The reason for the better mileage? Sentra is “lighter even though larger” overall by about 100 pounds and utilizes the CVT transmission for optimum fuel economy. Add the fact Sentra is now better looking and the end result is a solid competitor in the mid-size car class.
Sentra’s exterior features a nice grill layout and headlamps that replace the former stumpy headlamp pattern. The aforesaid 1.8-liter engine delivers just 130-horses and 128 lb. ft. of torque, but since the new Sentra is lighter than before it feels peppy enough and offers good throttle response.
The CVT is standard on the SR and features three drive modes to suit your driving mood. Be it Eco, Sport or Normal, you’ll decide which is best for your driving personality. Nissan recommends “normal” for an efficient blend of economy and performance. If you like to shift gears, a six speed manual comes only with the entry S model, which starts at just $16,640.
Our SR tester starts at $19,910 and offers an upgraded and sportier design thanks to 17-inch tires, four-wheel disc brakes, nice five-spoke alloy wheels and a rear spoiler. The top line Sentra SR starts at $20,670 and your dealer is waiting to gladly explain all models.
On the safety side every Sentra receives high-tech features including dual stage airbags with roof mounted curtains, ABS anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce, traction control, vehicle dynamics and a vehicle security system.
As for the interior, standard fare includes air conditioning, backup safety camera, all the powers, cloth seats, a six-speaker stereo CD with iPod interface, cruise, steering wheel controls, 60/40 split rear seat, five-inch color display, rear seat armrest with cup holders, remote fuel door and trunk release and more. The gauges and all necessary buttons and switches are in easy access, and seating is comfortable.
Our Sentra featured a Premium Package for an additional $2,230 that adds leather seating, power moonroof, Homelink, power rearview mirror, Bose Premium eight-speaker stereo, and dual illuminated vanity mirrors.
A Navigation package adds another $720, where you’ll appreciate Nissan Connect, 5.8-inch color display, SiriusXM traffic and travel link, and voice recognition for both audio and navigation. Carpeted floor mats brought the final tally to $23,865 with $825 destination included.
Overall, “Test Drive” likes the 2015 Sentra, although the CVT is a transmission that performs more like a go-kart than a modern day, multi-gear automatic. When you floor the throttle, the engine zooms up to 6,000 RPM and waits for the car to “catch-up” in speed. It still takes some getting used to, but no one can disagree with it fuel mileage properties.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 106.3 inches, 2,908 pound curb weight, 13.2 gallon fuel tank, 29 city/39 highway EPA, and 15.1 cu. ft. cargo space.
We still like Sentra in the mid-size class, but the vehicle needs more mechanical updating, with emphasis on transmission and a quieter, more powerful engine. Nissan has always been a leader in exterior design, so it needs to re-focus its mechanical technology prowess to better compete in the years ahead.
Entry Price: $16,480
Price as Tested: $23,865
Rear seat room
Only 130 horses
Loud under full throttle.