The Nissan Sentra is sort of in an odd spot. It’s not a very critical car to the compact sedan segment, which has ceded ground to compact crossovers and larger vehicles, but it’s a weirdly important car for Nissan. As the old generation Toyota Corolla ran its course and the Honda Civic dealt with its awkward 2005-2014 phase, the Sentra was there to happily take up the slack. In fact, it was one of Nissan’s best tools for increasing marketshare in North America.
However, there’s a new Civic in town now — one that should make the other cars in the segment feel rather uncomfortable should they find themselves on the bad end of a cross-shopping comparison. Chevrolet has a new Cruze in the pipeline, and Ford has been consistently pushing the boundaries of its Focus line. All told, the compact sedan segment is getting pretty crowded despite the macro trends that indicate that the market for compact sedans is shrinking.
For 2016, Nissan opted not to go all-in on a complete overhaul a là Honda. Instead, it brought the new model’s sheet metal up to date with its latest design language, and essentially called it a day — though not before adding some addition content and upping the price.
Granted, not by much — the base model S sees a $250 bump to$17,615 after accounting for destination fees, while the SV starts at $19,385. Moving on up the ladder is the SR ($21,245) and the SL ($23,005). At most, a 2016 Sentra will set you back $1,450 when shopped next to a comparable 2015 model.
That extra coin translates well, though. Don’t think of it as your typical cost-of-inflation rise — the new Sentra comes with new standard tech, notably new LED headlights and a suite of active safety features encompassing adaptive cruise control and emergency braking. There’s also Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Virtually everything beneath the surface was untouched, and the Sentra uses the same 1.8 liter inline-four. It can be paired with the buyer’s choice of a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission ($850, or with the ‘FE+’ package, another $450).
“Sentra has experienced tremendous growth in sales and market share in recent years, making it one of Nissan’s fastest growing nameplates,” said Dan Mohnke, vice president of Sales & Marketing Operations, for Nissan North America. “To help keep momentum going, we’ve given Sentra a new look and feel for 2016, starting with a revised exterior and the addition of an expanded suite of available safety and driving aid technologies.”
There’s no saying whether it’ll be enough to counter the full ground-up redesigns that others in the segment are getting, but the Sentra was sitting in a comfortable place prior to its refresh. The added features and new look certainly can’t hurt its cause.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.