2015 Nissan Sentra SV review notes: Underwhelming family sedan


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With a CVT of the worst sort and nasty dash rattle, the Sentra SV belongs in a rental fleet

DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: The Sentra and I didn’t get off on the right foot.

I was supposed to pick the car up at the airport — at 6 a.m. after a redeye from Portland to Detroit. I got in on time and the car was sitting in the off-airport lot, but the keys were nowhere to be found. An hour later (which feels like about 10 hours when you’re standing in the predawn light after 90 minutes of restless, upright dozing on a 737) we had things sorted and I was on my way, but it’s fair to say my mindset wasn’t predisposed toward the Sentra at that point.

Thing is, after two full days of driving the Sentra SV, I never grew to like the little sedan. At an MSRP under $20K, one can’t expect miracles, but one can get a fun-to-drive vehicle — spoiler alert: this isn’t one of them. Just when I finally decide CVTs have gotten good enough to live with, Nissan throws us one that truly sucks; it’s droning at best and flat-out weird at worst, like when it completely cuts power while the driver is feathering back on the accelerator, forcing him or her to stomp on the gas again just to maintian momentum.

Nissan does offer a spacious cabin with decent materials quality in the Sentra SV, and there’s excellent isolation from wind and road noise — that said, I never did isolate the source of the nasty rattle that emanated from somewhere deep in the center dash on our tester.

Otherwise, the Sentra SV is pure rental-car grade transportation, down to the plastic wheel covers and cloth seats; the new-car smell doesn’t make up for what it lacks in personality and/or presence. The Honda Fit and HR-V both offer more entertaining driving dynamics for roughly the same price, while the new Scion iM stands out as a much more refined driver, again, for about the same money. 

Photo: 2015 Nissan Sentra SV Photo 9

2015 Nissan Sentra SV Photo by Nissan

ASSOCIATE EDITOR WESLEY WREN: Unlike Andy, my experience with the Sentra didn’t start out that bad, and was actually pretty alright. I was initially impressed by the nav and the XM radio, as well as the entire feel of the car. The car felt like a nice budget family sedan — which would make sense, considering that’s what Nissan was going for.

Driving the Sentra was underwhelming. Strike that; the car didn’t even have enough whelm to leave any positive memories. It was powerful enough, and alright on gas, but the CVT was really subpar feeling. But the problems didn’t end there.

The nav that I was impressed by initially turned out to be less than stellar. I took the Sentra around Detroit on a mission of exploration and was somewhat reliant on the Sentra to reel me back in if I got lost — which I did and it didn’t. A strange and frustrating part of that navigation unit is that you can’t pick alternate routes.

This isn’t a bad car, but it isn’t exactly a good car, either.

Photo: 2015 Nissan Sentra SV Photo 4

2015 Nissan Sentra SV Photo by Nissan

Options: Navigation package, including NissanConnect with navigation and mobile apps, 5.8-inch color touchscreen display, Nissan voice recognition for audio and navigation, SiriusXM traffic and SiriusXM travel link ($720)



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