Where there isn’t a hard requirement on size, I’ve been letting our son choose our rental cars for the past year. So he picked the most mundane car because it had the least mundane colour.
The Sentra is about to be replaced by the updated Nissan styling language already seen on the Altima. Judging by the plate on the car (we were in Vegas, actually, not in CA), it was quite new with 13k miles.
Exterior: Blah. At least it had bright HID or LED headlamps. Oversized chrome bar on the grille, oversized front logo, generic blob profile, weird headlamp/taillamp angles that clash with said profile, everything I hate about today’s Nissans.
Interior: Nothing too positive or negative—it was fine. Spacious rear seat, soft-touch surfaces at the touch points, hard plastic everywhere else. Colour drive information display is a nice touch for this class. Infotainment screen is generous in size but does not contain a Nav system. The general interior style is best described as noncommittal. The handbrake (yes, a real handbrake) has a strange orientation which saves space, but offers poor leverage and requires significant muscle to release. One benefit to the blob-like profile is the good interior headroom.
Highlights: Literally the only highlight for this car is the incredibly padded door arm rest. It’s more comfortable than everything in its class, it’s better than any midsize, it’s even better than my Jag XJ. Arm rest designers, take note.
Smoking is not allowed if the smoke floats downward. So I think regular cigs are OK? I didn’t care to find out.
The drive: It’s exactly as you would expect a modern Nissan with a CVT to be. The ride lacks isolation and doesn’t offer any resistance to body roll save for the car’s modest weight. The CVT sometimes pretends to shift and sometimes doesn’t, depending on throttle position. We actually caught the transmission grinding and slipping once, a mildly alarming thing on such a new car being driven normally. Power is sufficient for ‘Murican highways, which is praise enough for this class. Seats were OK for long drives.
Overall: 5/10, would not rent again given the choice.
I also rented a Camry in Alberta before this, but I won’t write about it other than the incredibly tinny door closing sound.