Review: 2007 Nissan Sentra
This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2012.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The Nissan Sentra always has been a no-fuss economy car, although a few high performance versions have appealed to auto buffs. Nissan says it hopes the new, sixth-generation Sentra will be an "aspirational" model, not just an "entry level" auto.
The redesigned 2007 Sentra front-wheel-drive compact sedan replaces a model introduced in 2000. That makes the new Sentra long overdue in a very competitive auto market. Being late to the party is rather odd for Nissan because it's aggressive and one of Japan's largest automakers, right up there with Toyota and Honda.
Nissan understandably has concentrated on larger, more profitable new models, besides its sports car. But keeping an old Sentra around too long has given Toyota and Honda more of an open field to attract coveted younger car buyers to their entry-level cars.
Worth the Wait
There are three trim levels: entry 2.0, midrange 2.0S and top-line 2.0SL. Base prices range from $14,750 to $18,400.
Nissan says its new Versa—one of the best new entry Japanese economy cars—let it move the Sentra up in size (which makes sense) and allowed it to make the Sentra more stylish (which makes no sense).
Sleeker and Larger
Besides being roomier, the new interior has a fair number of comfort and convenience features, including air conditioning and power windows and locks. Newly standard are front-seat side airbags and side-curtain airbags.
Extras include leather upholstery, wireless cell-phone link and keyless starting and locking.
The speedometer and tachometer can be quickly read, but the fuel and coolant temperature gauges are an odd yellowish color that makes them seem as if pulled from another car.
Clever Trunk Feature
Cargo volume is up 1.5 cubic feet to 13.1 cubic feet over the 2006 Sentra. Besides routine stuff, items such as snowboards, hockey sticks and bicycles can be hauled.
The large trunk has a wide opening with a lid that moves well up and out of the way on hydraulic struts. But no interior pull-down handle on the lid's inside metal means hands will get dirty on the outside metal—a curious oversight for a car destined to see many shopping centers.
The 2.0 and 2.0S trim levels work with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Optional on those versions and standard on the 2.0SL is a newly designed continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Nissan calls its CVT the "Xtronic," which sounds like one of the colorful "space age" names given to new features by American automakers in the 1950s.
Previous Sentras (except for high-performance versions such as the 2006 SE-R Spec V) had a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic, which were OK a few years ago but no longer are competitive.
Acceleration in town is lively, but is average on highways. The dual overhead camshaft 16-valve engine is a sophisticated, high-revving unit. It gets a little noisy during hard acceleration, but loafs at 2000 rpm at 65 mph with the responsive CVT transmission.
Good Fuel Economy
The electric steering results in less engine power loss and is quick, although it feels a little stiff. The ride is supple with new "ripple control" shock absorbers. And the brake pedal has a linear feel. Stopping distances are short during normal driving.
No Sports Sedan
The Sentra has a reputation for being a reliable, long-lived car that costs little to operate, and the latest version should be no different. It's a bonus that it looks and drives better.