The 2019 Nissan Sentra is a compact sedan that handles the basics and little more.
When it comes to compact sedans, the 2019 Nissan Sentra is a wallflower. It’s roomy enough for four adults, fuel efficient for its class, and packs just enough features to keep most buyers happy but fails to deliver on driving delight and design. We’ve rated it 4.8 overall as a reflection of its comfort, active safety features, value, but distinct lack of thrills.
For 2019, the Sentra gets a few updates to keep it current, including a new 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility on higher trims, and a new SV Special Edition package that adds worthwhile functional, safety, and convenience features.
The 2019 Sentra is available in S, SV, SR, SR Turbo, SL, and Nismo trims, with the latter adding a plethora of performance features that don’t add up to an especially cohesive experience
A soft suspension, dull steering, underhood muscle that’s the wrong side of adequate, and a droning continuously variable transmission (CVT) add up to an uninspiring driving experience.
Sentra SR Turbo and Nismo provide better acceleration from their turbo-4 engine—188 horsepower versus just 124 hp in other trims—but that’s not backed up by a big improvement in handling tenacity.
The Sentra delivers that new car smell combined with an outdated driving experience.
At least the Sentra has a spacious interior with comfortable seats and surprisingly nice materials in upper trims, but its design is behind the times. No hatchback version is available for added utility.
Standard automatic emergency braking on most trims helps keep the Sentra in line with its chief rivals, namely the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Mazda 3. Fuel economy hovers around the 30 mpg range with the optional (and most popular) CVT.
The 2019 Nissan Sentra neither offends nor excites in the styling department.
The 2019 Nissan Sentra is a victim of its own age in the styling department, failing to stand out among more contemporary rivals.
With hardly exciting (or offensive) looks, we’ve given 4 out of 10 points for styling, both inside and out.
While Nissan’s Maxima and Altima have undergone redesigns with sharp new looks, the Sentra is still a styling generation behind the top-tier trims pack visual flair like LED daytime running lights, rear spoilers, and more.
Overall, the Sentra has a traditional three-box sedan shape which contributes to its roomy interior, which is upright and utilitarian without much fuss or flair. Opting for a more expensive Sentra doesn’t improve the quality of the plastics throughout the cabin, which remain hard and flimsy. The Sentra seems designed precisely to offend no one, and does so admirably.That also means that it fails to excite.
The 2019 Nissan Sentra is better suited as a comfortable commuter than canyon carver, even in high performance form.
The 2019 Nissan Sentra prioritizes fuel economy over performance, even with its higher-powered turbocharged options.
Though the SR Turbo and Nismo offer a more potent powertrain, they’re outmatched even by some less powerful engines from competitors, and the base engine leaves a lot to be desired, warranting 2 points out of 10.
We get there by taking a point back from average for the Sentra’s tepid acceleration, another for a transmission that makes the worst of the situation, yet another for its sloppy handling.
Most 2019 Sentras feature a 1.8-liter inline-4 that makes 124 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque, matched to either a 6-speed manual or continuously variable transmission (CVT). The manual may sound more fun, but it’s too loose to be engaging. Most will saddled with the CVT, which is smooth but sends the engine into sky-high revs that snarl into the cabin and guzzle more fuel.
The SR Turbo and Nismo models make 188 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque from a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, both of which include stiffer springs, sharper steering, and more weight at the wheel.
Still, no version of the Sentra really thrills on a twisty road, and base models are definitely positioned more for comfort.
The base suspension is plush, if not especially well-controlled on a curvy road. The Sentra’s steering is loose and light on precision, although SR Turbo and Nismos handle with considerably more tenacity.
Comfort & Quality
Smart packaging helps the 2019 Nissan Sentra remain one of the most spacious small car options.
The 2019 Nissan Sentra is compact in its footprint but feels mid-size in terms of comfort. Thanks to smart packaging, the Sentra packs more interior space than many of its chief rivals, earning 6 out of 10 on our scale.
Front seat passengers sit a bit higher in the Sentra than its competition, which provides great outward vision. Headroom is generous for both front and rear passengers, even with an optional moonroof intruding into the space. A power driver’s seat is optional.
Out back, passengers get a generous 37.4 inches of legroom and 50.9 inches of hip room, plenty for two adults or even three scrawny teenagers. Big rear doors make for easy entry and exit, and the trunk is spacious at 15.1 cubic feet with a wide rear opening.
Cloth upholstery is the best bet, as the leather on SR and SL models feels too thin. The Sentra remains quiet at highway speeds, though the engine drones under the inevitable heavy acceleration with the CVT.
Though its bones are aging, the 2019 Nissan Sentra boasts has great standard safety features on most trims.
The 2019 Nissan Sentra offers a suite of standard active safety tech on most trims and admirable crash test scores despite its design’s relative age. Those features earned it a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS but a four-star overall score from the NHTSA, so we’ve awarded 5 out of 10 overall.
Every new Sentra includes six airbags and anti-lock brakes. Automatic emergency braking comes on the automatic transmission models far more popular with buyers than the standard manuals, Blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control are available on upper trim levels. There are also some thoughtful features such as an easy-fill tire alert that honks the horn when the tires are properly inflated.
The Sentra also boasts great outward vision thanks to its big windshield and higher seating position, and its child seat anchors earned top marks from the IIHS in testing as well.
The IIHS calls the Sentra a Top Safety Pick when it’s fitted with automatic emergency braking and the LED headlights on higher trims. The standard headlights rate “Poor.”
There’s solid value to be found near the bottom of the 2019 Nissan Sentra lineup.
Though its base price has increased, the 2019 Nissan Sentra offers a respectable level of standard features.
For about $18,700, the base Sentra S includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Bluetooth, automatic headlights, and a rearview camera, good for 6 out of 10 on our scale.
Most buyers will step up to the SV trim, and the Sentra tops out at over $27,000 for a Nismo model with the CVT.
he best value play lies in the middle of the lineup.
The SV trim features a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 16-inch alloys, a six-speaker audio system, and an updated 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. There’s also the option for a Special Edition package that upgrades the wheels and adds rear disc brakes, active safety features like blind-spot monitors, rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control.
SR, SL, SR Turbo, and Nismo trims add some more comforts including leather upholstery and a power-adjustable driver’s seat, not to mention the Nismo’s visual and performance upgrades.
The 2019 Nissan Sentra’s old-school powertrain is better on gas than the spunkier turbo option.
The 2019 Nissan Sentra benefits from its miserly base four cylinder, though things get thirstier with a turbo involved.
Versions equipped with the 1.8-liter inline-4 as standard and the CVT manage 29 mpg city, 37 highway, and 32 combined, good for 6 out of 10 on our scale.
Opting to stick with the 6-speed manual drops those numbers slightly to 27/35/30 mpg, while the 1.8-liter turbo-4 engine manages slightly worse at 27/33/29 mpg even with the automatic.
Nismo models are rated at 25/31/27 mpg and 25/30/27 mpg for the manual and automatic versions, respectively, though it should be noted that all turbo models require premium fuel, driving up costs at the pump.