Ace of Base: 2019 Nissan Sentra S

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

It has come to your author’s attention that this series has not paid one iota of consideration to the Nissan Sentra. Plenty of other cars from the Yokohama-based brand have passed through these cheap seats, but not the Sentra. Let’s correct that oversight right now.

While other brands are scuttling away from small sedans like cockroaches scattering when the lights are turned on, Nissan soldiers on with the segment. This compact car competes with Civic and Corollas but, unlike those models, no hatchback variant is offered here.

The penultimate Sentra wore some strange styling choices, trying to walk the line between its new lot in life as (technically, by interior volume) a midsize sedan and its history as a foil to the Civic Si in its tasty SE-R form. For the current car, introduced back in 2013, its visage is much more in line with big bros Altima and Maxima.

Unlike some of its competition, who reserve a stick shift for expensive trims, Nissan makes the six-speed manual transmission available on the cheapest Sentra. Its 1.8-liter four-banger makes 130 horsepower and a roughly like amount of torque, average for entry-level cars in this segment. Note: those are indeed drum brakes out back, hiding behind 16-inch rubber.

Those sideview mirrors are of the power variety, as one would expect these days, as are the car’s locks and windows. Air conditioning is also standard, along with the likes of cruise control and a tilt/telescope wheel. Your chairs are cloth covered and manually adjusted at this price. The rear bench does fold in a 60/40 split, expanding on the already large 15.1 cubic feet of space.

Infotainment wasn’t Nissan’s banner feature when this car appeared five years ago and it continues to show its age. Bluetooth is present and accounted for in that 7-inch touchscreen, however, plus alleged hands-free text messaging. I say “alleged” because a good friend has a Sentra much like this one and cannot command her car to transcribe text messages for love nor money. Carplay doesn’t appear until zootier trims.

Sitting on dealer lots with a sticker of just $17,890, the Sentra represents a solid but often overlooked value, especially considering its competition routinely trades for thousands more. Given that price differential, one could jazz up their Sentra with $145 dual USB ports for rear seat passengers and a $365 decklid spoiler while remaining money-in-the-bank compared to others in its class.

[Images: Nissan]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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2 of 40 comments
  • Fuzzbutt61 Fuzzbutt61 on Sep 26, 2019

    After reading many of the Nissan Sentra comments I am surprised by the degree of negativity. I purchased a 2017 Sentra S, 6 MT in April of 2017 and it just rolled over the 150,000 km mark. It consistently gets 650 km on 40 litres of fuel and has not had a single mechanical issue. I bought the car as a commuter and it does what it is suppose to do and with a much lower purchase price, mine was under 16,000 CDN. It is not a sports car or a luxury car so don't expect it to be. The one issue, and this may be a Canadian issue, you cannot get A/C with a manual transmission. In closing, I would gladly replace my Sentra for another one in about 30,000 more kms.

  • Akear Akear on Sep 28, 2019

    It is better than any compact car GM has produced in the America.

  • Doug brockman There will be many many people living in apartments without dedicated charging facilities in future who will need personal vehicles to get to work and school and for whom mass transit will be an annoying inconvenience
  • Jeff Self driving cars are not ready for prime time.
  • Lichtronamo Watch as the non-us based automakers shift more production to Mexico in the future.
  • 28-Cars-Later " Electrek recently dug around in Tesla’s online parts catalog and found that the windshield costs a whopping $1,900 to replace.To be fair, that’s around what a Mercedes S-Class or Rivian windshield costs, but the Tesla’s glass is unique because of its shape. It’s also worth noting that most insurance plans have glass replacement options that can make the repair a low- or zero-cost issue. "Now I understand why my insurance is so high despite no claims for years and about 7,500 annual miles between three cars.
  • AMcA My theory is that that when the Big 3 gave away the store to the UAW in the last contract, there was a side deal in which the UAW promised to go after the non-organized transplant plants. Even the UAW understands that if the wage differential gets too high it's gonna kill the golden goose.