The first-generation Nissan Sentra first appeared on American roads in 1982, early in the very costly Datsun-to-Nissan rebranding process. The lightweight, fuel-efficient Sentra was a big sales hit, because drivers in the early 1980s (with vivid memories of the gas lines of a few years earlier) were willing to put up with double-digit horsepower and lots of NVH in a car that promised decent reliability and cheap point-A-to-point-B costs. Now, of course, nearly all of the early Sentras are gone, so this well-worn example in a San Francisco Bay Area yard gives us an interesting history lesson. (Read More…)
As wonderful as the American marketplace is, there’s an entire world — literally — of cars out there that we just can’t get our hands on. In TTAC’s new series, “Foreign Affairs,” we look at forbidden fruit that you can buy brand new around the world.
The Mexican new car market is remarkable. While plenty of good new cars come across the border, inciting at least one presidential candidate to threaten penalty taxes, its domestic market still continues to sell older gems, some of which are built to older safety standards. Even the Beetle was built there long after its sell-by date.
Traditional car shoppers are moving away from small sedans and toward compact crossovers. That’s the conventional wisdom used to explain the slowing sales we see in some models. But could there be another reason? Could it simply be a lack of focus and attention to the compact segment?
There is one model that’s seen a meteoric rise in sales since 2013: the Sentra. Nissan’s complete overhaul three years ago and aggressive pricing doubled Sentra sales since then, moving it from a “top 15″ player in sales to number five in 2015.
In an effort to maintain the trajectory, Nissan opted for a major refresh after just three years on sale. (Sounds like the Honda plan with the Civic, doesn’t it?) Perhaps the key to compact success is a combination of frequent updates and more gadgets for shoppers to choose from. That sums up the 2016 Sentra perfectly.
(The Sentra still really needs an SE-R model.)
Nissan unleashed its heavily refreshed 2016 Nissan Sentra on Tuesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show completing the overhaul to the automaker’s line of sedans. The compact sedan, which still uses the same 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine as the last model, sports a few of the Maxima’s designs and even fewer of the new Altima’s curves (we’ll have our first drive for that soon).
The company’s V-shaped grille and boomerang headlights are present, but some of the more unique features will have to wait for the Sentra’s complete overhaul a few years from now.
The Nissan Sentra SE-R was often compared to Nissan’s OG hot sedan — the 510. With decent power and handling in a three-box profile, I can see the resemblance. The factory limited-slip differential helped put all those whopping 140 horsepower to the ground better than most other front drivers.
And that SR20DE engine also pulls a premium the week before Race Wars.
The 2016 Nissan Maxima won’t be the only one to receive an extensive update to its style, as the automaker plans to do the same for the Altima and Sentra.
Now waiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit a minute!
Didn’t I just review a grey Nissan Sentra on these very (electronic) pages? Yes, I did, but it was the 2013 Sentra that I took on a long, dreary trip to Minnesota. I found it to be pretty decent but not quite ready to do battle with the class leaders.
Imagine my surprise when I arrived at LAX just two weeks later and found the infamous Vodka McBigbra behind the wheel of a 2012 Sentra in about the same color, with about the same level of equipment. “I’m a #1 Gold Hertz Person now,” she said, “and I thought that meant I got a convertible, not this piece of crap. Isn’t that what it’s supposed to mean?”
“The ways of Hertz are beyond the understanding of mere mortals. Move it on over,” I commanded, with all the authority of a young George Thorogood, “it’s time for a time-shifted comparison test.”
“Can it be time for In-and-Out Burger first?”
When Alex Dykes checked out a pre-production Sentra in Napa, he was favorably impressed.
When I was given a Sentra SV with just 812 miles on it at the rental counter this past Friday, I was unfavorably depressed; I had to cover 1,380 miles round-trip from Columbus, Ohio to Winona, MN in just 40 hours and I’d been hoping for a Grand Caravan, if only for the way the Stow n’ Go makes sleeping at rest stops a genuine pleasure. Still, this was a rare opportunity: a chance to check out a like-new production car for the totes-reasonable sum of fourteen dollars and seventy cents per day.
Regulators, mount up.
TTAC commentator greaseyknight writes:
I have a question that I would like to throw at you and the Best and Brightest. Time is of the essence! In about a month I will be moving from the PNW to Wisconsin. My car is a rust free ’92 Nissan Sentra, and I would like to keep it that way during my stay in that state, which is be at least a couple years. (Read More…)
Camry or Accord?
Back in the early 90’s, most non-enthusiasts with who admired certain small cars as long-term transportation modules would wind up at a Toyota or Honda dealer. Civic, Corolla, Camry, Accord. The majority of these blase buyers would price out their Toyonda car with nary a fleeting glance toward the Nissan side of the world.
Those early-90’s Sentras may have eventually yielded a bulletproof powertrain for the developing world and a wonderful SE-R model as well. But nobody cared back then. The Stanza? Still stuck in the 80’s school of design with a 90’s price tag.
Nissan was the least loved child of the Japanese Big 3 among those who least loved cars in general. But then the market slowly changed.