in 2010 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $9,512 - $12,231
Original MSRP: $15,420 - $20,080
MPG: 26 City / 34 Hwy
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2010 Nissan Sentra Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

There's nothing remarkable about the Nissan Sentra's power or handling, but test drivers don't find any significant problems either. Some reviewers complain about engine noise, particularly when the road gets a bit rough, but they are impressed with the optional continuously variable transmission. It helps the Sentra get decent gas mileage, about 24/31 mpg city/highway, for its class.

  • "Smooth, relaxed in-town commutes and effortless freeway cruising with cabin noise levels that remain commendably low regardless of vehicle speed." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 2.0-liter Sentras are smooth and devoid of surprises, but offer little fun." -- Car and Driver
  • "The engine buzzes at full throttle and doesn't completely settle down while cruising. Some road noise intrudes, but the cabin is well-isolated overall. Spec V has a raspier, performance-oriented exhaust note and more road noise." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Handling abilities are merely mediocre, and consequently, this isn't the most enjoyable small car to drive." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

Reviewers see the Sentra as a "competent" performer, which is hardly a compliment, but shouldn't be called a jab either. Most agree that while this car isn't the most fun to drive, it works well as a daily driver. If you're looking for something with a little more zoom-zoom, you might want to check out the Mazda3.

The Sentra's 2.0, 2.0 S, 2.0 SR and 2.0 SL trims come equipped with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that delivers 140 horsepower. The SE-R comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that offers a stronger 177 horsepower. The top-of-the-line SE-R Spec V comes with the strongest engine, which is a 2.5 liter four-cylinder machine that punches out 200 horsepower. The base Sentra comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, while an automatic CVT (continuously variable transmission) is available on higher trims.

The EPA ratings for the Sentra vary depending on engine and transmission, but at an average of 24/31 mpg city/highway the Sentra is still at or above what is average for the class. Be forewarned though, the Sentra's higher trim engine, when paired with the manual transmission, gets about 21/28 mpg, a rating which is among the lowest in the class. If gas mileage is important to you, consider the Honda Civic, which offers some of the best fuel ratings in its class.  

  • "In general, the ... Nissan Sentra is a competent performer. The 2.0 models provide an adequate amount of smooth power, but the CVT tends to keep the revs a bit elevated at highway speeds, and this constant drone can get tiresome on long trips." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2.0 models have decent around-town power, but passing punch is lacking." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

The automotive press complains that the Nissan Sentra's ride is anything but smooth. If you're looking for a good performer that offers an easy ride, consider the Volkswagen Jetta. Many reviewers consider it worth the extra cost since it offers one of the smoothest rides in its class.

  • "Sentra has a solid body structure, but a lack of suspension refinement means ride quality falls well short of the class leaders. Large bumps and rippled pavement bring about sloppy wheel patter and other unwanted motions. Spec V's ride is more controlled. It's stiffer but is never outright harsh." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Road imperfections are felt throughout the cabin, creating a relatively choppy ride." -- Edmunds
  • "A fair amount of body roll during aggressive cornering maneuvers and prominent nose-dipping under hard stops with their capable front disc and rear drum anti-lock brakes." -- Kelley Blue Book

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