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Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace.

2024 Nissan Sentra SR review

2024 Nissan Sentra SR front right
Mark Savage
Savage On wheels
2024 Nissan Sentra SR front right

I’m going to tell you a secret, actually two, that you’ll never see on the internet, in print or even on a streaming service.

1. Cars are more fun to drive than trucks, SUVs and crossovers.

2. Cars cost less.

Looking for a bargain to slip into your garage, carport or apartment’s parking slot? Shop for a car. They have become the lost children of the auto world. Thank goodness Nissan, along with a few other brave foreign automakers, still make cars.

What’s got me all stoked up this week?

You won’t believe it, Nissan’s 2024 Sentra, a compact sedan with slick styling, a spectacular two-tone paint job and a sticker that starts in the mid-$20,000 range. Actually, a base Sentra S starts even lower at just $21,745. Heck, even the well-equipped mid-level SV trim lists at just $22,675, including delivery. And you thought nothing started at less than $30 grand.

But wait, there’s more … even the tested SR trim, the bees’ knees, the cat’s pajamas, and any other antiquated metaphor you can think of , comes with everything a modern family of four could want, including style and lists for just $24,835.

Now folks may say ol’ Savage has gone soft in the head and is such a cheapskate that price alone gets his juices flowing. Not so fast, buster.

Sentra looks great with a sleek roofline that flows smoothly into the trunk. It’s handsome and svelte with new thinner head and taillights. Add the test car’s eye-popping Monarch Orange paint scheme with black roof ($645 extra and worth it) and you’ll never again walk into a parking lot and wonder where your car is parked. This color screams, but in a good way.

The power, ride and handling are all family car fine. In fact, the handling is quick enough to create a little fun as one zips into and out of corners. The ride, too, is decent, although there can be some jiggles, as the 106-inch wheelbase and fine rear multi-link suspension help steady the ride.

Power is what many car reviewers seem to find lacking here, but at 149 horsepower with a 146 torque rating, this 2.0-liter I4 is smooth and well mated to the new automatic CVT. Besides, the car weighs just a bit more than 3,000 pounds. It doesn’t need 200 horses.

Need power for the freeway? Well sure, there’s some grumble upon hard acceleration. But once to cruising speed, things calm down and the interior is pretty quiet with minimal road noise.

Nissan also says that this upgraded transmission helps save fuel and I can’t argue. The EPA rates this SR model at 28 mpg city and 37 highway. I managed 31 mpg in a mix of the two and must admit, I probably punch the accelerator a bit harder than your Aunt Tess. One other thing: Nissan has added a Stop/Start feature also aimed at easing fuel consumption. Most new vehicles have this now.

*See a cool Nissan Figaro Car Spot*: http://savageonwheels.com/2023/10/06car-spot-1991-nissan-figaro/

Note too that the Sentra touts several driving aids to improve its ride and handling. One is called Intelligent Trace Control that aids the Nissan in cornering by slowing the inside wheel in a turn as needed to facilitate a smoother, more precise turn. Second is Active Ride Control where a computer (cars have many now) automatically adjusts braking and acceleration for a better ride.

Safety is well represented too with Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 now including rear automatic braking, rear cross-traffic alert, a blind-spot warning in the mirrors and both front accident warning and braking. The net result is a five-star crash test rating.

Inside, I love the elegant simplicity of the interior and dash. It’s so easy to see and use all the features.

The tested SR included a $2,490 Premium Package to upgrade the seats to Nissan’s fine Prima-Tex fake leather that looks good and will weather well. The black interior here being highlighted by a redish-orange stitching that gave the seats visual depth and separation from the black dash, which along with the console and door armrests are covered in a soft leather-like material.

Cheap, hard plastic is disappearing from all car interiors, thankfully, and Nissan spiffs this up with matte silver trim around the air vents and controls along with a touch of fake black carbon fiber by the driver’s instrument binnacle and atop the doors. Another bonus is the leather-covered steering wheel is flat-bottomed creating more knee room when entering and exiting Sentra; a boon for us shorter drivers.

Naturally, that wheel is a manual tilt/telescope model.

The dash and console controls and buttons are easy to use and Nissan’s seven-inch info screen quite crisp and simple to read and adjust. Mazda could take notes.

The seats are not only well covered, but well-shaped. Nissan calls these Zero Gravity seats as supposedly they’ve been based off a NASA design. I wouldn’t say one floats in these, but they are quite comfy for a value-priced car as one could take longer trips and not feel punished. The driver’s seat, thanks to that Premium package also is six-way powered with a power lumbar support.

For 2024, the SR’s seats come standard heated, while the Premium package adds a heated steering wheel, a must-have feature for Wisconsin winters.

Head and legroom are good in the front and rear for four average size adults. And the trunk is huge at nearly 15 cubic feet, naturally with split and fold-down rear seats.

Overhead, there’s a small sunroof which is also part of the Premium package, that also adds a 360-degree monitor, Sirius radio, a WiFi hotspot, dual illuminated visor mirrors and a fine Bose audio system with eight speakers.

For the record, the SR includes the restyled lights, heated seats, 18-inch alloy wheels and the stop/start system. It also includes rear disc brakes which become standard on the SV trim. SV also has 6 speakers instead of the four in the S, but more importantly, adds smart cruise and a dual climate system that also are standard on SR.

All Sentras include standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay adaptability.

Two minor items missing, a navigation system and wireless charger. But there are plug-ins in the console for a phone so one can charge and also run a nav system on a phone, which most of us do nowadays anyway.

While cars are rare and compact cars nearly an endangered species, the Sentra still has competitors from the automakers not abandoning the car market. Some prime ones are the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte and Mazda3. Sentra looks better than some, rides better than some and costs less than most. Only the Mazda3 is more nimble and fun to drive.

Bottom line? This Sentra SR checks in at an impressive $28,240, only adding the Premium package, floor mats and special paint. In a world where $45,000 is now the average new car price there’s no other way to regard Sentra than it being a steal, if you can live without it being a crossover. I could!

FAST STATS: 2024 Nissan Sentra SR

Hits: Handsome low-cost family sedan with quick handling, adequate acceleration, decent ride, and good gas mileage. Seats four comfortably, heated well shaped front seats, heated D-shaped steering wheel, push-button start, easy to use info screen, sunroof, and Bose sound system. Great safety features standard, plus a 360-degree camera, big trunk and standard Android Auto/Apple CarPlay.

Misses: Ride can be a bit jiggly, but not severe, engine a bit growly at high revs, and no nav system or wireless charger.

Made in: Mexico

Engine: 2.0-liter I4, 149 hp/146 torque

Transmission: Xtronic CVT automatic

Weight: 3,084 lbs.

Wheelbase: 106.6 in.

Length: 182.9 in.

Cargo: 14.3 cu.ft.

MPG: 28/37

MPG: 31.0 (tested)

Base Price: $24,835 (includes delivery)

Invoice: N.A.

Major Options:

Premium package (Bose audio w/8 speakers & amp, Prima-Tex bucket seats, heated steering wheel, Nissan Connect services w/WiFi hotspot, Sirius, dual illuminated sun visor mirrors, 360-degree monitor, power moonroof, 6-way power driver’s seat and lumbar support), $2,490

2-tone paint (Monarch orange w/black roof), $645

Carpeted floor/cargo mats, $270

Test vehicle: $28,240

Sources: Nissan, www.kbb.com

Mark Savage writes the auto review column, Savage On Wheels, for WUWM (formerly for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and Savageonwheels.com. He is the former executive editor of American Snowmobiler magazine and FineScale Modeler magazine, both part of Kalmbach Media in Waukesha.
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