Looking at the equipment list and pricing, there's a lot of value for the money in the 2014 Nissan Sentra, and it's about in line with other models in this class, even adding a few features normally reserved for larger, more expensive models—like dual-zone automatic climate control and Bose audio on some models.
That said, there are also some frustrating equipment choices. For instance, rear disc brakes are available only on the top-of-the-line SL or the sporty SR, while a Bluetooth hands-free interface is optional on much of the lineup and not even offered on the base S.
Even at around $23k for a fully optioned SL, it's a lavishly equipped, frugal small car--again, for those who don't value the driving experience all that much.
Base S, mid-range SV, sporty SR, and top-of-the-line SL models of the Sentra span about $4,000—and mean the difference between getting seemingly bare-bones commuter equipment and a level of features that won’t feel like any kind of sacrifice.
Even at the base S level, the Nissan Sentra models include a six-way-adjustable driver's seat, tilt-and-telescopic steering, air conditioning, power windows, power locks, and keyless entry. SV models add cruise control, more speakers, illuminated steering-wheel audio controls, a security system, and premium upholstery, while the SR adds a sportier look, with 17-inch alloys, sport grille and fascias, lower-body extensions, fog lamps, and a chrome exhaust tip.
The top SL gets Bluetooth phone connectivity plus automatic headlamps, dual-zone climate control (a Sentra first), heated side mirrors, and Intelligent Key. One odd omission is that the sporty SR model has drum brakes; they’re part of the Driver Package.
A Leather Package is offered for $1,030 on the SL and includes heated front seats and, oddly, rear disc brakes (it’s the only way to get them). Meanwhile a $1,200 Premium package combines the moonroof, Bose audio system, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
At $650 and available on the SV, SR, or SL, the ‘NissanConnect with Navigation system’ is a modern, full-function nav system with traffic rerouting, weather updates, and point-of-interest (POI) information powered by Google. There’s also a Google Send-to-Car function and an Eco Route mode, and a rearview monitor. With this system you also get Pandora radio capability via Bluetooth Streaming Audio and your smarphone's data service.
One odd omission that we have trouble getting over—in this era of worry about texting and talking while driving—is that most of the Sentra lineup doesn’t include Bluetooth connectivity. It's included in the SL, but not at all available on the S. On the others, you either have to get it as a $350 standalone option, or to opt for that Driver Package ($1,000 or $1,080), which also includes an upgraded audio system, Intelligent Key, Smart Auto Headlights, and a leather steering wheel and shift knob.
The Bose premium audio system that’s available in the Sentra is another first. With eight speakers placed around the vehicle, it aims for a rich, balanced sound and actually has different amplifier settings depending on whether the Sentra has cloth or leather seats.
The base audio system has a CD player and four speakers, while a six-speaker system with 4.3-inch color display, USB port, and iPod control is in the middle. SiriusXM satellite radio is available. There's also an available 'NissanConnect with Navigation' connectivity system with a hands-free text messaging assistant, Google points of interest, and a Google Send-to-Car function.