Top Speed is proud to have been handed the keys to our favorite econobox, the Nissan Sentra, especially when it is the top of the line SL version. Our well-equipped Economy sedan came with leather, a continuously variable automatic transmission, AM/FM/XM radio and some stylish 16 inch inch rims and Bluetooth; quite a bargain at just over $22,000. Gaining entry into the vehicle is facilitated by the Nissan Intelligent key that can remain in your pocket throughout the duration of your commute.
After all, that’s what the Nissan Sentra is all about. Being an affordable and reliable transportation option. This compact four door sedan is the perfect vehicle for new car buyers starting out in the world of automobile ownership. Our Sentra’s simple and modern design redefines what the econobox has to be. One thing is for certain, Nissan has always done a good by their compact sedan and the Sentra SL is no different.
There is nothing special about the Nissan Sentra, now that is not a bad thing, it is just that the Japanese automaker’s compact four door sedan is the 21st century interpretation of the now aerodynamically defined classic three box shape. There are less lines now, much more curves. The headlights and taillights have grown and are now flush with the corners of the body compared to the classic small horizontal rectangles.
Our Arctic Blue Sentra SL’s small size and round lines made it look like an oversized colorful beetle, because the exterior of modern economy cars are based more around saving gas than pleasing the eye, so like many other compacts, our Sentra features a very short hood that almost lines up with the slope of the windshield which leads into a long sloping roof ending in another short overhang. Being the top of the line model, our Sentra FE+ 2.0 SL rode on a rather stylish set of 16 inch rims.
The first thing you notice about the Sentra SL is the soft Charcoal black leather; this is an extremely nice feature for a four door economy car that seats five and sells for just over $22,000. The gauges have the familiar orange Nissan glow. The center stack works, everything is well laid out with the LCD display above the radio with the climate controls underneath, which is made up of three easy to use dials. The shifter placement high up on the center stack is something that we are going to have to get used to with these cars of tomorrow.
Our favorite feature was the budget adjustable cup holder, which could hold small, medium and large containers. It was nothing more than a plastic knob with different sized butterfly wings that you could rotate, this became a source of entertainment while sitting in traffic. The interior of our Sentra SL was terrific, with items like the leather wrapped Multifunction steering wheel. Complete with controls for the radio and the Bluetooth, how much did we say this car is worth again?
Our Nissan Sentra SL handled great, the lightweight chassis is paired nicely with the 2.0 Liter 16 valve four cylinder engine that only makes 140 HP, but that was enough when paired with the fuel saving Xtronic CVT gearbox. This unit lets the internal combustion engine rev up to its most efficient point and holds it at around 5000 RPM letting the transmission continuously adjust in order to make the vehicle accelerate.
The Sentra had plenty of oomph, but it was definitely not blinding performance. However that doesn’t matter as much when you are getting an EPA estimated 34 MPG on the highway and 26 MPG while driving in the city. The CVT unit also has a gas saving alternative over a gas/electric hybrid. The added weight of the electric motors will hurt the lower end of a vehicle’s fuel efficiency rating, the CVT is in place of a normal part, and add nothing extra to the drive train. Overall the Sentra is one solid ride.
Why to Buy:
If you are looking for a practical method of transportation filled with a few creature comforts that go a long way like leather seating and keyless entry and ignition then the Nissan Sentra SL is worth taking a serious look at. The car can seat five comfortably and the luxuries won’t break the bank. You can’t beat our Nissan Sentra 2.0 SL for the money.
Why not to Buy:
The only downside to buying our Sentra is that in order to get leather, you must choose the Xtronic CVT. Now there is nothing wrong with the continuously variable transmission, but for traditional cog swappers, if you want a manual transmission, Nissan will give you a six speed, but you also get cloth.
If you want a full size car, or have a little more life than most you may want to consider a full size sedan. If you just got a promotion and want to treat yourself check out the Nissan Altima Coupe, but other than that there is no reason not to buy a Sentra. Just so that you know, if you want to compare, look at the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Ford Focus.
Top Speed Final Verdict:
The Nissan Sentra 2.0 SL was an all around good car, good looks, good performance and a good price made this a great transportation option. Then again, we didn’t expect anything else from the good old Nissan Sentra, for over two decades the Japanese automaker has been making the basic three box Nissan in some way shape or form.
We couldn’t get over the amount of luxury and comfort that you get for such a reasonable price. Especialy with the SL where you get a gas saving Xtronic CVT, stylish 16 inch aluminum alloy wheels, the convenient Nissan Intelligent Key, Bluetooth hands free telephone system and leather wrapped seats. Theat is a lot of car for under $22,500.