In last year’s comparison test of 11 compact cars, we concluded that the Nissan Sentra is not particularly exciting to drive or stylish to look at but does offer above-average value-for-money, fuel economy, roominess, trunk space and passenger comfort. And though we didn’t like the performance of the 2013 Sentra’s optional continuously variable transmission (CVT), a subsequent road test of the 2014 Nissan Sentra SL with its new Xtronic CVT with D-Step tuning (shifts more like a conventional automatic) showed it to be considerably more responsive and quieter.
Now into its third year since its redesign, the 2015 Nissan Sentra sedan continues to offer an unpretentious blend of roominess, comfort, practicality and value-for-money along with some new standard and optional features – with a corresponding bump in price for each trim level.
The base 2015 Sentra S model adds standard Bluetooth hands-free phone system, USB and iPod connectivity and steering wheel–mounted controls for audio and cruise. The starting price of the S increases by $500 to $15,598. The only option available on the S is the CVT, which comes as a package with air conditioning for $3,300.
For 2015, the popular Sentra SV trim (the subject of this Test Drive) adds standard 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, Bluetooth wireless audio, larger 5-inch colour monitor (from 4.3-inch), rearview camera, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and tire pressure monitoring system. With the standard six-speed manual transmission, the price rises by $800 to $18,698.
The 2015 Sentra SR now comes standard with the previously optional SR Premium Package that includes rear disc brakes, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, keyless entry and push-button start, six-speaker audio system with five-inch colour monitor, optional satellite radio, NissanConnect mobile apps, and hands-free text messaging assistant. The price of the SR rises by $2,300 to $23,398.
The top-of-the-line Sentra SL remains basically the same, rising by $200 to $24,398.
Our test car was a Sentra SV with the standard six-speed manual transmission and an as-tested price of just over $20,000 including Freight and PDI. Considering its level of standard equipment, this is an excellent value. In addition to the above-mentioned standard features, the SV includes standard air conditioning, AM/FM/CD player with 6 speakers, USB/auxiliary ports, 12-volt outlet, keyless entry and push-button start, premium cloth seats, height adjustable driver’s seat, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, 60/40 folding rear seatbacks, power windows and door locks, alarm, and sliding centre armrest.
As before, motivation comes from Nissan’s standard 130-hp 1.8L four-cylinder engine that makes a modest 130 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque. That’s sufficient for most daily needs, particularly when teamed with the standard six-speed manual transmission, but with five people on board, the engine struggles a bit if a sudden burst of speed is required.