The Nissan Sentra has been a staple in the economy sedan segment for what seems like an eternity, competing with the the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and Ford Focus. However, for 2017, the Sentra gains a few new looks in the more performance-oriented SR Turbo and Nismo models, giving buyers visions of the wild SE-R from years past (in theory).

How does the 2017 Nissan Sentra and its new performance models stack up? Continue reading to find out.

Pricing and Equipment

The 2017 Nissan Sentra ranges from $17,855 in its base S trim to $25,855 (including the $865 destination charge) for its top-of-the-line Nismo trim. Because the Sentra caters to a more value-oriented crowd, its base trim will be the most popular among buyers, and it comes standard with:

  • Bluetooth connectivity with steering wheel controls
  • A USB port
  • Keyless entry and ignition
  • A four-speaker audio system
  • Power windows, locks, and mirrors
  • 16-inch steel wheels with covers
  • Automatic on/off headlights

To spruce up this base model, buyers can add the S Style Package ($500), which includes 16-inch 10-spoke aluminum wheels and a rear spoiler. Nissan also offers the SV, SR, and SL trims for buyers that demand a better array of standard equipment. Buyers looking for some added performance can opt for one of the SR Turbo models ($22,855 to $23,345 with $865 destination fee) or the Nismo model ($25,855 with $865 destination fee).

The Sentra is available with three engines. The base model uses a 130-horsepower, 128-pound-foot, 1.8-liter four-cylinder, while the SV, SR, and SL trims use a tweaked version of this engine with 124 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque. Both the SR Turbo and Nismo trims use a 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder with 188 hp and 177 pound-feet of torque. The base trim gets a standard six-speed manual and an optional continuously variable transmission, while SR Turbo and Nismo flip the script and get a standard CVT and an optional manual. The SV, SR, and SL are only available with the CVT.

Performance Pros

Nissan Sentra
  • The SR Turbo and Nismo add the pep the Sentra has desperately needed.
  • Smooth ride across the board, even with larger wheels.

Performance Cons

  • Turbo models get docked in fuel-efficiency: 27 miles per gallon city, 33 highway, and 29 combined.
  • 124-hp base engine leaves a lot to be desired in straight-line performance.
  • Standard six-speed transmission is sloppy, and the optional continuously variable transmission drones.
  • The Nismo might look sporty, but aside from the extra power, it's dismally un-fun to drive.

Interior Pros

  • Quiet cabin (for the class) at highway speeds.
  • Plenty of rear seat leg room and head room at 37.4 and 36.7 inches, respectively.
  • 15.1-cubic-foot trunk leads its class.

Interior Cons

Nissan Sentra
  • The seats are not very comfortable, especially on longer hauls.
  • The cabin is a little too upright and bland.
  • The combination of matte and metallic materials looks forced.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

The interior, though a little bland, is impressively roomy. Six-footers can easily fit in the front and rear with plenty of head room (even with the optional sunroof). What’s more, its 15.1-cubic-foot trunk makes fitting luggage for that weekend getaway possible.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

While the SR Turbo and Nismo models have marked improvement in straight-line performance, their retuned chassis, which includes stiffer front springs, upgraded dampers, larger wheels, remapped steering, and larger brakes, only make it feel marginally more engaging to drive than the base model. It's not an alternative to cars like the Hyundai Elantra Sport, let alone proper hot hatchbacks like the Volkswagen GTI, Ford Fiesta ST, or Mini Cooper S.

The Bottom Line

The 2017 Nissan Sentra remains great for growing families, thanks to its roomy rear seat, trunk, and respectable fuel economy in non-turbo models. But Nissan's attempt at creating a performance-oriented model in the SR Turbo and Nismo models falls flat.