2016 Nissan Sentra: First Look

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2016 Nissan Sentra;

Competes with: Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla

Looks like: A Sentra with the Maxima's face

Drivetrain: 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with a continuously variable automatic transmission, six-speed manual transmission optional on S models

Hits dealerships: Late December 2015

Starting price: $17,605 including destination

Nissan's 2016 Sentra sedan gets updated inside and out, and becomes the latest car to get the front-end design worn by the larger Altima and Maxima sedans.

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There are also updates to the interior and newly available technology features, which is important since just about every automaker has a car that will compete with the Sentra in the compact sedan market.

Exterior

Both the front and rear wear updated designs including a new grille, fenders, hood, headlights and taillights. For SR and SL models, there are new LED accents and new LED low-beam headlights. Two new 17-inch wheel designs are available for the SR and SL trims, and the SV model gets new 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

While the Sentra does bear a resemblance to other Nissan sedans, it doesn't really break any new ground as far as sedans go.

Interior

The changes are extensive inside. For starters, there's a new steering wheel; newly optional power driver's seat with power lumbar and a number of soft-touch surfaces around the instrument panel and door armrests, in addition to available leather-trimmed seating.

The instrument panel has been reworked with an LCD display that's supposed to provide higher resolution than previous models, and SV, SR and SL models include a 5.0-inch display between the tachometer and speedometer.

Other options include dual-zone climate control, an upgraded Bose audio system and a rearview camera.

Under the Hood

All Sentra models are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with a continuously variable automatic transmission, though a six-speed manual transmission is optional on S models.

Nissan said it retuned the transmission to provide a more stable, natural shift feel to the automatic, so we'll have to get our hands on one to see how successful that is.

Finally, both the suspension and electronic power steering mapping have been adjusted with an eye toward providing better performance and handling.

Safety

The Sentra gains a number of safety options for the first time, including blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and brake assist, which will apply the brakes if necessary and is designed to prevent or limit the damage in a front collision.
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Former assistant managing editor Bill Jackson manages the Research section, and he enjoys triathlons and cross-country skiing.  Email Bill

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