Buyers of compact cars have no shortage of choice, with the latest crop of 2017 models proving to be more competitive, refined, and advanced. Nissan's Sentra, redesigned just last year, provides customers looking for an affordable sedan with plenty of equipment, a spacious interior, and low running costs a good option.
For 2017, the Sentra gains a new trim level: SR Turbo. It takes the place of the SR trim level, and offers a sportier driving experience to match its exterior styling.
As its name suggests, the SR Turbo is indeed powered by a turbocharged engine. In this case, it’s a 1.6-litre direct-injected unit shared with the Nissan Juke crossover. Power is rated at 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque, and the engine can be paired with either a six-speed manual or a CVT, both of which have been tuned specifically for the SR Turbo.
The SR Turbo also receives stiffer springs and dampers, additional bracing, and tweaks to the electric power steering. While it may not be a Sentra NISMO, it will certainly give the turbocharged Honda Civic and the upcoming Elantra Sport a run for the money, and should provide a more involved driving experience than the standard Sentra.
Elsewhere, the Sentra range remains essentially unchanged.
The engine featured on the S, SV, and SL trim is a 1.8-litre four-cylinder that produces 130 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque. While that figure trails the competition, the Sentra offers fuel economy that tops the segment. When equipped with the CVT transmission, city consumption is rated at 8.0 L/100 km and highway consumption at 6.1 L/100 km. The CVT is standard on the SL, and optional on the S and SV; the S and SV receive a six-speed manual as standard.
Interior space is a Sentra strong suit with stretch-out rear-seat legroom comparable to some mid-size sedans, and a large, 428L trunk with standard 60/40 split folding rear seats. While the cabin’s design may not be especially flashy, simple, intuitive controls make this an easy car to operate, even with the upgraded touchscreen and navigation systems.
Standard equipment on the Sentra includes remote keyless entry, cruise control, Bluetooth for phone, USB, tire pressure monitoring, and, when equipped with the optional CVT, air conditioning.
A reverse camera, alloy wheels, air conditioning, proximity key with push-button start, heated seats, sport steering wheel, 5.0-inch touchscreen display with mobile apps and Siri Eyes Free, plus a 5.0-inch instrument cluster display are included with the SV.
Features including a sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, LED headlamps, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, power driver's seat, Bose stereo system, navigation, and fog lights are available on upper trim levels.
Buyers concerned about safety should note that the Sentra is available with emergency autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert, though these features are limited to upper trim levels. Thanks to last year's update, the Sentra is safer, earning an IIHS Top Safety Pick+.