra offers just one engine option across all trim levels: a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 149 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque. This engine utilizes direct injection and variable valve timing to optimize power and efficiency.
This 2.0-liter engine achieves excellent fuel economy ratings for the segment, earning EPA estimates of 29 mpg city, 39 mpg highway, and 33 mpg combined with the CVT transmission. With a manual transmission, ratings drop slightly to 27/36/30 mpg.
When properly equipped, the Sentra can accelerate from 0-60 mph in around 8 seconds – adequate but not overly quick. Some reviewers note the engine can feel strained during hard acceleration.
While not the sportiest, the 4-cylinder delivers solid everyday performance and excellent fuel economy for budget-focused buyers.
Interior and Exterior
The 2023 Nissan Sentra offers a spacious and comfortable interior with an array of technology features. According to Nissan, the Sentra has 99.5 cubic feet of passenger volume, making it one of the roomiest compact sedans on the market (Nissan). The front seats have been redesigned to provide additional headroom and comfort. Standard features include an 8-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth, two USB ports, and a 4-speaker audio system.
Higher trims add amenities like leatherette seats, a 6-speaker Bose audio system, ambient lighting, and extra USB ports for rear passengers. The Sentra provides an ample 14.3 cubic feet of trunk space, which can accommodate multiple suitcases or a week’s worth of groceries with ease (U.S. News). 60/40 split folding rear seats further expand cargo capabilities when needed.
On the outside, the Sentra measures 182.7 inches long and 70.5 inches wide, making it one of the larger options in the compact segment (Nissan). The latest model sports Nissan’s signature V-Motion grille, LED headlights and taillights, and an athletic stance. Buyers can choose from vibrant two-tone color combinations like Scarlet Ember with a black roof. Alloy wheels, dual exhaust tips, and a rear spoiler add sporty flair. Overall, the Sentra delivers an upscale look and feel that punches above its price point.
Safety and Driver Assists
The 2023 Nissan Sentra comes standard with a good array of safety features including automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and automatic high beams. According to the IIHS, the Sentra received a rating of “Good” in all crashworthiness tests including small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side and roof strength tests (IIHS). The NHTSA gave the Sentra an overall safety rating of 5 out of 5 stars.
Available advanced safety features include rear automatic braking, pedestrian detection for the automatic emergency braking system, and a surround view camera system. Nissan’s ProPilot Assist system, which combines adaptive cruise control and lane centering, is available on higher trim levels. This system can help reduce driver fatigue on long trips by assisting with steering, braking and acceleration in single-lane driving scenarios.
Overall, the latest Sentra offers excellent safety credentials for the class thanks to its long list of standard advanced driver assists. Buyers who want the latest high-tech aids can opt for the ProPilot Assist system and surround view camera to take the Sentra’s safety to an even higher level.
Pricing and Value
The 2024 Nissan Sentra starts at an MSRP of $20,890 for the base S trim with a manual transmission. Stepping up to the automatic CVT transmission adds $1,600. The mid-level SV trim starts at $22,590, while the top SR trim has an MSRP of $24,490 (all prices include destination charge).
Compared to other compact sedans, the Sentra is competitively priced. The 2024 Toyota Corolla has a starting MSRP of $21,550, just $660 more than the base Sentra. The 2024 Honda Civic sedan starts at $22,695, about $1,800 more than the base Sentra. Overall, the Sentra provides strong value in the compact sedan segment, delivering lots of features and technology at an affordable price point.
Reliability and Ownership
The Nissan Sentra has a reputation for being a reliable compact sedan. According to RepairPal, the Sentra has a reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0, which ranks it 14th out of 36 compact cars . The average annual repair cost for a Sentra is $491, which is lower than other vehicles in its class.
In an owner satisfaction survey conducted by J.D. Power, the Sentra scored 78/100, which is considered above average . Owners report few problems with the drivetrain, engine, transmission, and in-car electronics. The most common issues reported are minor interior fit and finish problems.
Older model years from 2000-2006 are considered the most reliable by many Sentra owners. These 5th generation models have proven very durable even with high mileage. More recent models from 2013 onward also have strong reliability ratings, though full long-term data is still emerging.
Overall, the Sentra is known for low ownership costs, longevity, and hassle-free maintenance – especially when proper care is taken. For budget-focused buyers seeking affordability and dependability, the Sentra remains a top choice in the compact sedan class.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The Nissan Sentra has several strengths that make it stand out compared to other compact sedans:
- Attractive exterior styling with sporty cues like a lowered roofline and sharp character lines (according to Car and Driver)
- Spacious and comfortable interior with soft-touch materials exceeding expectations for the class (according to Motor Trend)
- Generous list of standard technology and safety features including Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, blind spot monitoring, and more (according to Edmunds)
- Excellent fuel economy with up to 33 mpg combined from base engine (according to Car and Driver)
However, the Sentra does have some weaknesses to consider:
- Underpowered base engine lacks refinement and struggles during passing maneuvers (according to Motor Trend)
- Ride quality errs on the firmer side, with some impact harshness (according to Edmunds)
- CVT transmission can lead to droning noise under hard acceleration (according to Car and Driver)
- Rear seat space trails some competitors like the Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra (according to Motor Trend)
Similar Vehicle Options
The Nissan Sentra competes in the popular compact sedan segment against some well-established models like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Mazda MAZDA3. The Sentra offers a balance of affordability, fuel efficiency, and utility that makes it a strong option against rivals.
The Honda Civic is one of the Sentra’s closest competitors, offering similar dimensions, performance, fuel economy, and pricing. The Civic trumps the Sentra slightly when it comes to interior space, handling, standard features, and resale value according to reviewers. But the Sentra remains competitive with excellent value.
The venerable Toyota Corolla is another stalwart in the segment, providing refined driving dynamics, stellar reliability ratings, and a spacious cabin. The Corolla edges out the Sentra in predicted reliability according to Consumer Reports and offers compelling hybrid options. But the Sentra fights back with a lower starting price and more expressive styling.
The Mazda MAZDA3 impresses driving enthusiasts with its nimble handling and upscale interior at an affordable price point. Mazda’s signature driving dynamics give it an edge over the Sentra, but Nissan counters with higher fuel economy estimates and more available active safety features.
The Future of the Sentra
The 2024 Sentra debuts a significant redesign for the model. According to Nissan, the 2024 Sentra will have refreshed exterior styling with an updated front fascia, new LED headlights and taillights, revised grille and bumpers, and new wheel designs. The interior will also see updates, with more premium materials and new technology features.
Nissan states the 2024 Sentra will come equipped with advanced driver assistance features including standard automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, and high beam assist. These additions help bring the Sentra up to date with other vehicles in its segment for safety and technology.
While complete details are still emerging, it appears the 2024 redesign will keep the Sentra fresh and competitive. Nissan hopes the updates will attract new buyers to this efficient, stylish, and now even safer small sedan.