The Nissan Sentra has been a leader in the compact car market since it was introduced 34 years ago in 1982. Nissan’s little sedan had a big head start, because it replaced the popular B210 and 210 sedans made under the Datsun name in the 1970s. But no car continues to sell for a third of a century without a good reason. The Sentra has survived because Nissan knows how to build a high-quality small car with good features and an attractive sticker price.
For 2016, Nissan gave the seventh-generation Sentra a light makeover. The front end and rear bumper have been updated to give the new Sentra a more flowing and aggressive design. Nissan used small changes to good effect and the new Sentra is distinct from its predecessor and from the competition.
Inside, the Sentra has also received a minor facelift with a more sporty dash and driver’s area and greatly reduced road noise. A new 5-inch display screen is the centerpiece, and the driver also gets a separate display screen located between the gauges. All trim levels get at least an AM/FM/CD stereo with four speakers and a USB port, plus hands-free Bluetooth phone support. Higher trim levels can be ordered with the NissanConnect navigation and mobile app service, satellite radio, and Siri Eyes Free hands-free voice recognition services. Nissan does not yet support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
All 2016 Sentra models are powered by a 1.8-liter inline 4-cylinder engine rated at 130 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. The most basic Sentra S trim level may be ordered with a 6-speed manual transmission, but all others receive Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission. Nissan has attempted to make the CVT unit behave more like a traditional automatic, but the system needs more work to be convincing. Over time, as drivers get used to CVT, this will become less important. The reason almost all small cars are changing to CVT is for fuel economy. The 2016 Sentra turns in respectable numbers here, rated at 29 MPG in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. The Sentra FE+ S trim level does a little better, reaching 30 MPG city and 40 MPG highway.
The big news with the 2016 Sentra is the improved suspension design, featuring a 10 percent increase in suspension stiffness as well as enhanced body design borrowed from Nissan’s Nismo performance division. Out on the road, you can really feel the difference. The new Sentra is tight, responsive, and corners like a sports car. Nissan deserves a big A+ for the new suspension, and you’ll want to experience it for yourself.
The 2016 Nissan Sentra is a good choice for singles, couples, and growing families. With 4-door convenience and a well-equipped safety package, the new Sentra offers a great value. You can get your Sentra starting at just $17,615 including all fees. The absolute top of the line Sentra SL costs just $23,005, and there are six trim levels to choose from.
2016 Nissan Sentra Specifications
Base Price: $17,615
Body Type: Four-door Sedan
Engine: 1.8-liter inline 4-cylinder at 130 horsepower
Driveline Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Transmission: Continuously Variable or 6-speed manual
MPG: up to 30 city/40 highway
Road Noise: Quiet