By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.3
Nissan’s compact Sentra for 2017 continues a 35-year tradition of offering loads of features in a sporty 4-door that is a cut above the typical small sedan. Inside, the Sentra is not all that much smaller than the midsize Altima, and it offers a number of different personalities ranging from economical basic transportation to an amenity-filled mini-luxury car. There’s even a new turbo model for enthusiast-oriented drivers. The 2017 Sentra sedan is up to date on the latest safety features including available adaptive cruise-control and autonomous-braking systems. Pricewise, the Sentra can cost thousands less than Honda Civic, offers more features than the Toyota Corolla and is as roomy inside as the Hyundai Elantra.
The roomy 2017 Nissan Sentra is a compact sedan that can satisfy a wide range of tastes and budgets. You can order it as you like, either bare-bones or fully loaded, and drive away in an economical small car that is also fun to drive.
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Nissan’s 2017 Sentra compact sedan gains a new, 188-horsepower turbocharged trim, not surprisingly dubbed the SR Turbo. Along with a more powerful engine, the SR Turbo brings a sport suspension, bigger brakes and recalibrated steering.
In its most basic form, Nissan’s compact Sentra sedan for 2017 seems more concerned with fuel efficiency and comfort than rapid acceleration and handling. The Sentra is quiet even at...
... speed and the 4-cylinder engine only makes its presence known at full throttle. Unlike more traditional CVTs, Nissan’s variable-ratio transmission features D-Step logic technology that simulates a standard-transmission’s gear changes. We found the Sentra’s suspension firm enough to avoid excessive lean and float, but nowhere near as taut as the Honda Civic, VW Jetta or Mazda3. Of course, if you move up to the sporty SR and SR Turbo, the performance improves measurably, as does the price of entry. SL and SR models offer a premium technology package that includes adaptive cruise control with a low-speed follow function (best used in stop-and-go traffic) as well as collision-avoidance emergency braking.
INTELLIGENT CRUISE CONTROL
Available on the 2017 Nissan Sentra SL and SR trims, Intelligent Cruise Control helps take the stress out of driving in heavy traffic, monitoring the car ahead and adjusting the Sentra’s speed to maintain a safe distance. The system can even bring the car to a complete stop.
EASY FILL TIRE ALERT
The Easy Fill tire alert flashes the hazard lights to let you know the tire is taking air, then honks the horn when you’ve reached the proper pressure. Put in too much air and the hazard lights blink faster.
The Sentra already had one of the nicest interiors in the compact-sedan class, and last year’s upgrade only improved its position. Piano-black accents, better sound deadening, a 5-inch color LED info screen between the main gauges, and an improved audio-system interface keep the 2017 Sentra fresh. But as comfortable as the front seats are, the rear seats are a surprising highlight. There's plenty of room for tall passengers plus a ton of legroom. The trunk is equally huge, and there's a reason why: According to the EPA's classification system, there's so much room in the Sentra that it's actually a midsize.
The 2017 Sentra's exterior styling closely mimics the recently updated Nissan Altima; think of it as "Smalltima" if you like. The headlights and grille treatment are equally dramatic, but avoid making sporty promises the base car can't keep, and SL and SR trim levels feature LED low-beam headlights as well. Nissan’s attractive wheel designs help the Sentra look sleeker than most compacts and are a good match to the car’s smoothly sculpted sheet metal, which manages to hold your attention without being flashy or overdone.
The most basic 2017 Nissan Sentra is the S, and it comes with a 6-speed manual, three driving modes -- Eco, Normal and Sport -- and standard air conditioning. It's also equipped with Bluetooth phone and audio integration, a USB port, keyless entry and truck release, electroluminescent gauges, power windows, power mirrors, cruise control, auto headlights, and an audio system with four speakers. For extra cargo space the rear seatbacks fold in a 60/40 split. On the safety front, all Sentras get a modern complement of active and passive safety features including six airbags and electronic stability and traction controls.
The 2017 Sentra SL is the top dog, but the Sentra SR also comes with the LED low-beam headlights, alloy wheels and keyless ignition, and it can be equipped with the same upgraded audio system that includes an 8-inch screen and navigation. A premium technology package for the SR and SL includes adaptive cruise control and forward emergency braking. The mid-level Sentra SV offers a Driver's Assist package, which adds navigation, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, and SiriusXM traffic.
For 2017 Nissan’s Sentra comes with two engine choices. S, SV, SR and SL use a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder that, with only 130 horsepower, is among the least powerful in the class. The SR Turbo gets a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that bumps output to a more respectable 188 horsepower. The continuously variable automatic transmission works its magic to get the Sentra up to speed with little fuss, and passing power is fine as long as you plan a heartbeat ahead. There is a 6-speed manual transmission available, but only on the base model and the SR Turbo, and it actually hurts fuel economy, rather than helping it.
130 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (124 horsepower w/CA emissions)
128 lb-ft of torque @ 3,600 rpm (125 lb-ft w/CA emissions)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/35 mpg (manual), 29/37 mpg (automatic)
1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
188 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-5,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/32 mpg (manual), 27/33 mpg (automatic)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 Nissan Sentra S with a manual transmission comes with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $17,800, including the $835 destination charge. On the other side of the pricing spectrum, the Sentra SL with the technology package comes out to just under $26,000, which is a pretty solid bargain for a car with adaptive cruise, blind-spot detection and forward-emergency braking. The SR Turbo starts around $22,850. Prices are on the lower side for the segment, undercutting cars like the Honda Civic and Ford Focus, but coming in a bit higher than the Kia Forte. As a long-term prospect, the 2017 Sentra's resale value is about average for the compact-sedan class, but its solidity and refinement make it feel like it's worth more. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the 2017 Sentra.