June 20, 2024
Wheels

Nissan Sentra SR begs crossover customers to think compact sedan

Value pricing, great fuel economy are reasons to believe

The 2024 Nissan Sentra is a handsome sedan that starts at a stunning $20,630.

The 2024 Nissan Sentra is one of those cars that reminds me that as the car segment shrinks in the shadow of booming truck and SUV sales, it is easy to forget why the car was king for decades. Here’s one reason to consider the Sentra – it has a starting price of $20,630!

There are several reasons to consider a car when the crossover/SUV is king: One, fuel efficiency, it’s always nice to save money at the pump; two, cost, in almost all cases cars cost a lot less than trucks and SUVs; and three, the fun factor is light-years ahead of the bigger, bulkier vehicles.

I tested the 2024 Sentra SR, the top-end of the compact sedan’s lineup. The car features appearance updates, including a new front fascia and restyled headlights. In addition, there are new 16- and 18-inch alloy wheel designs, as well as a restyled rear fascia and new interior accent stitching color.

On the mechanical side, Nissan engineers have added a new Xtronic CVT transmission and the addition of Idle Stop Start, along with a smooth, responsive 2.0-liter inline-four engine, to deliver improved fuel efficiency for the 2024 model.

On the outside, the Sentra is a sleek and stylish sedan that looks handsome in its bold metallic paint and two-tone roof and side mirrors. This is the top end of the line and it has everything you could want and, wait for it ... it has a base price of $24,835.

The front end is where all the attitude comes from. Featuring a large, black grille slung low in the nose and bookended by sweeping LED headlamps. Side air intakes in the lower cowl add a level of sportiness. Overall, it’s really impressive for this segment.

Performance

Another great thing about cars, and especially a compact sedan like the Sentra, is the ability of its smaller, lighter frame to get around town with a lot fewer horsies. My SR featured a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine delivering 149 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque. In most cases, the engine performed great the entire week I had it. The only times it fell below expectations was probably more of a combination of my lead foot and the transmission.

My experience with Nissan’s Continuously Variable Transmission over the last decade has been lukewarm at best. The CVTs never quite feel like they are synchronized with the engine’s ability to put out what is frankly moderate horsepower. Nonetheless, this new CVT is a huge step forward. This one, I could live with.

Nissan’s reasons for pushing the CVT transmission is of course its ability to save fuel. The EPA rates this SR model at 28 mpg city and 37 highway. In addition to the CVT, Nissan has added a Stop/Start feature to assist in further easing fuel consumption.

Impressive cabin

As a compact sedan, there’s an expectation that things will be a bit snug inside. For the most part, this is true for the Sentra. My tester featured the $2,490 Premium Package add-on that upgraded the seats to Nissan’s Prima-Tex faux leather and added a huge sunroof that opened up the cabin. The console and armrests feature soft-touch surfaces that add a lot of comfort.

I liked the simple approach to the dash design with everything in its expected position and nothing jammed into one clustered area. The matte silver trim around the air vents and controls, along with a cool-looking faux black carbon fiber by the driver’s instrument binnacle and atop the doors adds some style.

The Sentra features a leather-covered steering wheel (manual tilt) with a unique flat bottom that creates more knee room when entering and exiting. The dash and console controls and buttons are easy to use and Nissan’s 7-inch info screen is easy to read with sharp icons and colors.

Nissan calls the SR’s Zero Gravity seats because they have been based on a NASA design. These are some of the best seats offered in a value-priced car and thanks to the Premium package they are six-way powered with a power lumbar support. SRs are heated, while the Premium package adds a heated steering wheel.

Head and legroom are good in the front and rear for four average-sized adults. The trunk is better than average in size (15 cubic feet), and it gets even bigger and more versatile with split and fold-down rear seats.

Sentra offers Sirius radio, a WiFi hotspot, dual illuminated visor mirrors, and a quite capable Bose audio system with eight speakers. All Sentras include standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay adaptability. While there was no hard-wired Nav system, there are ports to sync your phone up for navigation.

Safety

While class-exclusive Intelligent Forward Collision Warning is equipped as standard, additional driver-assist technology includes Intelligent Driver Alertness, available Intelligent Around View® Monitor, available Intelligent Cruise Control6 and standard Easy-Fill Tire Alert system.

Like all Nissan models, Sentra prioritizes safety for peace of mind. All grades have standard Nissan Safety Shield 360, a suite of six advanced driver-assist systems including Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and Rear Automatic Braking.

Final thoughts

In a world where the truck and SUV appear to be making the car a relic of the past, don’t miss the chance to get a deal with the value-minded 2024 Sentra SR. My tester had everything and with destination and the Premium package, it landed at an impressive $28,240.

• John Stein is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. He has more than 25 years of experience driving, testing and writing about the automotive industry, its latest innovations and new vehicles.