When Nissan redesigned the Sentra last year, its goal was to create a compact economy car that looked and felt like a premium midsize sedan. While no mini-Maxima, we do think the Sentra feels very Altima-like, in both the way it drives and pampers its occupants. The refined interior doesn't just look great; it's actually quite functional, providing a big back seat and a spacious trunk. Understanding that today's car buyer is as concerned with high-tech as with high fuel economy, Nissan has equipped the Sentra with all manner of available treats, including the NissanConnect infotainment package that includes features to access Goggle and Pandora, as well as manage text messages.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're more about comfort, style and really good in-car infotainment and navigation, the 2014 Nissan Sentra beats out a number of competitors while still keeping its price low and its fuel consumption even lower.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you like a bit more sports car in your compact, you'll likely be happier with a more powerful performance-oriented compact like the Mazda3, Ford Focus or Dodge Dart.
Nissan tweaks the 2014 Sentra with some revised tuning to its CVT transmission, suspension and steering. New features include lower front-seat storage pockets and an updated NissanConnect with Apps.
Driving the Sentra
Although we think most drivers won't take exception with how the Sentra rides and handles, enthusiasts may disagree. Even with the changes to the electric power steering and stiffened suspension,...
... the 2014 Nissan Sentra just isn't a car that begs to be tossed quickly into tight turns. Those not familiar with the workings of a continuously variable transmission (CVT) will have to relearn the feeling of forward motion, as the gearless transmission doesn't have shift points. What the CVT does do is maximize fuel economy and power, allowing the Sentra to achieve 39 mpg highway (SV) and 40 mpg on the FE+ trim. We like what Nissan has done with the electric power steering and though it's not as nicely weighted as that of the Mazda3, it's a better setup than in the Hyundai Elantra. Seat comfort and distance driving is a perfect matchup in the Sentra, and the ride over most road surfaces is smooth and controlled.
NISSANCONNECT With NIssanConnect Apps, you can use Google to send directions from your laptop to your car, listen to Pandora Internet radio and have your text messages read aloud while driving. You can even send preset replies so you don't have to take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road.
EASY FILL TIRE ALERT Having your tires at the correct pressure is not only the best way to maximize fuel economy; it's a safety issue as well. With Nissan's Easy Fill Tire Alert you simply pump in air until you hear a brief "honk," a signal that the correct tire pressure has been reached.
2014 Nissan Sentra Details
High-quality materials, electroluminescent gauges and a tasteful, contoured design help create what is arguably the finest interior in all of Compactsedanland. The rear-seating area is another inside highlight, offering back-seat drivers more legroom than some of the smaller midsize sedans, along with similarly generous headroom. The theme continues all the way back into one of the category's biggest trunks. The new Sentra is roomy enough, in fact, that it's one of a handful of compact sedans classified as midsize by the EPA.
Softly sculpted sheetmetal, substantial proportions and shiny-object LED headlight accents and taillights all combine to give the 2014 Nissan Sentra class-above parking-lot presence. All models feature a chrome-finish grille, chrome-finish door handles and body-color painted side mirrors, while up-level versions feature alloy wheels, fog lights and side-mirror-integrated turn signals. The sportier-looking but similarly tuned Sentra SR includes a rear spoiler, chrome exhaust-tip finisher, unique 17-inch alloy wheels and other sporty add-ons all around.
The base-model 2014 Nissan Sentra S comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/aux audio system, electroluminescent gauges, power windows, power mirrors, keyless entry, basic cloth seats, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, a 4-way adjustable steering wheel, 16-inch covered steel wheels, and a modern complement of active and passive safety features including six airbags and electronic stability and traction controls. A fully loaded 2014 Nissan Sentra SL includes a moonroof, leather seats (heated fronts), more stylish 17-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control and automatic headlights.
A fully optioned Sentra includes keyless entry and push-button start, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, USB/iPod integration, satellite radio, an 8-speaker Bose audio system and NissanConnect with Navigation featuring a 5.8-inch touch-screen infotainment system with all the Google, Pandora and texting goodness outlined above. The FE+ (S and SV trims) bumps fuel economy up to 40-mpg highway.
Under the Hood
The Sentra's 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine is among the least powerful in the segment, but we can attest that it moves at least two adults up to highway speeds just fine. With four adults, though, highway merging might require a bit more planning. In addition to the CVT there's a 6-speed manual transmission available, but only on the base model and it delivers about 50 fewer miles per tankful. The FE+ grades achieve one more highway mile per gallon with some aerodynamic adds and low-rolling-resistance tires, but it's mostly a marketing ploy (40 mpg is much sexier than 39) and not worth the extra $400. Even if you drove exclusively on the highway, the FE+ package would save you just $50 and 10 gallons per year (at $5/gallon, 15,000 miles/year).
With Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) tags ranging from $16,800 to more than $23,000, the 2014 Nissan Sentra is priced in line with its competitors on a features-per-dollar basis, between the Ford Focus at the high end and the Hyundai Elantra at the low end. Looking ahead, we expect the new Sentra to hold its value better than its predecessor and better than the category average. The 2014 Nissan Sentra shouldn't cost you significantly more or less than its competitors in the long run, but it qualifies as a solid value because it feels like a more substantial, more refined car than many of the others. Remember to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the 2014 Sentra.
"I am retired from the auto business. Sold Toyota and Nissan. Purchased my Nissan Sentra SR in 2013 shortly after they were introduced. The car is leased. I may lease another. Zero problems. Fit and finish are excellent. As good or better than Corolla. Mine is loaded and everything has always worked perfectly. Gas mileage is 32 - 42. Performance is adequate for the class. About the same as my Corolla. Maybe the quietest engine of any car I have ever owned until accelerating hard. Then noisy just like my Corolla. CVT transmission is different and takes a little getting used to. Great looks, great ride, great interior. Buy it!"
"This is my second Sentra. I had a 2007, and I just gave it to my son and bought me a new one. I think the interior is so much better than the Civic, Elantra, Kia, and Corolla. It looks very nice inside and out and drives well. It doesn't have lots of power, but I care more about the quality and MPG."