The compact class of vehicles is overcrowded right about now, so the pickings are far from slim. Pretty much each automaker offers a compact—Mazda, Hyundai, Ford, Kia, VW, the list practically never ends. The bottom line comes down to just good old research and plenty of it, so that you can whittle down the compact vehicle of your choice. Enter the 2014 Nissan Sentra, a compact that has got it going on and then some.
The Sentra which was redesigned last year is basically a rerun this year but with some drivability upgrades. The Sentra’s exterior obviously took a few of its design cues from its larger sibling the Altima. The car is neatly wrapped with a more than an eyeful of visual pizzazz--chrome grill that expands as you inch up, a front-to-back sweeping character line, side sculpting and dramatic halogen headlights framed by LED accent lights.
The Sentra’s innards are solid, tidy with materials that are certainly not chintzy and perhaps even suited to a higher priced midsizer. Room for all, particularly in the leg room department (two six-footers will fit comfortably in the rear), broad comfy seating front and back with appropriate bolstering, nicely curved and attractive dash with straightforward instrumentation that works and feels right to the touch and vision. The look and feel of the cabin is contemporary with tasteful accents that would not offend uppity-ups. The Sentra’s trunk is also a nice surprise as it measures 15.1 cubic feet and is one of the largest in its compact category.
Bells and whistles like the optional navigation package that is viewed on a 5.8-inch screen is really noteworthy, as it doesn’t require a degree to operate it. The NissanConnect smartphone app integration is certainly one of the best around and pairing your phone in the Sentra will be quick and painless, as the system enables hands-free text messaging and Internet radio streaming as well.
Sentra has gotten a truly unfair rap for being a little lazy on acceleration and a snore on the roads but here is someone who begs to differ. The car’s steering has a nice feel with adequate feedback. Handling the Sentra, particularly when taking hairpin corners makes you smile and is downright effortless. The vehicle also calmly absorbs with quiet ease, all that the road throws at your tires. The Sentra’s anti-lock braking system will snag your attention, as it inspires confidence, providing a consistent response even in the worst weather. A few folks have bellyached with regards to cabin noise in the Sentra and Nissan has made changes in this area but noise was absolutely a non-factor during testing.
Nissan offers the 2014 Sentra in basic S, popular SV, sporty SR and upscale SL trims (the test vehicle). The Sentra sports a 1.8-liter four cylinder engine that kicks out 130 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque and once you get going, you’ll appreciate the ride and are even able to pass a few slow pokes on the roads with some surprising “Na,na,na,na,na!” moves.
Sentra’s real draw is its outstanding gas mileage, one of the best in its class at 30 city/39 hwy/34 combo with continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Safety features are plentiful in the Sentra that comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints; a rearview camera is optional.
Priced aggressively starting at $15,990, the 2014 Nissan Sentra hands-down meets the mark and is a super buy for those folks, who are looking for a stylish compact that won’t put a hurting on their pockets.
Need more info? www.nissanusa.com/Sentra