If you’re shopping for a new compact sedan, there are many solid options on the market. It’s just a matter of determining your needs. Do you want something with engaging driving dynamics and the latest safety and tech features? Or are you working with a budget? If you’re on a budget, a sedan like the 2021 Nissan Sentra might be what you’re looking for. What does the Sentra offer? Is it the next new car for you?
The 2021 Nissan Sentra
For those on a budget, the first thing to note about the new Sentra is the slight price increase. According to Motor Trend, the 2021 models start at $20,335, which is $100 more than last year. But for that, you’re getting Android Auto and Apple CarPlay standard, where they used to be available only with the two higher trims.
The 2021 Nissan Sentra has an edgy look for a compact car in its price range. And the interior is just as appealing in the second-smallest sedan Nissan offers. It feels more grown-up than the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla.
The Sentra was completely redesigned in 2020, so there were just a few updates this year. In addition to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the SR trim level gets NissanConnect Services and a Wi-Fi hotspot. NissanConnect Services allows drivers to request emergency services through a mobile app. The car also gets a new dual-tone paint option in metallic blue with a black roof.
Under the hood, the Sentra still has the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that gets 149 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque. That’s paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) for a powertrain that Car and Driver calls noisy and slow. It’s a better engine than Sentra’s previous generation, and upgraded models get 188 hp.
Where the 2021 Sentra falls short
Motor Trend’s reviewers explain that although the Sentra looks edgy and fun, it doesn’t drive that way. They found the 4-cylinder engine in the base model lethargic. They thought the ride of the top-shelf SR model was choppy. It’s comfortable, stylish, safe, and will get you where you need to go. But athletic? No.
The reviewers at Car and Driver echoed those sentiments. They found the steering predictable and weighty. They also thought the steering wasn’t as responsive as that of the latest Civic or Mazda 3.
According to Car and Driver, the Sentra offers an independent rear suspension with wheel sizes from 16 to 18 inches. The result is a quality ride, though it’s very firm and noisy. But it’s also comfortable, and the reviewers felt it’s more than adequate for daily driving and weekend trips.
Also, Car and Driver liked the latest Sentra’s braking system and found it had good stopping power.
A good car for buyers on a budget
At the end of the day, if you want an engaging compact sedan and can afford it, you might want to opt for the latest Honda Civic or Mazda 3. Both competitors offer more exciting driving dynamics.
Still, the Nissan Sentra offers many standard driver-assist features, including forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, and rear automated emergency braking. Adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree camera system are standard on the upper two trims.
If you’re on a budget, the 2021 Nissan Sentra isn’t a bad way to go. It’s more affordable than its top peers in its class and offers an impressive range of features for the price. Motor Trend also named the 2020 Sentra a 2021 Car of the Year finalist based on its style and overall value.
It’s a good car if you’re on a budget and might be more than enough to meet your needs.