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Nissan Sentra Performance

The 2015 Nissan Sentra is an OK car for commuting and running errands, but it doesn't handle as well as a number of rivals and isn't very engaging to drive, according to critics. Ride quality is comfortable in most cases, though a few critics think the ride could be softer over rough roads. Reviewers say it could use more power on the highway. The Sentra's EPA fuel economy rating with the optional continuously variable transmission is good for the class.

  • "Unlike some rivals, the Sentra doesn't aspire to be sporty or aggressive on the road. Even the smartly dressed SR is really the same agreeable Sentra underneath. This Nissan just provides comfortable basic transportation, highlighted by a relatively quiet, compliant ride." -- AutoTrader
  • "No one expects the 2015 Nissan Sentra compact sedan to light a fire under the enthusiast driver's seat, but as daily commuter we think the Sentra does an excellent job of combining good handling with a comfortable ride." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Passing power at highway speeds is merely adequate. With a running start you can make it around big trucks, but don't expect to make any last-minute passes around inattentive cell phone slugs." -- Edmunds (2013)
  • "The Sentra doesn't feel pokey in most driving situations, but the whine of the engine was persistent (and annoying) whenever we punched the gas pedal. The CVT transmission is meant to be more compact and economical than a traditional gearbox and, in most instances, it performs quietly and remains nicely in the background." -- Road and Track (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The Nissan Sentra is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 130 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard (base trim only) and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 29/39 mpg city/highway with the CVT, which is good for the class.

Reviewers point out that the Sentra isn't as powerful as most rivals and some say that it struggles at highway speeds. Still, they mention that its CVT is responsive and feels very similar to a conventional automatic in its operation.

  • "The price to pay for the Sentra's fuel-thrifty ways is less power and acceleration than many competitors, with the standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder producing just 130 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque. The entry-level six-speed manual helps hasten passing maneuvers but increases consumption to 27/36 mpg." -- Left Lane News
  • "The Sentra's 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine is among the least powerful in the segment, but we can attest that it moves two adults up to highway speeds just fine. With four adults, though, highway merging might require a bit more planning." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "One potential drawback is that the Sentra's mandatory 1.8-liter engine is less powerful than almost everything else in this class. That might not mean much to those who care more about fuel economy than power until the need to overtake slower-moving traffic or merge onto a busy freeway arises." -- AutoTrader
  • "The Sentra's CVT is one of the better ones out there, offering little of the strangely elastic 'rubber-banding' sensation some of these transmissions suffer. If you're accustomed to driving small cars with conventional automatic transmissions, you probably won't notice much difference here." -- Edmunds (2014)

Handling and Braking

The 2015 Sentra has front-wheel drive. Reviewers write that the Nissan Sentra's ride quality is acceptable in most cases but can feel uncomfortably stiff over rough roads. Some say it has steady handling and well-weighted steering, but most think there are too many uncontrolled body motions through turns and that a number of rivals are more fun to drive.

  • "Handling is adequately composed in emergency maneuvers, but the Sentra is all about setting it and forgetting it." -- AutoTrader
  • "Competent and predicable on the road, the Sentra is nonetheless not the most engaging compact sedan around; more fun can be had in rivals like the Ford Focus or Mazda Mazda3." -- Left Lane News
  • "The Sentra's electric power steering is nicely weighted and, although not as interactive as the system in the Mazda3, we think it's better than the setup in the Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The ride is too firm for people who don't care about driving, but the level of body roll will disappoint those who do." -- Car and Driver (2013)
  • "The car rides nicely enough and the damping is generally good, though it gives up on the worst bumps and sends them straight to the cabin. Handling, as the man said, is adequate at best. The body is not well-controlled and the car flops over in turns." -- Motor Trend (2013)
Review Last Updated: 5/14/15

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