Sentra

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2015 Nissan Sentra Overview

The Nissan Sentra has and has always had serious competition in the compact sedan segment, but the 2015 model compares favorably with big players like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Hyundai Elantra. On price, a base Sentra is almost $1,000 cheaper than the Corolla and almost $2,500 cheaper than the Civic. On fuel economy, it also has one or two miles per gallon on its peers, with cargo space a tiny bit bigger as well, at 111 cubic feet. The seventh-generation Sentra was introduced during the fall of 2012 and redesigned for 2013; changes for 2015 are notable if not major. The main things this year are changes to the interior and previously optional items becoming standard equipment. As always, the Sentra will be a relatively basic but competent automobile and a solid choice for a practical daily driver.

As far as what’s new for 2015, the entry-level S trim now has a standard USB connection port, Bluetooth connectivity, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, Smart Auto Headlights (they can turn on and off based on the surrounding environment), and cruise control. Those wanting to do the shifting themselves will have to opt for this S trim, as it is the only Sentra available with a good-old-fashioned manual. Impressively, it’s a 6-speed. The next-level-up FE+S model basically adds to the standard S with a rear spoiler, rear tire and underbody aerodynamic deflectors, and Nissan’s new XTronic continuously variable transmission (CVT), claimed to save weight and increase fuel economy over the previous CVT. These advanced single-speed CVT automatics were actually pioneered by Dutch automaker DAF in the late 1950s, but they’ve become widely utilized by Nissan, Honda, and others in the last few years. The seamless shifting is a bit strange compared to driving a normal automatic, but it’s easy to get used to, and it does (reportedly) save fuel.

The Sentra SV now includes RearView Monitor, the NissanConnect connectivity system with a 5-inch color display, SiriusXM Satellite Radio equipment, a sliding front armrest, smart key, hands-free text-messaging assistant, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a tire pressure warning system. The SV can also be had with the Style Package, which adds a power sliding moonroof, two illuminated vanity mirrors in the sun visors, sharp-looking 16-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels, and a rear spoiler. The Cold Weather Package is also available on the SV and adds heated seats in the front and defrosters for the outside mirrors.

The more performance-oriented package for the Sentra (which ironically can’t be had with the 6-speed) is called the SR. As previously, the SR gets 17-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels, lower body side-sill extensions, a rear spoiler with an integrated LED brake light, and a chrome exhaust tip. For 2015, the SR adds heated front seats, outside mirror defrosters, rear disc brakes, a 6-speaker audio system, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and leather-wrapped shift knob as standard equipment. The Premium Package for the SR adds leather seats, a Bose audio system and a power sliding moonroof.

The top of the range for the Sentra is still the SL. It still comes with 17-inch 7-spoke alloy wheels, fog lights, maple wood (simulated) trim, and dual-zone climate control. For 2015, the SL adds standard heated leather front seats, rear disc brakes, and a universal garage door opener.

As always, people shopping for a compact sedan like the Sentra are interested in economy and practicality; this Nissan delivers quite well on both. Equipped with the Xtronic CVT transmission, it will get 29 mpg city/39 highway/33 combined, with the more sparsely equipped Sentra FE+ S delivering 40 mpg on the highway. While its 111 cubic feet of space is more than a Civic or Corolla offers... the Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus do have a bit more.

People familiar with the Sentra will understand their options, and those who are happy with their older one should be satisfied with the 2015 model, with its additional standard features and better list of options. It used to be that the de facto choices in this market were the Civic or the Corolla, but competition has really upped the ante over the last few years, and that includes the Nissan Sentra.

Updated

Since 2012, Andrew Newton has been writing about cars both old and new. Andrew has been an associate editor at Sport Car Digest as well as a contributor to sites like BoldRide and JamesEdition. He was also the Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA before becoming the Auction Editor at Hagerty Classic Car Insurance. He currently splits his time behind the wheel between his NA Miata, 1994 Corvette, and Triumph TR6.

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