2019 Sentra New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Sentra is a roomy compact sedan with ordinary styling that gets great fuel mileage, and is noted in some quarters for its sporty attitude, with SR Turbo and racy Nismo models. Heavy-hitting rivals include Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Mazda 3.
The Sentra was last redesigned in 2013, and got a facelift in 2016. For 2019 it gets some updates, including a new 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility on all but the base S model, and a new SV Special Edition package that adds convenience and safety features including automatic emergency braking.
The base engine is a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder that gets 32 combined miles per gallon, but it puts out just 124 horsepower with 125 pound-feet of torque, through a continuously variable transmission. There is an available 6-speed manual transmission that gives the engine 5 more horsepower, but it drops the fuel mileage to 30 mpg combined. Another thing: automatic emergency braking, standard with the CVT, is not available with the 6-speed.
The SR Turbo and Nismo models use a 1.6-liter turbo making a much stronger 188 horsepower with 177 pound-feet of torque. The standard CVT has simulated gears with steps that improve the game, but the available 6-speed manual gives the driver more choice. This engine gets 29 mpg combined in the SR Turbo and 27 mpg combined in the Nismo, with either transmission, but it requires premium fuel.
Blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control are available on upper trim levels. There are also some clever features such as an easy-fill tire alert that honks the horn when the tires are properly inflated.
Good scores earn the Sentra a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, when it's fitted with automatic emergency braking and LED headlamps. The IIHS rates the standard headlights 'Poor,” while giving top marks to the Sentra's child-seat anchors.
The NHTSA, which bases its crash scores only on crash results, gives the Sentra four stars overall, with five stars for side impact and four stars for frontal impact. .
The Nissan Sentra comes in six models: S, SV, SR, SL, SR Turbo, and Nismo, ranging in price from about $18,700 to more than $27,000 for a Nismo with the CVT.
The base Sentra S includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Bluetooth, automatic headlights, four-speaker sound system, and a rearview camera.
The SV trim features better cloth upholstery, keyless ignition, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, 16-inch alloys, a six-speaker audio system, and an updated 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
A Special Edition package upgrades the wheels and adds rear disc brakes, along with blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, and adaptive cruise control.
SR adds leather upholstery, power driver's seat and adaptive cruise control, while SL adds a moonroof, Bose audio and blind-spot monitors.
A Midnight Edition package is available for S and SR models, featuring blacked-out body accents and 17-inch wheels.
The SR Turbo brings the more powerful turbocharged engine with the CVT, while the Nismo adds 18-inch wheels, sporty details inside and outside, and deeper front bucket seats. It's available with a 6-speed manual or the CVT..