By KBB.com Editors
Launching the new subcompact Versa early in 2006 left Nissan's existing compact Sentra in an ambiguous spot. Now, by redesigning the Sentra for its sixth generation, Nissan has clarified the distinction between the two. The 2007 Sentra sedan has grown by 5.9 inches in wheelbase, 2.3 inches in overall length, 4.0 inches in height and 3.2 inches in width. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, but the big news is Nissan's continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is offered for the first time in a Sentra. About 700 algorithms are available and an overdrive button alters the shift points to improve responsiveness.You'll Like This Car If...
If you like the idea of ride comfort mixed with frugal fuel economy and almost-sporty road behavior in a spacious compact, the Sentra can be a good common-sense choice. Shoppers who demand complete safety features should note that every Sentra contains both side-curtain and seat-mounted airbags, though anti-lock braking (ABS) is an option rather than standard, except on the top-rung 2.0 SL model.You May Not Like This Car If...
Despite its power-transmitting efficiency, a CVT-equipped Sentra probably won't satisfy those who demand all-out performance, so a stick-shift model or the coming-later SE-R would make a snappier choice. While Nissan's enlarged compact proves pleasantly capable, and the company promotes it as sportier than its predecessor, in reality it falls a bit short on the excitement scale.What's New for 2007
In addition to CVT availability, Nissan's second-smallest sedan is bigger inside and out, as well as more powerful: Specifically, 140 horsepower versus the prior 126. Buyers who crave more assertive performance can wait for the Sentra SE-R, which debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show and goes on sale in 2007.Driving It Driving Impressions
Nissan's CVT works very smoothly and efficiently. At idle, the engine is nearly silent and, while some noise appears when pushing hard, most other CVT-equipped vehicles are noisier. Although its powertrain is willing, the CVT sedan is a little on the sluggish sidebut more energetic from a standstill. Ride comfort is pleasant on most surfaces and tolerable even over rougher pavement, although the Sentra S felt slightly less smooth on highway rough spots. Occasionally, a serious bump may yield a sinking sensation or a rather harsher hit. The steering feel isn't sporty, but it's close, and the Sentra tracks well on highways and behaves adroitly on twisting roads.Favorite Features
Continuously Variable Transmission
Nissan's CVTs rank among the best, a result of the company's development process over the past 27 years. CVTs have been available in Nissan vehicles globally since 1992 and in U.S. models since 2003.
Expanded Interior Space
Significantly increased dimensions mean passengers have considerably more room than in previous Sentras, as well as in many other compact sedans. The four-inch height increase also eases entry/exit, as well as adding headroom.
Specifically designed for North America, the 2007 Sentra has an interior that Nissan claims is "a little more upscale and functional" than the previous model. There's a new instrument panel layout and the gearshift location is no longer down on the floor. Passenger volume has grown by 8.9 cubic feet and trunk capacity by 1.5 cubic feet; without question, this sedan is roomier than past Sentras. Front occupants get plenty of space and rear-seat room is abundant. Instruments are simple but readable, except for the bar-type fuel and temperature gauges and the trip odometer. Front cupholders adjust to hold a 32-ounce cup.Exterior
Built on Nissan-Renault's Global C platform, which is also used for the Renault Megane and other models not sold in the U.S., the Sentra is manufactured in Mexico. So was the prior generation, but the Mexican plant has benefited from 353 additional assembly robots. Some Sentra styling touches are reminiscent of the current Quest minivan, especially up front. Use of a relatively long wheelbase (108.7 inches), coupled with greater height, permits substantially increased passenger space. Short front and rear overhangs help give the Sentra a modern profile. Nissan notes that the Sentra's 70.5-inch width is comparable to many midsize sedans.Notable Standard Equipment
Three trim levels are offered. Even in base 2.0 trim, the Sentra includes air conditioning, power windows/locks and a CD player, with either manual shift or the optional CVT. Nissan's volume leader, the midlevel 2.0 S model, gets bigger (16-inch) tires, remote keyless entry, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and a trip computer. Topping the line, the 2.0 SL adds the continuously variable transmission, as well as leather interior trim, 16-inch alloy wheels, anti-lock braking (ABS), an "Intelligent Key" and Bluetooth hands-free phone operation. On all models, seat-mounted airbags and curtain-type airbags are standard.Notable Optional Equipment
In the base Sentra and 2.0 S, Nissan's CVT adds $800 to the price, while it's standard in the 2.0 SL sedan. Special features included in the Convenience Package include an overhead CD holder and a trunk divider that permits hidden storage. Also optional are an "Intelligent Key" keyless entry system, leather upholstery, Rockford Fosgate sound, Bluetooth hands-free phone operation and either XM or SIRIUS Satellite Radio. Anti-lock braking is a stand-alone option for the base sedan, but bundled with alloy wheels for the 2.0 S model.Under the Hood
Every regular Sentra has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine driving either a six-speed manual transmission or Nissan's continuously variable transmission (CVT), which includes an overdrive button. The SE-R Spec V model, which debuts in 2007, will have a 2.5-liter engine.
2.0-liter in-line 4
140 horsepower @ 5100 rpm
147 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/34 (manual), 29/36 (automatic)
Expect to pay substantially more for this larger Sentra than for its predecessor. On sale since October 2006, the base-model Sentra with a manual transmission has a Manufacturer's Suggest Retail Price (MSRP) of $15,365, a mid-level Sentra 2.0 S stickers for $16,265 and the top-of-the-line 2.0 SL is $19,015. The CVT is standard in the 2.0 SL, whereas it adds $800 to the prices of the other models. The Fair Purchase Price, which represents what consumers are actually paying, is likely to be only slightly lower. Be sure to click on Fair Purchase Prices to check what the Sentra is currently selling for in your area. Principal competitors include the Toyota Corolla, Mazda Mazda3, Chevrolet Cobalt and Ford Focus. Each of those rivals has a starting sticker price lower than the Sentra, from $13,665 for the Cobalt to $14,825 for the lowest-cost Corolla, while the Honda Civic starts a little higher. In terms of resale value, we predict that the Sentra will perform reasonably well over time. The Sentra is expected to retain 38 to 39 percent of its original value over a 60-month period, which is below its Toyota and Mazda competitors but appreciably better than the Cobalt or Focus.