2015 Nissan Sentra 001
Now that the 2015 Nissan Sentra passes muster in terms of occupant protection in a collision, having earned a “Top Safety Pick” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) this year, it makes my recommended list of small cars. You see, this isn’t really a small car even if it is priced like one, so in addition to safety, the Sentra’s game includes practicality and value.
Recognizing this, I asked for a Sentra when renting a car during a summer visit to the East Coast. I knew it would be safe for my family. I knew it had comfortable front seats and a huge back seat. I knew it could easily swallow our luggage in its enormous trunk. I knew it would get amazing gas mileage.
When it comes to Nissan’s mainstream models, excitement is no longer a part of the recipe. This, by the way, is just fine. I mean, this approach is no way to get car enthusiasts to recommend a Sentra, but lots of people don’t give a crap about having fun behind the steering wheel. They want to get from Point A to Point B, they want to arrive safely, and they want to spend as little money as is possible while doing so.
The 2015 Sentra is perfect for that kind of car buyer, the type of person who views vehicle ownership as an unfortunate and unavoidable necessity, and who are looking for the greatest bang with the expenditure of every buck. Plus, thanks to its roomy interior, comfortable seats, big 15.1 cu.-ft. trunk, and the expansion of useful standard features across the 2015 Sentra line, this car has a certain mojo that’s sure to surprise and delight shoppers of cars in its price range.
Dynamically, though, the Sentra lacks soul. A 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine . . . well, the word is toils beneath the hood, begrudging in its muster of the 130 horsepower that’s sent to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Like most CVTs, this one drones endlessly when you stomp on the go-pedal, trying to coax sufficient acceleration to make freeway merging or passing less of an adventure.
When you’re easy on the gas, you can expect to get 29 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA. Over the course of more than 1,700 miles of mainly highway traveling, our Sentra SV rental returned 36.9 mpg.
While the Sentra’s suspension tuning is on the firm and communicative side, the SV model’s modest 16-inch tires and lifeless electric steering encourage a conservative approach to cornering. Don’t worry. Nothing about driving a Sentra inspires you to explore its capabilities in the first place.
My Sentra SV had a height-adjustable driver’s seat, providing a commanding view of the road ahead and making it easier to get into and out of the car. Though Nissan does not employ its “Zero Gravity” seat design philosophy in the Sentra, the front chairs proved comfortable for hours at a time. Children and adults alike will find the Sentra’s back seat accommodating, as it proves roomier than most of this car’s competitors.
Comfort and spaciousness are key reasons to consider a Sentra. In fact, you could probably downgrade from a midsize car and find that this alleged “compact car” could serve the needs of a family, with few exceptions.
Changes for 2015 mean that even the affordable Sentra SV is equipped with a reversing camera and a NissanConnect infotainment system with a 5-inch touchscreen display and a USB connection. Pairing a smartphone to the system is easy, and during our trip, with a smartphone physically connected using a USB cable, we ran remarkably accurate instructions from Google Maps through the car’s stereo speakers.
Considering that a Sentra SV is priced at $19,125 (including the $825 destination charge), and given the level of equipment and practicality the price includes, this Nissan is a genuine bargain. Plus, Nissan is almost always offering rebates or low-interest financing for this car, making the Sentra an unmitigated value.
It might not be the most exciting car you can buy, but when you’re trying to maximize practicality while minimizing monthly payments, a 2015 Nissan Sentra simply makes sense.