2024 Nissan Sentra Review and Test Drive (2024)

Nissan's compact sedan is heavy on value, light on compromise.

2024 Nissan Sentra Review and Test Drive (8)Thom Blackett

QuickTakes:

  • 2024 Nissan Sentra: What's new
  • 2024 Nissan Sentra: The drive
  • 2024 Nissan Sentra: The design
  • 2024 Nissan Sentra: Competitors

One of the more obvious perks of my job is access to powerful, capable, stylish, and luxurious cars, trucks, and SUVs. While the 2024 Nissan Sentra SR might not seem as though it belongs in any of those categories, my test drive was a pleasant — even enjoyable — surprise.

Larger than the Nissan Versa and smaller than the Nissan Altima, the 2024 Sentra is a five-passenger compact sedan that competes with popular models such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. This year, Nissan has massaged the Sentra's styling and upgraded the transmission.

Ultimately, those changes aren't transformative, which is fine. More than the affordable economy car I'd anticipated, the Sentra emerged as a vehicle I'd recommend.

2024 Nissan Sentra Review and Test Drive (9)Thom Blackett

A New Transmission Promises Improved Fuel Economy

My Sentra SR test car arrived with a Premium Package, two-tone paint, and carpeted floor mats. As equipped, the price of my pre-production vehicle was $27,825, including a $1,095 destination charge to ship it from the Aguascalientes, Mexico, factory that builds it.

Nissan offers the 2024 Sentra in S, SV, and SR varieties with prices starting in the low to mid-$20,000s. All share the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 149 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. Unlike some of its competitors, the Sentra does not utilize a turbocharger and is not available with any sort of hybrid technology.

An Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is new for 2024 and delivers output to the front wheels. (All-wheel drive is unavailable.) According to Nissan, this transmission provides smoother shifts and better fuel economy than the CVT it replaces, thanks partly to the Sentra's standard engine idle-stop function. The Sentra S and SV EPA fuel-economy ratings are 30/40/34 mpg in city/highway/combined driving, with the SR trailing slightly behind at 30/38/33 mpg.

2024 Nissan Sentra Review and Test Drive (10)Thom Blackett

The Sentra Offers a Surprisingly Engaging Drive Experience

I've driven older Sentras, and I didn't notice any marked change in the CVT's responsiveness despite Nissan's improvement claims. If you're unfamiliar with this transmission type: It uses a belt instead of individual gears the way a traditional automatic does. Under hard acceleration, it may sound like the engine is racing while the car is not moving at a commensurate pace.

Indeed, that's the sensation I experienced in the SR. With the gas pedal planted against the floor, I enjoyed the refined sound of a high-revving four-cylinder but felt I should be building speed more quickly. I adjusted my driving style and eventually discovered the Sentra accelerated best when I gradually pressed the throttle instead of stomping on it. Without a stopwatch, I can't say if that result was real or perceived.

2024 Nissan Sentra Review and Test Drive (11)Thom Blackett

Regardless, the Sentra SR never felt underpowered or caused me any concern when merging onto the highway or darting into a line of fast-moving traffic. The powertrain is unremarkable on its own, but when paired with the Sentra's chassis, I found it more engaging than I expected from one of the least expensive cars on sale today.

My test drive covered hundreds of miles, from Interstate 95 to the sometimes patchy back roads that took me to Lake Umbagog on the Maine-New Hampshire border. The plow trucks had recently worsened the road conditions due to a late-spring snowstorm.

2024 Nissan Sentra Review and Test Drive (12)Thom Blackett

Still, the route allowed me to appreciate the Sentra's compliant ride, where the jarring thumps of rough pavement were well isolated from the cabin. I expected to hear more noise and feel more impact through the steering wheel.

I also expected the Sentra to lose its composure as I hustled it along those roads during spurts of spirited driving. There was noticeable body lean when tackling bumpy curves at higher speeds, but this little sedan remained so settled that I felt comfortable pushing it harder. My one wish was for the heavy steering to deliver more feedback from the road.

Still, it's probably safe to assume the majority of 2024 Sentras will rack up most of their miles from driving around town and commuting on the highway, where the vehicle excels. That's important, but knowing the car can also deliver a degree of fun on twisty roads certainly doesn't hurt. Perhaps most impressive, my test car averaged 38 mpg despite liberal use of the gas pedal.

2024 Nissan Sentra Review and Test Drive (13)Thom Blackett

Minor Styling Revisions Round Out the 2024 Nissan Sentra's Changes

In addition to the new transmission, Nissan made a few styling changes to its 2024 Sentra, but you'll need a sharp eye to recognize them. They only became apparent when I compared my test car with images of a 2023 model. Then, I noticed subtle revisions to the headlights, grille, and bumpers.

These tweaks give the Sentra a more polished, streamlined appearance, especially up front, where last year's exaggerated angles are toned down.

The SR gets a few enhancements, including a new set of 18-inch alloy wheels, dark chrome exterior accents, and bright red SR badges on the grille and trunk lid. Collectively, these suggest this top-of-the-line variant is sportier than its counterparts, though S, SV, and SR models come with identical powertrains and suspension components. However, the S and SV have smaller 16-inch wheels.

The 2024 Sentra Faces Tough Competition in a Shrinking Segment

While interest in sedans wanes and the segment shrinks, Nissan still faces strong rivals. This year's updates don't make the 2024 Sentra SR more competitive, but my week with this affordable four-door proved enjoyable.

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The Sentra's competitors, however, are also worth a look. They include the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, and Toyota Corolla. All are priced similarly, are well equipped, deliver excellent fuel economy, and provide comparable interior and cargo space.

More importantly, there are differences in safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has named the Elantra a 2024 Top Safety Pick, while the 2024 Civic and Corolla models were named 2023 Top Safety Picks. The 2024 Sentra has yet to earn either designation.

Nissan provided the vehicle for this 2024 Sentra review.

Written by humans.
Edited by humans.

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2024 Nissan Sentra Review and Test Drive (15)

Thom Blackett

Everyone needs a few things to be passionate about in life. For me, cars are near the top of the list. I’m constantly searching the classifieds for that bargain-priced, one-owner Datsun 240Z barn find. I’m always up for seemingly endless conversations about the cars we wish our parents had kept, the benefits of EVs versus the lure of a thumping V8, or which reliable crossover SUV best suits your family and your dogs. Needless to say, I feel fortunate to spend my work hours analyzing vehicle data, test-driving the latest all-new or updated models, and sharing the knowledge and insights I’ve gained with readers.

2024 Nissan Sentra Review and Test Drive (2024)
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