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2019 Nissan Sentra review ... via rental


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Nissan hasn't gotten the best press and the best sales numbers lately.  I recently had a Nissan Sentra as a rental.  This was a one car bump up in category from what I rented on line.  I had driven one once before.  Surprisingly, this is now considered an intermediate car.  To me, it's a compact car.

The Nissan Sentra is more likable than one might image, but it's also sort of boring and predictable.  It's likable because it does everything fairly well for its size and price point, while not excelling at any particular thing.  On second thought, it excels in terms of fuel economy when on a highway jaunt.  Also, the Sentra is a very easy car to get accustomed to once you get behind the wheel.

The controls of this Nissan are fairly straightforward, with the two big circular dials in the IP for the tach and speedo.  In between is a square box for messages.  The alignment and simplicity of things in the center stack is also easy to work with.  The info audio screen and climate control are easier to operate than they are on a similar sized Toyota product.  The console is about the size you'd expect in a car of this caliber.

The demerits are that, in the center message box, you can't get one that displays the speed in digital form.  Or, maybe, I couldn't find it.  I kept trying since I much prefer a digital read on m.p.h.  The other not so clever thing is what happens on the steering wheel toggle controls.  In my mind, it makes more sense to have speed controls on the left side and audio controls on the right side, given that they are closer to the center stack.  So, when I thought I was upping or lowering my cruise speed, I was actually changing the track on my music.  Lastly, while the trunk remote is perfectly placed and feels great to the touch, they put the fuel release door way, way down ... by the trunk release.

However, overall, the entire dashboard and its controls are very satisfactory, even if the materials of the vinyl covering swaths of the dashboard are slightly downmarket.  Compared to the vertical nature of the Toyota Corolla's dashboard style, the dashboard of the Nissan Sentra is more nicely shaped, particularly from the passenger's viewpoint.  It seems to give the front seating area more room.  Also, the trunk is roomy and usable.

The seats are conventionally but nicely shaped.  In the base cloth, they look tough and like they're in it for the long haul.  The rear seating in the cabin has abundant leg room.  The visibility all around is excellent, even in the C-pillar with the inset opera windows of sorts.

The Sentra's styling is now a familiar sight.  The side profile has some swoops but is fairly simple, resembling a Buick Verano hit with an ugly stick.  I'm exaggerating!  But the volumes are much the same.  The front fascia is the typical one worn by Nissan products.  Here, I prefer the Toyota Corolla for having the horizontal and identifiable front bumper area.  This is placed underneath the busy plastic grille in the Sentra.  The rear lights have gotten more refined over the years and the rear 3/4 view is among one of the Sentra's better looks.

On the road, the 1.8 liter 4 cylinder engine is adequate.  It has served this car and Nissan for quite a while.  It's enough for most applications but I wouldn't get overly confident with what it can do ... and what situations it can get you out of.  Also, in true Nissan form, the transmission is a CVT.  It works okay most of the time but, on a merge or a pass, it does something a geared automatic would not do.  It seems to spool down in rpms when it decides to and does not seem as linked to what you dish out to the throttle as it would in a geared automatic transmission.  This situation felt unusual at times, as if it the CVT had a mind of its own.

Steering feel is adequate.  Road noise is reasonably controlled but, with most cars of this size, some wind noise and tire thum intrudes.  It could be quieter.  Its dimensions make it easy to maneuver and park but it's not as frisky and nimble in its handling as, say, a smaller Hyundai Accent.

The engine compartment is fairly straightforward.  The battery is easy to locate and probably easy to replace when that is needed.I found dipsticks and openings for the critical fluids except the transmission fluid.  I believe this is sealed on CVTs. 

The winning points of this car are the fuel mileage.  On most segments, I closed in on 40 mpg.  On one trek, I exceed 40 mpg, and this was cruising along at close to 70 mph.  That's impressive.  The car is also a good value and should last a good while if maintained, and that means taking care of that CVT with the recommended fluid changes.  

Between the Sentra and the Corolla, I think I like the Sentra more and, if the Corolla is now running with a CVT, then that would reinforce how I feel.  (However, between a bigger Altima and a bigger Camry, I would more quickly opt for a Camry.)  This is a car that can work for a lot of people who have reasonable demands of a vehicle, don't want to spend too much, and value excellent fuel economy.

(photos forthcoming)

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Photo gallery of sorts (labels beneath photos)

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1. Side view

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2.  Front 3/4 view

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3.  Rear 3/4 view

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4.  Overall look at front of passenger cabin

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5.  Comfortable enough and sturdy cloth seating

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6.  Spacious rear seating area with integral headrests which aren't that intrusive

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7.  Overall view of dashboard and console

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8.  These are the more pleasing dashboard volumes I was referring to, in contrast to those of the similarly sized Toyota Corolla; I prefer a dashboard where the upper part cants back toward the windshield

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9.  Good info in the middle square (time, temp, gear, range, and odometer) but I was not able to get or find the digital readout on the current speed which is better than the speedometer (for me)

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10.  It looks like a geared automatic but it's not.  It's a CVT.

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11.  The trunk control is the easiest one to work with I've seen to date

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12.  But, then, why do they put the fuel filler door release that far down, next to the hood release?

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13.  Inverted logic (for me) - sound controls are largely to the left

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14.  Inverted logic (for me) - cruise control is at the right

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15.  (a little blurry) Audio and info center screen is easier to use than in most cars and kudos for the climate control panel that is simple to operate

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16.  Rear visibility over beyond the passenger side is excellent, as is the visibility if you look over your shoulder on the driver's side

End of photos

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2 minutes ago, trinacriabob said:

Surprisingly, this is now considered an intermediate car.  To me, it's a compact car.

I would agree, but I assume that as vehicles get smaller overall, the ‘EPA’ will continue to redefine interior cubic volume definitions to still be able to -one day- call an altima a ‘full-size car’, just to say there still are ‘full-size cars’ and avoid the charge they’ve basically banned such via a host of mandates.

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57 minutes ago, balthazar said:

the ‘EPA’ will continue to redefine interior cubic volume definitions to still be able to -one day- call an altima a ‘full-size car’, just to say there still are ‘full-size cars’ and avoid the charge they’ve basically banned such via a host of mandates.

I never understood the reasoning behind calling a W-Body FWD Impala a fullsized when 20 years prior, the exact same length, width, height and weight RWD G-Bodys were midsiazed and so forth...

But today you have opened up my eyes as to why...

PS:  Id never touch the Sentra.  Nor the Corolla. Even as rentals. If I ever do...that would mean that I have given up on life and Im  just one short step in ending it all...   😁

 

Sorry if I have offended anybody that drives one or the other...

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42 minutes ago, oldshurst442 said:

I never understood the reasoning behind calling a W-Body FWD Impala a fullsized when 20 years prior, the exact same length, width, height and weight RWD G-Bodys were midsiazed and so forth...

But today you have opened up my eyes as to why...

PS:  Id never touch the Sentra.  Nor the Corolla. Even as rentals. If I ever do...that would mean that I have given up on life and Im  just one short step in ending it all...   😁

Agreed on both counts.

First, what was a midsize 20 years ago is still mid-sized to me - an '80s Cutlass Supreme would be a mid-size, but a mid '70s Cutlass Supreme might not be.  I was amazed at how they were able to keep the interior creature comforts and ride quality in that downsizing.  That was a well studied change.  As for their putting THM 200s behind the engines, that wasn't.

I'm not offended.  I agree, within reason!  When I go to rent a car, I always ask what they have from domestic manufacturers.  The thing is that almost everyone is fully loaded up on Japanese and Korean iron in their rental fleets.  The only category where you'll have a high likelihood of driving domestic is full size, which would be a Malibu.

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On 12/12/2019 at 3:10 PM, trinacriabob said:

but a mid '70s Cutlass Supreme might not be

It may or may not.  It grew substantially from the previous gen.  True true. And fullsized offering also grew only to be downsized again in 1977.  I havent studied the numbers, and Im intrigued (yes, Oldsmobile pun intended...) to see what dimensions the 1973-1977 Cutlass is in relation to the 1977-1990 Caprice. 

On 12/12/2019 at 3:10 PM, trinacriabob said:

  I was amazed at how they were able to keep the interior creature comforts and ride quality in that downsizing.  That was a well studied change.  As for their putting THM 200s behind the engines, that wasn't.

yes.  And another generation after how they managed to get most of their platforms to FWD. OK...I heard that the W-Body was botched in the launching causing GM to lose money the first few years, but, one has got to admit, the W-Body as a FWD platform was a very good one and all 4 brands had great cars from that platform whether we want to admit it or not.

On 12/12/2019 at 3:10 PM, trinacriabob said:

I'm not offended.  I agree, within reason!  When I go to rent a car, I always ask what they have from domestic manufacturers.  The thing is that almost everyone is fully loaded up on Japanese and Korean iron in their rental fleets.  The only category where you'll have a high likelihood of driving domestic is full size, which would be a Malibu.

I wasnt targeting you.  I was just trying to be funny. But yeah. I wouldnt touch a Sentra or Corolla though.  But you seem to rent cars often because, Im guessing, your line of work?   

Now...I feel kinda bad for putting you on the spot like that.... NOT!!!  😛

(yes...a corny 1990s expression...forgive me) 

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Mom went gaga today over a 2020 Versa SR in Monarch Orange, seen at the local Nissan dealership.  She also likes the Hyundai Venue SEL in Green Apple.  And the Toyota Yaris LE hatch.  And the Kia Soul.

I think the new Versa looks really good for an entry-level car.  Shame they stopped with the hatchback and steered customers to the Kicks.  The Kicks is also decent, but, with alloys, it has an MSRP of around $22k.  The Versa SV is around $18.9k.

When a Venue SEL with Convenience Package is $21.7k, and a Kia Soul S is $21.5k, I'd much rather she have the Kia, as it is a substantially larger, nicer vehicle than the Venue, imo.

She has a year to decide, and even then, I am afraid it is going to come down to who has the best lease deal at the time.

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On 12/14/2019 at 5:50 PM, ocnblu said:

Mom went gaga today over a 2020 Versa SR in Monarch Orange, seen at the local Nissan dealership.  She also likes the Hyundai Venue SEL in Green Apple.  And the Toyota Yaris LE hatch.  And the Kia Soul.

I think the new Versa looks really good for an entry-level car.  Shame they stopped with the hatchback and steered customers to the Kicks.  The Kicks is also decent, but, with alloys, it has an MSRP of around $22k.  The Versa SV is around $18.9k.

When a Venue SEL with Convenience Package is $21.7k, and a Kia Soul S is $21.5k, I'd much rather she have the Kia, as it is a substantially larger, nicer vehicle than the Venue, imo.

She has a year to decide, and even then, I am afraid it is going to come down to who has the best lease deal at the time.

you wouldn't believe the Murano lease deals around here recently.  A Murano S almost the cheapest lease lately.  If you're buying of course its a different story.

Nice review writeup on the Sentra, Robert.  

I think the 2020 or is it 2021 Sentra is a nice improvement.  THis current version is not bad but i would definitely wait for the new version of Sentra over both the Versa and current Sentra.  It would be one of those deals where depending on lease incentives a current month the new Sentra and now current Altima could be darn close to each other OTD payment wise.  The Altima with AWD i think opens up a new market for Nissan to keep sales of sedans going in its showrooms.....

The Kicks is a nice ride also, but I want to see what the new Trailblazer looks like before anything in that segment now.

I still would spend money in a Nissan before a Hyundai or Toyota I think myself.

Edited by regfootball
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Mom's BF complains to her about getting in and out of the Forte (they are 75 years old now) after the Versa Note she had before (Kia Soul before that... Nissan Cube before that) so I can understand why she wants to get back into something with a higher hip point, she has remarked about it too.

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