Vehicle Overview
A redesigned version of Nissan's compact Sentra is expected to debut soon. Meanwhile, minor changes for 2006 include the addition of an in-dash six-CD changer to the Audio Fanatic Package and two new exterior colors: Sapphire Blue and Sunburst. The front-wheel-drive Sentra comes in 1.8, 1.8 S, and performance-focused SE-R and SE-R Spec V trim levels.

The Sentra illustrates the increasingly global nature of the auto industry: Its original styling took place in California, the interior was designed in Germany, engineering was completed in Japan and the U.S., and the car is built in Mexico. (Skip to details on the: SE-R and SE-R Spec V)

Styling elements were adapted from the automaker's larger Maxima. A low hood and high rear deck help give the Sentra a more upscale image. Sentras have body-colored side moldings and bumpers. Chiseled character lines run from the front to the rear, and flush-mounted one-piece headlights are installed.

Sentras ride a 99.8-inch wheelbase, measure 177.5 inches long overall and 67.3 inches wide, and stand 55.5 inches tall. Standard wheels are 15 inches in diameter, but 16-inch tires on aluminum wheels are optional for the 1.8 S. A power sunroof also is available for the Sentra 1.8 S.

Front occupants get bucket seats, and the driver's seat features either four- or eight-way adjustment. A rear bench promises room for three occupants, but adults may feel cramped. The rear seatback is available with a split, folding feature, which increases total cargo space.

The 1.8 S sedan has remote keyless entry, power windows and locks, and a trip computer. Large cupholders are located in the front-door map pockets. The trunks in all models hold 11.6 cubic feet of cargo.

Under the Hood
A 1.8-liter four-cylinder in 1.8 and 1.8 S models develops 126 horsepower and teams with either a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission.

Side-impact airbags and antilock brakes are optional in all models but the 1.8.

Driving Impressions
Any regular Sentra serves as capable and comfortable transportation. Each model blends a pleasant ride with easy maneuverability — all for a moderate price.

SE-R and SE-R Spec V
Nissan continues to position the Sentra SE-R against the Honda Civic Si and Volkswagen GTI. SE-R design cues include a mesh grille, fog lamps, body-colored side sill extensions and a rear spoiler. The SE-R features performance-tuned shock absorbers and 16-inch tires, while the SE-R Spec V sedan gets 17-inch tires. A Brembo brake package is optional for the SE-R Spec V, which benefits from a track-oriented suspension and features an interior with black and silver accents.

The SE-R contains a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 165 hp at 6,000 rpm; it teams with a four-speed-automatic transmission. The SE-R Spec V holds a 175-hp version of that engine and works solely with a close-ratio six-speed-manual gearbox. A 300-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo is optional.

In addition to its energetic engine, the Sentra SE-R is appealing for its handling talents. Whipping an SE-R through tight turns is sheer joy, and the tautly suspended sedan clings tenaciously to the pavement. Back to top