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2014 Nissan Sentra Overview
Entering the second year of its seventh generation, which debuted for the 2013 model year, the Nissan Sentra 4-door compact sedan receives a number of refinements for 2014, designed to enhance its performance and passenger comfort. Nissan has retuned the Sentra's steering system and suspension to provide better responsiveness and less body roll, and added insulation and sealing to ensure a quieter cabin. The automaker also tweaked the Sentra's available continuously variable transmission (CVT) to improve acceleration. Inside, the revamped front seats provide better comfort and support and now include side storage pockets. In addition, Nissan introduces its new NissanConnect Apps with the available navigation system, which allow drivers to integrate their smart phones with the system to access Pandora, Facebook and other Internet services.
The 2013 generational updates certainly seem to have given the Sentra a much-needed shot in the arm. Since the seventh generation's debut, Sentra sales have jumped more than 16 percent, Nissan notes. However, the Sentra still faces stiff competition in its tough market class, which includes such vehicles as the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Mazda3. Many competitive vehicles deliver better handling and more power than the Sentra, which explains some of the 2014 updates. On the plus side, the Sentra offers a roomy rear passenger seat and plenty of cargo space, which makes it a good choice for families on a budget.
For 2014, the front-wheel-drive Sentra again comes in S, FE+ S, SV, FE+ SV, SR and SL trim levels. Power for all trims comes from a 1.8-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine with direct injection. It generates 130 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque, and links to a 6-speed manual transmission in the S trim. All other trims get an Xtronic CVT, which is available as an option in the S trim. Nissan retuned the CVT for 2014 for quicker shifting and better acceleration. Fuel economy numbers check in at 27 mpg city/36 highway for the S trim with the manual shifter, 30/40 for the FE+ S and FE+ SV, and 30/39 for the SV, SR and SL.
Although the Sentra posts good fuel-economy numbers for its class, its performance doesn't match that of some competitive vehicles, like the Mazda3 and the Focus. However, the Sentra accelerates smoothly and quietly, and it should deliver enough power for most around-town driving needs. While the CVT generally gets good reviews, some testers are not fond of the manual shifter, which they say lacks a quality feel.
Nissan made a number of upgrades to the Sentra's suspension for 2014 to enhance the sedan's ride and reduce body roll. The automaker retuned the Sentra's springs and shocks, added thicker stabilizer bars in the front and rear, and adjusted damping on the shock absorbers to make the ride more comfortable. In addition, the electric power steering system now has a quicker turn ratio.
Outside, the Sentra displays styling cues similar to those found on the automaker's top-selling sedans, like the Altima and the Maxima, although in a more compact version. Up front, wraparound headlights frame a trapezoidal chrome grille, while distinctive lines sweep from either side of the grille, back across the hood and right along the roof, creating a unifying effect. A second body-length line swoops along the sides. Pronounced wheel wells provide a muscular appearance, while a kink at the back of the rear window adds visual appeal. Halogen headlights with LED accent lights come standard on all Sentra trims, along with power side mirrors and LED taillights. The SR and SL trims get front foglights, while the SR gets front and rear sport fascias, a sport grille and a chrome exhaust finisher. Both FE+ trims include a rear spoiler, which helps account for that slight uptick in fuel-economy numbers at highway speeds.
Inside, Nissan upgraded the Sentra's seats by revising the springs, as well as the foam density and shaping, to enhance comfort. In addition, the front seats in all trims now include lower storage pockets. A sliding front armrest becomes a standard feature on the SL trim for 2014 and joins optional Driver Packages for the SV and SR trims. Cloth upholstery comes standard on all trims, although the SV, SR and SL get upgraded premium cloth upholstery. Nissan offers optional leather upholstery and heated front seats for the top-level SL trim, which includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob as standard features. A 60/40-split rear seatback comes standard on all trims.
Air conditioning, remote keyless entry, silver interior trim and a 4-speaker audio system with a CD player are among the standard features on the S and FE+ S trims, while the SV and FE+ SV add such additional features as cruise control, 2 additional speakers, chrome accents on the instrument gauges and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The SR gets sport silver interior trim, and the top-level SL rounds out the lineup with push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, maple wood-tone interior trim, a 4.3-inch color monitor and an upgraded 6-speaker audio system with Bluetooth, satellite radio and a USB port. Owners can add a navigation system at the SR and SL trim levels. It includes a larger 5.8-inch touchscreen and new NissanConnect apps. Other options for the SR and SL trims include an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and an 8-speaker Bose audio system.
All Sentra trims seat 5 and offer a fairly generous 15.1 cubic feet for storage space. Reviewers like the Sentra's back seat and find it roomy enough for adults. The updated front seats should help improve comfort, which has lagged over previous years. Overall, reviewers like the Sentra's quality of materials and overall interior fit and finish.
In past years, the Sentra has received only Acceptable safety ratings from the the IIHS, and an overall 4 out of 5 stars from the NHTSA. Six airbags are among the standard safety features, along with traction control, stability control, daytime running lights and antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.