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The 2024 Nissan Sentra – ON THE LEVEL, A SOLID ENTRY

Car Reviews

The 2024 Nissan Sentra – ON THE LEVEL, A SOLID ENTRY

The 2024 Nissan Sentra

ON THE LEVEL, A SOLID ENTRY

BIVINS, Texas –I have driven it more than 100 times, but State Highway 43 between Atlanta, TX and Marshall remains one of my favorite jaunts.

As I approached Atlanta on the first of two road trips to cover playoff games, my phone’s Satnav recommended the route as shorter and quicker. It was easy to skip the big trucks, small towns, and speed traps on U.S. 59 in favor of a dash through rolling hills, tall trees, and dark bayous.

My aversion to buying gasoline moderated my need for speed. However, I still had the opportunity to play around with the only significant addition Nissan made this year to its  8th-generation Sentra that hit showrooms in 2020. A new Xtronic CVT transmission is billed as smoother, more fuel efficient and more responsive, and it is indeed all those things.

There are no paddle shifters or buttons, but we discovered that dropping the shifter into low forced the transmission to kick up the revs and deliver torque – nearly as well as a manual transmission worked – smoothly between third and fourth gears. 

We put more than 300 miles on the compact sedan that week and averaged around 31 mpg; these days that’s good, but not great. Competitors like the Toyota Corolla Hybrid will cost more but deliver a combined fuel economy of over 40 mpg. Oh, and hybrids last longer; check out Consumer Reports’ list of the ten most reliable cars.

The base Sentra, with a starting price of just over $20,000, comes with a manual six-speed transmission. It may be a challenge to find one on a dealer lot. It is hard to sell a car when no one in the target demographic knows how to drive it.

Throw in popular goodies, like an upgraded sound system and digital doodads, and most Sentras sell in the $24,000 to $28,000 range. The car market—used and new—is slowing, and Nissan is flush with inventory. This week, the manufacturer authorized dealers to advertise vehicles at 10% off the list price – and 15% off on Armadas. 

At that price, the Sentra is a real sleeper—a nicely equipped new car for about the same price as a 3- to 4-year-old used one. Considering that this is the fifth year of a car built around one of Nissan’s best engines and that the only glaring driveline weakness – its transmission – is greatly improved, the 2024 Sentra looks like a smart buy.

Ride and Handling

The 2024 model is the best-driving Sentra we have experienced. It excels in delivering a smooth and composed experience. The suspension is well-tuned, effectively absorbing bumps and road imperfections, resulting in a comfortable ride quality. The steering is responsive and precise, offering good feedback to the driver. The overall driving dynamics balance comfort and sportiness, making it suitable for daily commuting and occasional spirited driving.

Performance and Fuel Economy

The 2024 Sentra has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, generating 149 horsepower. While it may not be the most powerful engine in its class, it provides sufficient power for most driving situations. The acceleration is respectable, and the engine operates quietly and smoothly. 

Cabin Comfort

Inside the Sentra, the cabin is well-designed and spacious. The seats are comfortable and supportive, providing ample legroom and headroom for front and rear passengers. 

On a more extended trip, however, the driver’s seat reminded us that the Sentra is, and always has been, primarily an in-town runabout: great for commuting but uncomfortable on the long haul. At some point, this aged and skinny derriere began to feel the seat frame under the padding.

The use of quality materials throughout the interior gives it a premium feel. The cabin is also well-insulated, minimizing outside noise and creating a serene driving environment. The Sentra did a substantially better job damping the howl of chip-sealed roads than others in its class.

The trunk space is generous, allowing ample room for luggage or groceries.

Price Range and Trim Lines

The base S trim is the most affordable option, providing essential features such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The SV trim ($21,560) adds blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration. 

The SR trim ($23,720) focuses on sporty styling cues. In contrast, the range-topping SL trim offers additional comfort and convenience features such as leather upholstery, a premium audio system and a power-adjustable driver’s seat.

Major Competitors

The Sentra faces tough competition in the compact sedan segment. Significant rivals include the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Hyundai Elantra. The Civic is known for its engaging driving dynamics and high-quality interior. The Corolla offers a reputation for reliability, fuel efficiency, and advanced safety features. The Elantra provides a stylish design, comfortable ride, and a long list of standard features. 

Safety Technology

Nissan has equipped the 2024 Sentra with advanced safety technologies to enhance driver and passenger protection. Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and rearview camera. Higher trims offer features such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control.

One advantage competitors have is lane-keep assist, which avoids two of the most lethal types of wrecks – head-ons and rollovers – by keeping the vehicle inside the lines. The Sentra has lane-monitoring technology, which notifies drivers that they are veering out of the lane with an irritating sound. Most people turn it off.

Bottom Line

Those in the market for a second car, a college car, or dependable transportation would be wise to consider a Sentra when shopping.

In four decades of journalism, Bill Owney has picked up awards for his coverage of everything from murders to the NFL to state and local government. He added the automotive world to his portfolio in the mid '90s.

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