2016 Nissan Sentra Mpg

2016 Nissan Sentra Mpg

It is a widely held belief that, in 2016, there really is no such thing as a “bad” new car. That’s essentially correct, if you define bad cars by disintegrating interior pieces, rusting frames, finicky engines, or exploding gas tanks. True, factory-fresh lemons may have been largely swept away by automotive progress, but that doesn’t mean the auto industry has become a Montessori program. There are good cars and there are not-so-good ones, and the Nissan Sentra is squarely under the bar for acceptable small cars. In today’s continually improving compact-car segment, there’s no room for participation awards, and the Sentra suffers for seeming to exist for no reason beyond giving Nissan a four-door between the subcompact Versa and the mid-size Altima. Nissan last fully redesigned the Sentra for 2013, a lackluster update that we described as “half-baked”—just as its competitors were yanking their small cars sharply upmarket in terms of styling, features, and driving manners. Now, after three years of playing from behind the segment leaders, Nissan has swapped its subpar compact’s mini-Altima styling and crummy dashboard materials for mini-Maxima styling and somewhat less-crummy dash bits. We drove the updated 2016 Sentra earlier this year and found it barely whelming; now, having spent more time in the car and gathered objective test numbers, it’s clear that a smearing of lipstick was not enough to make us want to ask this wallflower to the prom. Let’s Discuss the Good While the whole isn’t something we’d describe as “good,” there are aspects of the Sentra that may appeal to the (mystifyingly) large number of car shoppers who comparison-shop online but don’t take multiple test drives before buying. It has a huge back seat and a similarly spacious trunk, it’s inexpensive—a fully loaded top-spec SL like the one tested here retails for $25,545—and it offers an impressive array of standard and optional features. (Our test car carried adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, heated front seats, leather, a sunroof, navigation, and more.) It isn’t surprising that Nissan sold more than 220,000 Sentras in 2015; the sedan offers so much content at such a low price that it can make anyone second-guess spending the same money on a similar car with less stuff. Yet it’s pretty obvious that the Sentra is little more than a vessel for goodies and pricing. The car feels as low-rent as ever, and cost-cutting is evident in the hollow-sounding hard-plastic door panels, the clunky action of the shift lever, and the chintzy controls for the heated seats. Even the SL’s luxury touches are presented poorly, with the touchscreen head unit and the separate widget for the climate controls jammed into holes in flat, featureless expanses of plastic and inconsistent, single-stitch seams on the seats that, in places, crumple the adjoining slices of leather. It’s as if Nissan expects budget shoppers to just be grateful to get a touchscreen and leather upholstery at this price. Incredibly, the seats are both flat and lumpy, the driver’s seat cushion boasting an odd peak at its center that slides butts to one side or the other with no bolstering to rein things in. And besides the power lumbar adjustment, there’s a permanent, lumbar-support-like bump higher up that jabs your torso at shoulder-blade level. Luckily, the high-mounted seat and the steering column’s limited telescoping range force the driver to hunch forward anyway. It’s an appropriately masochistic perch from which to experience the Sentra’s dynamic envelope, such as it is. Small Car, Retrograde It takes only a brief journey to detect the Sentra’s shortcomings on the road. Nissan stiffened the suspension slightly for 2016, but to little avail beyond nudging the lateral grip around the skidpad to 0.84 g, up from the 0.81 g we recorded in the 2013 model. As before, the chassis is flaccid in terms of body roll and harsh over merely mild road imperfections, while road, tire, and wind noise remain omnipresent despite work done to quiet the car. Push the Sentra hard, and the chassis responds unpredictably; the rear end might go light and heel over disconcertingly, or it might only do a weird shimmy while the front tires wash out. The steering works in that it turns the front wheels, but there’s nothing in the way of feel. Similarly, stepping on the brake pedal does stop the car, but you get no indication of how much braking force you’ve called upon. More important, stopping from 70 mph requires 191 feet, much longer than many cars in the segment and in fact the same distance required by the Mercedes-Benz G550, despite that nearly three-ton SUV being more than twice as heavy as the Nissan. The Sentra’s 1.8-liter engine still employs port fuel injection (many cars in the class now feature power- and efficiency-enhancing direct fuel injection) and makes just 130 horsepower, both of which would have been class-competitive statistics in 1998—although the Sentra itself had a stronger 2.0-liter available in 2012. The growly four-cylinder still teams with a continuously variable automatic transmission (only the base trim level can be had with a six-speed stick), and flooring the gas pedal at any speed nets pained noises and little discernible change in velocity. When the CVT eventually rallies around a new ratio, the engine stays pegged above 5000 rpm, slowly building revs until the computer deems your persistence worthy of a “shift.” At that point the transmission sharply raises the ratio to mimic a slurry upshift in a regular automatic. This powertrain drags the Sentra to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds, slower than the last Sentra SL we tested and everything else in the class save for the milquetoast Toyota Corolla. There is a Sport driving mode that raises both the engine revs and questions about why Nissan fitted a Sport mode. It also lights a dashboard indicator, but we wondered if perhaps another light comes on somewhere in Japan to delight engineers, who might laugh that they’ve fooled another customer. There’s also an Eco mode, which makes the Sentra feel even dimmer by dulling throttle inputs. We did locate our version of a Comfort mode, which we activated by using the door latch and exiting the Sentra. It may seem as if we’re clobbering the Sentra like a slow pitch over home plate, but rarely do we encounter a car so lackluster in execution, performance, styling, and general refinement relative to its competitors. Judged by any measures but price and roominess, the Sentra disappoints, and its failure to move the needle relative to its predecessor while its competitors have moved on has the net effect of making it a worse car. Nissan has the ability to build competitive products—look no further than the Maxima and the Murano—and it shouldn’t take the Sentra’s price-driven sales volume as an indication that it has done well by this car. Here’s hoping its eventual replacement, which is some two to three years in the future, is executed far better. View Photos View Photos
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2016 Nissan Sentra Mpg

Nissan considers the Sentra to be a compact car and the Altima to be a midsize car, but the EPA classifies them both vehicles as midsize. While the Sentra has 6 less cubic feet of passenger capacity than the Altima, it has more legroom for rear-seat passengers. Both Nissans have similarly sized trunks, but the Altima’s is a tad larger. Riding in the Altima is very comfortable, thanks to its ergonomic bucket seats. One downfall to both cars is the distinct lack of standard tech features. From a performance standpoint, the Altima’s base engine is adequate for day-to-day driving, but sometimes it requires putting the pedal to the floor to get the power you need. Like the Sentra, the Altima offers terrific fuel economy with its base engine, at 27 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. There is also an available V6 engine in the Altima that is plenty powerful. Like the Sentra, the Altima earns terrific safety scores. There is a difference of about $5,500 between the Sentra and its pricier, larger sibling. With the Altima, you’re getting much of what the Sentra offers but in a bigger package. If you like the Sentra and don’t mind paying more, the Altima is worth checking out.
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2016 Nissan Sentra Mpg

The Nissan Sentra’s fuel economy is impressive. The base Sentra with the optional CVT earns 29 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Economy on the highway is typical for a compact car, but city mileage is better than most. For even better mileage, check out the Chevy Cruze, which returns 30 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway. Surprisingly, the Nissan Altima achieves better highway fuel economy than the Sentra, offering 39 mpg. In the city, however, it’s a bit lower at 27 mpg.
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2016 Nissan Sentra Mpg

Although we find the Nissan Sentra distressingly mediocre and one of our least favorite compact cars, the model is nonetheless quite popular, with the company moving some 203,500 Sentras in the U.S. last year—enough to rank third among all Nissans behind the Altima and the Rogue. But for enthusiasts—especially those of us who can remember the awesome original Sentra SE-R—it has been a particular disappointment. Now, Nissan looks to be attempting to rectify that situation with the introduction of the new 2017 Sentra SR Turbo. The new Turbo is powered by the Juke’s 1.6-liter direct-injected turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces a robust 188 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 177 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm—64 more horsepower and 52 lb-ft more torque than the 1.8-liter powerplant in the non-turbo 2017 Sentra SR. Even better, as with the Juke, it’s available not only with a continuously variable automatic transmission but with a manual, too. That makes it the only Sentra model other than the stripper S trim level to offer a manual. While it’s not being called SE-R, it does remind us of the original, B13-generation Sentra SE-R from the early 1990s, which was essentially a workaday Sentra coupe with a 140-hp engine and a sprinkling of performance upgrades that earned it four straight years on our 10Best Cars list (1991–1994) and turned it into a sleeper performance car and something of a cult classic. We expect zero-to-60-mph times to drop from the mid-nines to about seven seconds flat, but we won’t know for sure until we strap our test equipment to it, of course. As with the old SE-R models, the SR Turbo’s upgrades are subtle on the outside but thorough under the skin. Based on the SR trim level, the Turbo gets larger front brakes (11.7 inches versus 11.0), a reinforced cowl, front springs that are 10 percent stiffer, and damping that is firmer by 23 percent up front and 50 percent at the rear. The SR Turbo also benefits from revisions to the electrically assisted power steering that are designed to provide better feel on the highway, and both transmissions have been tweaked for SR Turbo duty. The wheels are the same 17-inchers used by the non-turbo model. In addition to the SR standard equipment, the Turbo adds a sunroof. An SR Turbo Premium package adds leather, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and Bose premium audio. While it’s not a full-on performance package that we expect the upcoming Sentra NISMO to be, this is a huge step in the right direction. And for its sub-$23K base price, it appears to represent a reasonably good performance bargain. Could it become worthy of the SE-R’s cult cred? That remains to be seen. But with deliveries starting in October, we won’t have to wait long to find out. View Photos View Photos

2016 Nissan Sentra Mpg

2016 Nissan Sentra Mpg
2016 Nissan Sentra Mpg
2016 Nissan Sentra Mpg

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