Nissans smallest U.S. model was redesigned and introduced in February as a late 2000 arrival, so it basically carries over for this year. The front-drive Sentra comes only in sedan body styling and is now classified as a compact and not a subcompact by the EPA.
The Sentra illustrates the increasingly global nature of the auto industry. The styling took place in California; the interior was designed in Germany; the engineering was done in Japan and the United States; and the car is built in Mexico. To add more international intrigue, French automaker Renault owns a controlling interest in Japan-based Nissan.
Nissan tries to give the Sentra a more upscale image with Maxima-like styling features, including a low hood/high rear deck, chiseled character lines that run front to rear and an arching line for the trunk.
The length grew by 6.5 inches to 177.5 overall with the redesign.
The Sentra has the usual small sedan accommodations of two front bucket seats and a rear bench with nominal space for three people. Most adults will feel cramped in the back. The split rear seatbacks fold for additional cargo space, and the releases are in the trunk.
New interior features include a covered storage box on top of the instrument panel, holders for 20-ounce beverage bottles in the front door map pockets and optional side-impact airbags for the front seats.
Under the Hood
Two engines are available in the Sentra. A new 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 126 horsepower replaced a 1.6-liter as the base engine. A carryover 2.0-liter four-cylinder from the previous generation gained 5 hp to 145. A Sentra CA (Clean Air) model is available in California with a low-emission version of the 1.8-liter engine.
Both engines are available with a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. Antilock brakes are grouped with side airbags as an option package.
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