2021 Nissan Sentra
It came as no surprise that the Nissan Sentra was one of the three finalists for North American Car of The Year this past winter. The award’s jurors found the design to be sharp, the driving experience wonderful, and the safety technology advanced for its class.
Of course, we’re always curious about why some vehicles get these accolades as you do. That is why we were excited to welcome a 2021 Nissan Sentra to experience it for ourselves.
Our initial impressions were very good. It is one of the sharpest sedans in its class. One might say that it looked like a scaled down version of the Altima. You could be right, as there are a lot of design tenets that are shared across all of the Nissan sedan lineup.
The sharp front end sits lower with the grille sharing space with two narrow headlamp units full of LED lighting. A set of fog lamps flank the lower part of the front fascia in our SR tester. The lower body continues to keep its sleek profile, including the “floating” roof design that gives the Sentra a fastback-type look. The trunk lid opens to the bumper, while housing half of the horizontal LED taillamps.
Our SR tester also adds a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, which make this Sentra both sporty and upscale at the same time.
Inside the Sentra is an engaging driver environment full of easy-to-read instrumentation and controls that are also easy to use and good to the touch. The information screen is wide and full of clear and extensive readouts. It is flanked by a clean set of analog dials. The climate controls bridge the center stack and the console, as it flows to a nice, short shifter. A free-standing tablet-like infotainment screen tops the center of the dashboard with circular vents creating the finishing touch.
Seating is swathed with a black leatherette upholstery called Prima-Tex. What makes these seats pop is the orange contrasting stitching that is found elsewhere throughout the cabin. The front seats themselves are very comfortable and supportive. Not to mention that there is plenty of space of plenty of drivers behind the wheel. Rear seat room is a bit tight for tall people, with a lower roofline impeding headroom. Rear legroom is fine.
Open up the trunk to a 14.3 cubic feet space that is expandable with the rear seatbacks folded down. There is a bit of a step-down off the rear bumper for loading larger items, such as suitcases.
There is only one driveline available on the Sentra, and it’s pretty good. The 149-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is connected to an Xtronic continuously variable transmission driving the front wheels. The transmission can “shift” to where it needs to be and does so without a lot of noise from the engine and drama from the entire driveline.
The result is a smooth-running and strong driveline that also returns good fuel economy. In fact, we averaged 32.1 MPG.
As for the driving experience, the ride is a bit on the firm side. However, it does a great job handling rougher road conditions. The Sentra also corners very well and can manage evasive maneuvers with ease. It also exhibited minimal lean and roll in the corners, as well.
We found the steering system on the Sentra very good, with a tight turning radius and great response to the road. On-center feel is strong, and the Lane Departure Warning definitely kept us in check. Steering wheel weight is excellent and instill a lot of control for the driver to command this sedan. We also like the brakes with its great pedal feel and stopping power. We enjoyed solid stops in normal and panic situations.
The 2021 Nissan Sentra comes in three different trim levels, starting with the S model. Pricing for that model starts from $19,460. Our SR tester had the Premium package upgrade, giving us a sticker price of $25,235.
Nissan’s Sentra has always been a competitive sedan. Still, it is up against some tough company, including the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Subaru Impreza, Mazda3, and Volkswagen Jetta.
However, there is something about the Nissan Sentra that we really like. This compact sedan is definitely worth every award it should get. It might not have gotten the big trophy, but we think it is a winner through and through.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors