Driving Notes

2016 Nissan Sentra

February 3, 2016

by Amy Winter-Hercher - Also by this author

Photo by Amy Winter-Hercher.
Photo by Amy Winter-Hercher.

For fleets looking to downsize to a compact sedan, Nissan offers the all-new 2016 Sentra. The seventh-generation Sentra is Nissan’s third vehicle to be redesigned in 2016, followed by the full-size Maxima and Altima.

This refresh increases safety technology on the sedan. By raising Sentra’s price by $250, Nissan has added the latest driver assistance technology, including forward emergency braking, intelligent cruise control and blind spot warning with rear cross traffic alert.

Additionally, the 2016 features several exterior and interior improvements, including a design that reflects an “energetic flow.” It has a stylish look — similar to the Maxima and Altima — with a new “V-Motion” grille and boomerang head lamps. The new alloy wheels add that extra touch of refinement.

I had the opportunity to drive the Nissan Sentra through the streets of Orange County as well as on a few highways. I got behind the wheel of three of its trim levels — from the SV to the sporty SR to the top-of-the-line SL.

As I climbed into the SL model, I first noticed the black leather seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Once I started the car, the new LCD flat panel caught my eye. Located above the steering wheel, it displays navigation, safety information and fuel economy — all in one spot that is easy to read.

The SR model has a sportier look in its design. It features charcoal sport cloth seats accented with blue stitching, silver and dark interior trim, dark aluminum-alloy wheels and a rear spoiler.

The Sentra handled well on both the neighborhood streets near the beach and on the busier freeways and Pacific Coast Highway. It’s powered by a 1.8L four-cylinder mated to an Xtronic continuously variable transmission. I had the option to drive in eco, normal or sport mode. If you aren’t driving too aggressively, the eco mode can help improve gas mileage.

Photo by Amy Winter-Hercher.
Photo by Amy Winter-Hercher.

The EPA ratings for the 2016 Sentra is 29 mpg city/38 mpg highway, with a combined fuel economy rating of 32 mpg.

The Sentra’s improved suspension design features retuned front struts and rear shocks and a 10% increase in higher spring rates. As I made a tight turn getting onto a freeway ramp, the new active understeer control kicked in. The inboard front brake pressure helped increase the vehicle rotation and maintain my speed through the turn.

The redesigned Sentra also comes with an improved interior quietness. As I was driving, I noticed less engine noise in the cabin. Nissan accomplished this by adding a high density mass barrier to the dash, Autozorb material to the door trim and laminated glass with a layer of acoustic barrier to the windshield.

With a starting MSRP of $16,780 for the S with 6-speed manual transmission, the Nissan Sentra offers six trim levels (S 6MT, S Xtronic, FE +S, SV, SR and SL).

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Amy Winter-Hercher

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Amy is an associate editor for Auto Rental News and Business Fleet.

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