2019 Nissan Sentra

Performance


#13 out of 13 in Compact Cars

MSRP
$17,890
U.S. News Best Price Program

2019 Nissan Sentra Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 5.6

The 2019 Nissan Sentra delivers a mostly smooth ride and gets decent fuel economy, making it a good commuting vehicle. However, it's one of the more sluggish cars in the class and arguably the least athletic, regardless of which of the Sentra's two engines you choose. Many rivals are more agile and energetic.

  • Perhaps the best way to look at this sportiest of Sentras is as an alternative to the turbocharged Honda Civic sedans. As such it offers slightly more power (188 horses to 174) and torque (177 lb-ft to 162) and even a slightly better weight-to-power ratio (nominally 16.0 to 16.7 pounds/horsepower). ... All you have to give up in this sweet tradeoff is the vastly superior box the Honda turbo comes in, which was redesigned four years after the Nissan last redid the Sentra." -- Motor Trend (2017)
  • On the road, the Sentra certainly isn't thrilling, but its powertrain is fuel-efficient and generally unobtrusive." -- Edmunds (2016)
  • Competent and predicable on the road, the Sentra is nonetheless not the most engaging compact sedan around; more fun can be had in rivals like the Ford Focus or Mazda Mazda3." -- Left Lane News (2015)

Acceleration and Power

A 130-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission comes standard in the 2019 Sentra. A continuously variable transmission (CVT), which functions like an automatic, is also available (and drops horsepower to 124). This engine is one of the weakest in the class, and you notice the lack of power when you hit the gas. It's unlikely that you'll get passed by any skateboarders, but never say never.

The SR Turbo and Nismo models come with a 188-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder. While this engine delivers considerably more pep than the base powertrain, it still doesn't have the energetic feel of some rival engines.

With the base engine and the CVT, the Sentra gets an EPA-estimated 29 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Many rivals get comparable or better ratings. The turbo-four earns a lower 27/33 mpg city/highway.

  • "One potential drawback is that the Sentra's standard 1.8-liter engine is less powerful than almost everything else in its class. That might not mean much to those who care more about fuel economy than power -- until the need to overtake slower-moving traffic or merge onto a busy freeway arises, in which case the turbo model should be given serious consideration." -- Autotrader
  • "Its base engine is one of the slowest available, and even the optional turbocharged engine lags behind some competitors in terms of outright performance." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "While the little 1.6-liter engine feels peppy once you get into its power band, the CVT simply can't keep up with it. Even in Sport mode, stab the accelerator while rolling and the reaction time of the transmission is noticeably laggy; there's no immediacy of action like there is in the Sentra NISMO's competitors. Trying to drive the Sentra NISMO in cut-and-thrust traffic conditions is frustrating when the car simply doesn't want to be driven in this manner." -- Cars.com (2017)

Handling and Braking

This Nissan is best described as a competent daily driver. It rides smoothly most of the time, though large bumps will make their way into the cabin. It doesn't have the athletic feel of rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and Mazda3, even in SR Turbo and Nismo trims, but the Sentra remains composed on winding roads. Front-wheel drive comes standard.

  • This Nissan just provides comfortable basic transportation highlighted by a relatively quiet, compliant ride. Handling is adequately composed in emergency maneuvers, but the Sentra is all about setting it and forgetting it. If you're simply looking for an affordable sedan that'll get you through the daily commute with minimal fuss, the 2019 Sentra hits most of the right notes." -- Autotrader
  • These turbocharged models are quick and much more fun to drive. However, even in Nismo trim the Sentra's handling is not the best in this class. The Sentra still uses an antiquated rear-suspension design that keeps it from turning corners as well as the Honda Civic, Mazda3 and VW Golf, which are more athletic. The Sentra's steering does feel good, however, and its brakes provide plenty of strong stopping power." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • Ride comfort is a strong suit for the Sentra. Small-but-sharp bumps in city driving are felt in the cabin, but not unbearably so, and the highway ride is smooth and composed." -- Edmunds (2018)
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2019 Nissan Sentra

MSRP: $17,890 - $25,940

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