There aren’t many new cars under $25,000 left on the market today, but the 2024 Nissan Sentra is one of the best. With a few styling tweaks and improved fuel economy, the Sentra may finally be returning to form after years of disappointing models.
The improved CVT is good, not great
Ask anyone who’s driven a Nissan product in the last 15 years, and they’ll all say the same thing: The CVT is abhorrent. This much-maligned bit of kit is designed to keep engines in their optimum RPM range for maximum efficiency on the highway.
The downside of such a system is that it has trouble reacting to inputs. Notoriously sluggish under heavy loads, stuttery when carrying cargo or climbing hills, and just generally unpleasant all around, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone that thinks a CVT is preferable to any other automatic transmission configuration.
Nissan, however, has stayed the course. The new Xtronic CVT is supposed to solve most of those issues. Nissan claims that the new transmission smooths the Sentra’s driving experience while improving fuel economy. However, when Car and Driver tested the ‘24 Sentra, reviewer Austin Irwin remarked,
“While the gearless automatic simulates traditional gear changes, it doesn’t alter the fact that the [it] was noisy and slow, especially when trying to pass at highway speeds.”
OK, so maybe Nissan still has some work to do here. But the Sentra’s capable handling remains constant, and this affordable compact car does have some of the best weighted steering you’ll find in a new car under $25,000.
Sure, there are better rivals. But you’ll be paying $3,000 more for those than you will the Nissan, and the little Sentra has more tricks up its sleeve inside.
Passenger and cargo space of the 2024 Nissan Sentra
Even the best new cars under $25,000 come with compromises, and the 2024 Nissan Sentra is no different. However, Nissan has focused on the most important details in creating the cabin for this compact sedan.
The circular air vents, colorful stitching, and sweeping dash lines all present like a car that is at least $6,000 more than the $22,000 asking price. The seats are supportive and comfortable, even if the cloth upholstery does feel a bit meretricious.
The interior dimensions of the newest Nissan Sentra are the same as they were in 2023. That means 34.7 inches of rear legroom and nearly 38 inches of rear headroom to work with. Up front, the 39 inches of headroom means even taller drivers can get comfortable in the seat.
Trunk space is impressive for the compact segment at 14.3 cubic feet. Bested only by the Honda Civic at 14.8 cubes, the Sentra leaves plenty of room to enjoy a long road trip.
Is the 2024 Nissan Sentra safe?
The Sentra does offer a wide range of standard safety features that bests even its most formidable competition. It matches the likes of the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Hyundai Elantra with forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, and automatic emergency braking.
However, the Sentra also adds rear emergency braking with blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert as standard features as well. That extra bit of kit makes it one of the best new cars for under $25,000, especially for first-time drivers.
Fuel economy and performance of the 2024 Nissan Sentra
Powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the 2024 Sentra is good for 149 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. And with an EPA-estimated 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway, it offers segment-competitive efficiency figures.
The new Sentra is among the best new cars under $25,000
Overall, the upcoming Nissan Sentra is one of the best cars for under $25,000. In a world where fewer cars manage to limbo beneath that figure, the Sentra provides good value.
Without a doubt, the safety features and cabin are among the best for the money. That said, the powertrain leaves a lot to be desired. It’s far from a hidden enthusiast’s gem, but as an affordable, safe car, it’s among the best overall.