No satellite reception
Although we weren't exactly thrilled by the driving experience, two things made the Sentra desirable for running errands around town: it offers iPod integration and an excellent Bluetooth hands-free phone system, two features that are core to any tech car. Nissan has a navigation system available, but only for the top trim SL version.
The Bluetooth phone system seemed basic at first, as it operates entirely by voice command. But after pairing an iPhone with it, we were able to make calls not only by saying the phone number, but also by telling the car to call a specific person from our phone's contact list. For entries with more than one phone number attached, the car went down the numbers sequentially, asking us for a yes or no on each.
Seeing prominently marked iPod buttons on the Sentra's stereo, we searched until we found the iPod cable in the console. We've come to count on iPod integration for our test-driving soundtrack, and were pleased to find it in the Sentra. But its interface, which relies on the single line radio display, is tedious to use. After selecting a category, such as album, artist, or song, we had to scroll through one entry at a time using a rocker switch. A dial would be much better, as we could have scrolled through entries faster. With the rocker switch, finger fatigue kept our music selections near the beginning of the alphabet.
The radio can play MP3 CDs, but the interface also uses a rocker switch to navigate folders. Satellite radio is only available on the top trim SL version of the Sentra.
The six speakers in the Sentra is a pretty average count for modern cars. However, their audio quality wasn't what we expected. The system's bass was surprisingly sharp, with enough power to shake door panels. The high frequencies could get annoying shrill, depending on the track. Its midlevels get lost in the mix, making it difficult to understand lyrics.
The 2010 Nissan Sentra's CVT gives it an edge for performance, with its economical and smooth power delivery. For a small car in this class, we much prefer the CVT to a fixed-gear automatic transmission. The Bluetooth phone system and iPod integration were the car's saving graces as we were tooling around town, even if we did hate trying to select music using the car's interface. But the lack of satellite radio or a navigation option really hurts the Sentra's cabin tech score. Its bland looks would have made it average for its design score, but we had to knock off points for the poor iPod and MP3 CD interface.
|Model||2010 Nissan Sentra|
|Power train||2-liter four-cylinder engine|
|EPA fuel economy||26 mpg city/34 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||24 mpg|
|Bluetooth phone support||Optional|
|Disc player||MP3-compatible single-CD|
|MP3 player support||iPod integration|
|Other digital audio||Auxiliary input, USB drive|
|Audio system||160-watt six-speaker system|
|Price as tested||$19,370|
- See All Prices
- Set Price Alert
- Price History