2010 Nissan Sentra 2.0
2010 Nissan Sentra 2.0. Click image to enlarge

Related articles on Autos
Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Nissan Sentra
Buyer’s Guide: 2009 Nissan Sentra
Day-by-Day Review: 2010 Nissan Sentra
Used Cars: Nissan Sentra, 2001-2006

Manufacturer’s web site
Nissan Canada

Join Autos’s Facebook group
Follow Autos on Twitter

Review and photos by Chris Chase

Find this vehicle in Autos’s Classified Ads

Photo Gallery:
2010 Nissan Sentra

Ottawa, Ontario – The last time the Nissan Sentra was redesigned was 2007, when it was launched alongside the company’s then-new entry level Versa. The Versa is interesting for the way it competes price-wise with subcompacts while offering interior space and a drive more like a compact car. If you ask me, it renders the larger Sentra redundant. However, through the end of November 2009, Nissan sold about two-thirds as many Sentras as it did Versas, so someone out there likes Nissan’s compact sedan.

2010 Nissan Sentra 2.0
2010 Nissan Sentra 2.0. Click image to enlarge

Like it or not, the Sentra was due for what the industry calls a “mid-cycle makeover,” wherein a few changes are made in order to freshen up an aging model until its next full redesign. In the Sentra’s case, the update is fairly minor, bringing new front-end styling, lighter-coloured beige interior cloth, white gauge illumination (it used to be orange) and new HVAC system knobs. In addition, stability control is now an option, where it wasn’t available at all in 2009.

The Sentra’s dirty bits are unchanged from 2009: 2.0 (base), 2.0 S and 2.0 SL models use a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that makes 140 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque. There are two higher-performing models – the SE-R and Spec V – that get a 2.5-litre engine tuned for 177 hp/172 lb-ft in the SE-R and 200 hp/180 lb-ft in Spec V trim. Transmission choices are a six-speed manual in base and S trims, or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that’s optional in those models and standard in the SL. The SE-R gets a “sport-tuned” CVT, while the Spec V can only be had with a close-ratio six-speed manual.

My tester was a basic Sentra 2.0 model, which comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, anti-lock brakes and six airbags for $15,198. It had the $1,450 Value Option Package, which adds power and heated body-colour outside mirrors, power windows, keyless entry, air conditioning, a 60/40 split folding rear seat, upgraded front speakers, rear centre armrest with cup holders and a chrome trunklid garnish. Also extra was the $1,300 continuously variable (automatic) transmission (CVT), and the Carmine Red paint is a $135 addition, for a $19,408 total, including freight.

2010 Nissan Sentra 2.0
2010 Nissan Sentra 2.0. Click image to enlarge

What my tester didn’t have was Nissan’s Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) stability and traction control system, which is another $300 and can only be added if you choose the Value Option Package first. VDC is also extra in the mid-range 2.0 S model, where it’s bundled into the $2,500 Luxury Package; only the $23,098 SL model gets VDC as standard.

So, a minor update indeed to a car that never did inspire much excitement in its looks or its performance. The Sentra’s moves are laid-back at best, with a soft and comfortable ride that feels better suited to a Buick than a Japanese compact. The electric power steering is nicely weighted, but doesn’t transmit much road feel to the steering wheel rim. The brakes, however, are perfect, with a firm pedal that inspires confidence in hard braking, without any of the grabbiness that so many carmakers seem to have trouble engineering out. The Sentra’s handling is as relaxed as its ride, which is to say that hard cornering isn’t what it does best. You want body roll? You got it, and the high seating position only accentuates it.

Connect with Autos.ca