2017 Sentra New Car Test Drive
Performance gets the nod for Nissan's compact sedan in the 2017 model year. A new SR Turbo edition borrows its powertrain from the Juke crossover SUV. A new Midnight Edition package has been added, too, with black wheels and spoiler. Window glass is now thicker, in the interest of quiet running, and the center console gains storage capacity.
Introduced 35 years ago, the Sentra is in its seventh generation, last redesigned for 2013 and freshened for 2016 with a V-shaped grille in a new front end. All told, Nissan's compact sedan blends into the crowd, but its appeal is enhanced by abundant passenger space.
Four basic trim levels are offered: S, SV, SR, and SL, plus the new SR Turbo. Regular Sentras hold a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 124 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque (130 hp and 128 pound-feet with manual shift). The 6-speed manual gearbox is standard in S trim, but a continuously variable transmission (CVT) goes into other Sentras and is optional for the S edition.
Offered with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a specially tuned version of Nissan's CVT, the new 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the SR Turbo generates 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. The Turbo's suspension is a little stiffer than usual.
With or without turbo power, SR is the sporty premium Sentra model. An available Premium Package adds a moonroof, Bose eight-speaker audio, leather upholstery, upgraded infotainment, and several active-safety features. A Style Package for SV includes the moonroof, a rear spoiler, and 16-inch alloy wheels. Base S models don't even include a rearview camera. At least, outward visibility is good, helped by a lower beltline and relatively high seating position.
Fuel economy is a plus, but safety ratings are less impressive and contemporary safety technology is offered only on top trim levels. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave Sentra Good crash-test scores and declared it a Top Safety Pick. In crash-testing for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Sentra got only four stars overall and for frontal impact, but five stars for side-impact collision.
Forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking is part of a Technology Package, along with adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert also are offered.
Nissan Sentra S ($16,990) comes with a 6-speed manual gearbox, four-speaker audio, and 16-inch wheels. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.) Sentra S CVT ($17,990) substitutes the continuously variable transmission, adding cruise control, automatic headlights, and Bluetooth phone connectivity.
Sentra SV ($18,790) adds a rearview camera, smartphone connectivity, Siri Eyes Free voice recognition, and keyless ignition. Option packages include features such as a moonroof, heated mirrors and front seats, and navigation.
Sentra SR ($19,990) features appearance add-ons including lower bodyside sill extensions, a rear spoiler, and 17-inch alloy wheels, plus all-disc brakes.
Sentra SR Turbo manual ($21,990) comes with the turbocharged engine, 6-speed manual gearbox, upgraded suspension and steering, sport seats, sunroof, and Bluetooth audio streaming. Sentra SR Turbo CVT ($21,990) substitutes the continuously variable transmission.
Sentra SL ($21,500) features leather trim, a power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, NissanConnect with navigation, and an auto-dimming mirror.
Sentra NISMO ($24,990) offers factory-tuned performance, including turbo engine and either 6-speed manual shift or a CVT.