Drive Time: New Sentra turbo handles ice, snow well
February 3, 2017
With three four-wheel-drive/all-wheel-drive vehicles sitting at my home Thursday morning, I backed out of the driveway into the icy, snow-covered streets for my Starbucks run in a front-wheel drive Nissan Sentra.
It was my choice; testing, you know. I knew the streets were slick from the freezing drizzle Wednesday night and the falling snow Thursday morning, and I wondered how the Sentra compact would handle it.
The Nissan did fine, slipping only twice, once accessing Centerplace Drive from a commercial driveway and again turning onto 26th Street off a slight slope. With manual transmission, my takeoffs were in second gear to avoid first-gear spins. Deep-treaded Continental ContiProContact 205/50R17 tires provided good traction.
Normally, I'll take four-grips over two-grips anytime in Colorado between October and April. The Sentra was here, though, and I got around okay, same as many others who rely on comfortable, front-wheel-drive sedans for year-round use.
“The turbo is much improved over the base engine in acceleration, felt most impressively in low-end thrust. If there is a downside, it is the fact that sportier suspension accompanying the turbo power means a firmer, less-smooth ride.”
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Nissan delivered the Sentra my direction to show off its new model, the SR Turbo, equipped with a 188-horsepower, 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine mated to the 6-speed manual tranny. Base engine is a weak-performing 124-hp, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder. A continuously variable transmission is optional with either engine.
The turbo is much improved over the base engine in acceleration, felt most impressively in low-end thrust. If there is a downside, it is the fact that sportier suspension accompanying the turbo power means a firmer, less-smooth ride.
Among equipment tied to the SR Turbo package are premium cloth sport seats, rear spoiler with integrated LED brake light, chrome exhaust tip and lower body-side sill extensions.
Another SR plus are Sport and Eco driving modes. In addition to Normal, the Sport set tightens steering and delivers more responsive power delivery. Eco is most economical setting.
Though somewhat drab in interior appeal, the Sentra cabin is one of the roomiest in the compact class. Its trunk space of 15.1 cubic feet also is among best of compacts, comparing to 14 cubic feet for the Hyundai Elantra and only 13 cubic feet in the Toyota Corolla.
Use of acoustic glass in its windshield has helped the Sentra maintain rating as one of the quietest of compact cars.
Driving in the cold weather on the icy streets cut the Sentra SR Turbo's overall fuel mileage to 26.8 miles per gallon; its EPA estimate is 26/32. A base-engined Sentra with CVT carries a 29/37 fuel estimate.
The SR Turbo was reasonably priced at $23,055, including streaming audio via Bluetooth with hands-free phone system, power sliding moonroof, rear-view monitor, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows/locks/mirrors, 5-inch color audio display and push-button ignition.
Other Sentra models are the S, SV, SR and SL. Sentra competes with the Mazda3, Honda Civic, Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Subaru Impreza, Elantra and Corolla and others. The Sentra, 182.5 inches long on a wheelbase of 106.3, is sized very closely with the Civic.
The Sentra is third best-seller among 16 models for Nissan, trailing only the Rogue compact crossover and the Altima mid-size sedan.
Nissan is the seventh best-seller among brands in Colorado, behind Jeep and ahead of Ram.
Bud Wells, a native of Wray, is a former Page 1 editor of the Denver Post and has reviewed automobiles for the past 40 years. He can be contacted at email@example.com.