The new Nissan Sentra is larger all around compared to the model it replaces, being about two inches longer, three inches wider, and four inches taller. The wheelbase is about six inches longer, which provides a significantly roomier interior, designed to accommodate full-size adults front and back. Ingress and egress are much improved as well.
Much attention has been paid to making the interior more functional than that of rival small sedans. For instance, the center console has multiple storage bins; there's an overhead, integrated compact disc holder built into the sun visor; and the glovebox is designed to fit a large notebook or map book.
Cargo space has also been improved, and there's a trunk pass-through along with a new 60/40-split back seat design that allows the seat to fold completely flat for better cargo flexibility. There's also a distinctive new trunk divider system that gives a false floor to the trunk, with a private storage area beneath.
The standard Sentra variants get a new 2.0L aluminum four-cylinder engine that makes 140 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque, and it's matched with either a six-speed manual gearbox or new Xtronic CVT automatic. The CVT system offers improved acceleration versus a standard automatic transmission, and returns better fuel economy ratings than the manual transmission.
The sportier SE-R model gets a larger, 2.5L four-cylinder engine that makes 177 horsepower and is mated to a CVT automatic. It comes with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters to provide more control during spirited driving. At the top of the range is the high-performance SE-R Spec V model, which gives the engine 200 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque, and matches it to the six-speed manual transmission. A helical limited-slip differential is available on Spec V models.
The new Sentra is available in three models, a bargain-priced base 2.0 model, a better-equipped 2.0 S, and the more luxurious 2.0 SL. The base model includes standard power door locks and windows, air conditioning, and a CD sound system. S models step up to power mirrors, keyless entry, a sound-system upgrade, and anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, while top SL models include 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, cruise control, an Intelligent Key system, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. The CVT automatic is standard on the SL.
The Sentra has more optional premium equipment available than ever before. Some of the new options include leather seating, a Bluetooth hand-free system, and a Rockford Fosgate audio system with eight speakers, an eight-channel amplifier, and a six-disc CD changer.
Both SE-R models add standard 17-inch alloy wheels, anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes, and various performance cues inside and out. SE-Rs come with special sport bucket front seats, while Spec V models add red seatbelts, aluminum pads, more leather trim, and an extra gauge cluster.
The so-called Nissan Advanced Airbag System is standard on all Sentras; it includes front-seat side-mounted air bags and also roof-mounted side-impact curtain bags. Active head restraints are also standard on the front bucket seats.