Nissan has just launched a new generation of its bread-and-butter Sentra economy sedan. The all-new car gets a new engine as well, downsizing from the previous 2.0-liter to a 1.8-liter. It's a good thing that the car's overall weight has also been pared down, with Nissan claiming the new car is up to 150lbs lighter than the old one depending on the trim.
The third of five all-new vehicles being rolled out (the Altima and Pathfinder being the first two) by Nissan in a 15-month period, the Sentra grows inside and out. It rides on a 0.6-inch longer wheelbase and is 2.3 inches longer overall than the old car. The car is 0.6 inches shorter, however, and 1.2 inches narrower to improve aerodynamics, with the coefficient of drag dropping significantly, from 0.34 to 0.29. It has slightly more interior space, at 111 cubic feet versus 110.8 in the previous-generation car.
The exterior takes after the styling of the new Altima and Versa. There are LED-accented head- and taillights, along with mirrors that house the turn signals. Chrome accents abound on the body, including the door handles. The trunk, at 15.1 cubic feet, is a full two cubic feet larger than the one in the previous car.
The only fuel economy numbers Nissan is revealing at this time include the best ones possible, which the CVT-equipped FE+ model achieves. It's 40MPG highway rating is tied for best-in-class, with non-FE+ models achieving 39MPG, and all CVT-equipped Sentras getting 30MPG on the city cycle. All Sentras with the next-generation Xtronic CVT get a combined rating of 34MPG, which Nissan claims is best-in-class. Like other new cars, the Sentra will get a three-mode switch that affects shift points, performance, and other parameters depending on what's chosen. In Eco mode, fuel efficiency is prioritized, while Sport mode instead focuses on dynamic performance, with Normal being the default setting.
The engine makes 130 horsepower and 128lb-ft, or somewhat less than the 140/147 numbers the 2.0-liter in the previous car mustered. The car is also offered with rear drum brakes poking out from the 16-inch wheels, though four-wheel discs are available on some trims.
They include the base S, which will have a six-speed manual transmission standard, the SV, which gets cruise control, two more speakers for a total of six, steering wheel-mounted audio system controls, a remote entry and alarm system, and uprated interior trim. The SR gets larger, 17-inch wheels and a more aggressive body kit package, along with fog lamps, and a chrome exhaust tip. The interior gets unique upholstery and silver trim.
The SL is the range-topper, sporting fog lights, heated mirrors, a proximity key, Bluetooth, a display audio system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and dual zone automatic climate control.
The FE+ package will be available only on the SV and SL trims.
A NissanConnect with Navigation system will be offered, with a Hands-Free Text Messaging Assistant feature that will read incoming text messages and let drivers reply with their voice. It gets Pandora radio support and centers around a 5.8-inch touchscreen.
Some other options available on their own in the various trims include leather seats, heated seats, rear discs brakes, a glass moonroof, and a RearView Monitor.
Nissan's Sentra will continue to fight in the hotly-contested small sedan segment that includes the Civic, Cruze, Mazda3, Elantra, Corolla, and other sedans.