It Works as Designed.
We recently spent a week out west with a Nissan Sentra. This wasn’t my first time in a Sentra, but it was the first time I spent a decent amount of time with one. Thankfully we had the opportunity to experience this mainstream model in various situations all while experiencing the west side of our country.
We had a moderately equipped vehicle with the SV package. So though it wasn’t the minimalist version, it wasn’t far above it. In spite of that, it wasn’t bad. It provided all the “necessary” functions and comforts to effectively go from point “a” to point “b” without any hardships.
The Sentra SV continues with a rather attractive design. Upon first sight, the Sentra looked more upscale than you’d expect. This seems to be the trend of a lot of the Asian imports these days. That’s a pretty good thing as the design is the first thing you see as well as the all important “curb appeal”.
The interior was neat and roomy. The surface materials were as expected for this level. But the surfaces did not appear cheap and “hard” like some have the tendency to be. We had a black interior and black dash with brushed chrome type switchgear. All buttons and switched had good tactical feedback adding to the feeling of quality. Our SV version had audio and cruise control switchgear on the steering wheel which we found useful.
The standard cloth seats were comfortable and though they were black they did not absorb heat like you’d think black seats would under the Nevada sun. During our long travels they remained cool and supportive. Seat positioning was typical and satisfactory as was the rear seating with armrest. We had not problem finding a suitable seat position for the long drives we encountered.
The cargo carrying capabilities were also typical for this sized vehicle at 15.1 cubic feet. The power trunk was good sized as was the interior storage compartments. There was not a lot of luggage to be carried this time, but we could tell by the size of the trunk we would have no problem fitting luggage for an entire family.
Given we were new to this particular model there were a couple of instances where we found some of the controls a bit confusing. In our haste, we would routinely open the hood instead of the gas filler door. I guess the inside release for both were too close to each other as well as rather similarly marked. We learned to pay a bit more attention before we pulled a lever.
Nighttime driving was pretty uneventful as expected as well. The headlights illuminated the road as expected and once you got used to where the controls were, they were easy to find in the dark.
One thing that took me a while to adjust was the dash illumination. For better nighttime driving visibility and reduced glare, I typically adjust my mirrors up, down, etc. so the headlights from cars approaching from the read don’t shine directly in my eyes. This is automatically done with the self-dimming inside rearview mirror. But I still find the outside mirrors produce more glare than I particularly like. This makes your eyes adjust and therefore decreases your forward vision on a dark highway.
I also lower the dash illumination quite a bit. It took me a while to find the method for adjusting these lights on the instrument cluster and center stack. But when I found it, the adjustment seemed either fully on or a bit lower. It took me until the return trip to learn that the adjustment was “sequential” and lowered the level each time you pulled the lever as opposed to one set adjustment. With that new bit of knowledge, I was able to find the correct level. I still prefer a rotating wheel for this adjustment, but I adjusted.
The only main observation I have and was the general consensus of the drivers and passengers was though the engine was adequate for saving fuel and for general motoring duties, but needed to be a bit stronger for my likes. Again, it performed as expected given the general tasks and demands placed on it for this type of vehicle. But when trying to merge onto highway traffic the car labored significantly. We learned rather quickly not to jump out in front of oncoming traffic.
Again, for 95% of the uses, this 1.8 liter engine’s output is fine. But for anything aggressive, this is not your vehicle. Maybe it could be the Xtronic CVT® transmission. It just “buzzed” along until it eventually got up to speed. But again, that’s not the market they are targeting.
So in summary, this was a great family midsized sedan. I wouldn’t hesitate it to anyone looking for an economical sedan for family or daily use. The price isn’t bad and is in range for a college student or typical family of three or four. It’s not a “hot-rod” by any means, but it serves its designed purpose.