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2024 Nissan Sentra Road Test and Review

Brady Holt
by Brady Holt
January 11, 2024
2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・ Photo by Brady Holt

These days, it can feel like every new car is frightfully expensive. True, many are. Many consumers are eager to pay up for advanced powertrains, high-end features, and lots of space for passengers and cargo. 

But when you’re looking to keep your costs down, you can consider the 2024 Nissan Sentra. Newly updated this year with revised styling, better gas mileage, and more standard features, this compact sedan shows what you can still get for a sticker price of just above $20,000. For this review, we just spent a week testing the updated 2024 Sentra. Keep reading to find out what we learned and whether it’s the right affordable four-door for you. 

Affordable Pricing

With a base price of $20,630, the 2024 Nissan Sentra is one of the least expensive new cars on the market. And Nissan doesn’t pull off that feat by skimping on amenities. Even the base S model includes a touchscreen infotainment system supporting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, keyless entry with push-button starting, front and rear automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with a rear cross-traffic alert, and a lane-departure warning. 

Most customers will likely upgrade to the SV, however, like our test vehicle. At $21,650, increases the touchscreen from 7 inches to 8 inches, adds two speakers to the stereo (six instead of four), swaps 16-inch steel wheels for alloys, upgrades the rear brakes from drums to discs, and replaces the standard cruise control with adaptive cruise, which slows down automatically to match the speed of traffic. Our test vehicle hit $26,430 by adding the $590 All-Weather Package (automatic climate control; heating for the front seats, mirrors, and steering wheel; and remote engine starting), the $2,520 Premium Package (quilted leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat, a sunroof, an eight-speaker Bose stereo, 17-inch wheels, and a surround-view parking camera), $395 for Scarlet Ember paint, $270 for floor mats, and a $1,095 destination charge. The remaining Sentra trim level is the sport-themed SR, which starts at $23,720 with most of the same features as the SV All-Weather along with 18-inch wheels and some revised interior and exterior styling details. 

2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Freshened Styling

The current-generation Sentra dates to the 2020 model year, but we still think it looks pretty sharp. It’s low and wide for a compact economy sedan, giving it sportier, ground-hugging proportions next to more bubbly rivals (and the previous-generation Sentra). 

We also appreciate that Nissan was able to make the Sentra look special without going overboard with busy styling details. Low, slim headlights merge into a low grille for a front end that’s assertive without being overtly aggressive or flashy. And the fenders are confidently hunched. To some tastes, the Sentra might look like yesterday’s idea of a stylish sedan; newer models tend to have sharper lines and crisper creases. But others will welcome the way it blends simplicity with a confident stance, especially on the sport-themed SR. The 2024 model year has a revised front end with a new grille that moves its chrome trim to the outside edges. We’re not sold on the way this leaves a wider expanse of unadorned black on the grille, but you may prefer this more conventional design. However, we think everyone will like how the new bumper no longer reserves big spaces for fog lights that aren’t included on most models; our test vehicle’s small plastic cutouts look much better than last year’s Sentra. 

Easy Ergonomics

Our Sentra SV with the Premium Package is designed to dazzle with tan quilted leather upholstery on the seats and more tan leather elsewhere on the interior. If you’re looking for a wow factor in an economy sedan, Nissan delivers. 

The rest of the Sentra lineup is offered only with black interiors in a choice of three types of cloth upholstery (one for each Sentra trim level) plus leatherette (an optional upgrade on the SR). On these models, the cabin’s main asset is its user-friendly ergonomics. Even the upgraded infotainment system isn’t big, but it’s easy to use and comes surrounded by simple physical controls. There’s not much flash to the Sentra’s interior (aside from the SV with the Premium Package), but it’s well-finished for the price and avoids frustrating you. Our main complaint is the foot-operated parking brake, which reminds us of an old pickup truck rather than a brand-new sedan. 

2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Reasonably Roomy

The Sentra can fit four adults and squeeze in a fifth, with above-average space for a compact sedan. The front and rear seats are thickly padded and supportive, and adults shouldn’t be too pinched even in the back. Trunk space is above average at 14.3 cubic feet. 

The Sentra’s widely available comfort amenities are even more impressive – notably, the heated front seats and steering wheel that are available on all but the base S model. We did wish for an upgrade to the six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat; most cars with power seats also let you adjust the tilt of the seat cushion, which the Sentra does not. There’s also no five-door hatchback option for additional cargo space and flexibility. 

2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Easy to Drive

If the Sentra’s sporty styling makes you picture it as a rival to the Mazda3 as a fun-focused economy car, don’t get your hopes up. It’s easy to drive, but it isn’t built for exuberant speed. 

Every Sentra, including the SR, has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 149 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque, paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission (or CVT). That’s in line with most competitors’ base engines, but most of them offer optional upgrades on higher trim levels or performance models. The engine is peppy, but it gets noisy quickly as revs rise – which they will often if you don’t drive quite gently. When we pushed the Sentra, we found respectable handling limits, but the numb, slow steering gave us little encouragement to explore them. Even the ride with our test car’s 17-inch wheels wasn’t ultra-plush; it might be a bit better on the 16-inchers included on the S and most SVs. The Sentra doesn’t drive poorly – and, to be clear, the previous-generation Sentra most certainly did! – but it settles for adequacy. And with no selectable sport mode or manually selectable gear ratios, Nissan doesn't even make a nod to auto enthusiasts. 

2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Improved Gas Mileage

Economical gas mileage is a key benefit to an economy car, and Nissan sought to capitalize on that with some upgrades to the 2024 Sentra. An overhauled CVT and a new stop-start system, which can shut off the engine automatically at idle, bring the EPA ratings to 30 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on the highway, and 34 mpg combined on the S and SV, along with 30 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, and 33 mpg combined for the SR. That’s about 1 to 2 mpg better than last year.

We fell just below the EPA estimate to average 33 mpg in our SV test vehicle, which is about the same as the pre-2024 Sentras we've tested. We’ve generally beaten EPA estimates in most competitors, and we’ve even gotten better gas mileage when testing bigger, more powerful mid-size sedans like the Nissan Altima. Also, while a couple of competitors are available with extra-efficient hybrid powertrains, every Sentra relies on gasoline alone.  

2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Five-Star Safety

The Sentra has done well in crash testing, with the 2023 model earning the maximum five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the highest Good scores in most tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It came up short in a new IIHS test for rear-passenger safety in frontal crash tests, and it earned just four out of five stars in NHTSA’s own frontal-impact test, but both groups indicated that the 2024 Sentra may perform better. 

Another notable point is that the Sentra can help you avoid a crash better than most rivals. It’s the only compact sedan with rear automatic braking – a standard feature that’s not even offered on the Sentar’s competitors – or an available surround-view camera. And it’s one of just three compact sedans with standard blind-spot monitoring. 

2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Costlier Competitors

The 2024 Nissan Sentra costs less than nearly all its closest competitors, with only the Kia Forte having a lower starting price. The Forte is a pleasantly anonymous sedan with fewer available features than the Sentra and a much lower score in an IIHS crash test simulating a T-bone collision from an SUV. If you want another compact sedan, prepare to pay more. 

Our favorite car in this class is the Honda Civic. We love its polished ride and handling, exceptional gas mileage, beautifully finished interior, and extra-spacious backseat. But it starts at more than $3,000 above the Sentra. And if you’re dedicated to safety features, Honda makes you spend at least $26,950 to get blind-spot monitoring and $30,550 to add a rear cross-traffic alert. Both come standard on a $20,630 Sentra. If you’d rather have affordable transportation than a phenomenal automobile, other options include the Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Jetta, and Hyundai Elantra. The Sentra has less pizazz than the Hyundai, doesn’t drive as well as the VW, and lacks the Toyota’s or Hyundai’s optional hybrid powertrain. But it undercuts all their prices, especially if you’re interested in certain safety and comfort features. 

2022 Honda Civic ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2022 Honda Civic ・ Photo by Brady Holt

An Undercover Bargain

Attractively styled and thoroughly competent, the 2024 Nissan Sentra doesn’t look or feel like one of the cheapest cars in America. But only three sedans on the market cost less – the Forte and two smaller, less powerful subcompacts. (One of them is Nissan's own Versa.)

The Sentra isn’t our favorite small car to drive. But it provides plenty of desirable features at reasonable prices while avoiding glaring faults. When you prioritize value, comfort, safety, and ease of use over exquisite mechanical sophistication, speedy acceleration, and lots of digital dazzle, check out the Sentra before deciding to pay extra for a rival sedan. 

2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Nissan Sentra SV ・ Photo by Brady Holt


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