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2007 Nissan Sentra – Sentra in the City

AutoPacific and VehicleVoice had the opportunity to evaluate the all new 2007 Nissan Sentra on the roads East of San Francisco Bay. The all new Sentra competes with the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cobalt. For 2007, every major dimension has been expanded to meet American tastes.

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For the Record
Global development effort between Nissan and Renault. Delayed by about a year after bombing in USA product clinics. Went back to the drawing board to get it right.
Built at Nissan’s Aguascalientes Plant in Mexico: Plant underwent a $800 million upgrade to accommodate all new Sentra and all new Versa. 350,000 units per year capacity.
On sale October 12, 2006.
Target Customer: Echo Boomers – Generation Y between the ages of 18 and 29. Sentra needs to serve many purposes – going out with friends, carrying a bike, taking road trips, buying furniture at IKEA.
Strives to be Compact Class Benchmark
No longer a compact car aimed at the lowest common denominator customer, the new Sentra strives to be the benchmark of its class when it goes on sale October 12, 2006. While the Sentra slots into the Nissan car lineup above the all new Versa (which actually is larger in some dimensions) and below the all new Altima, the Sentra has grown over its predecessor in wheelbase (+5.9-inches), overall length (+2.3-inches), overall width (+3.2-inches) and overall height (+4.0-inches). Now the “compact” Sentra nudges the Mainstream Mid-Size Car in basic dimensions.
The Sentra has substantially more passenger volume than Civic, Corolla, Mazda3 and Cobalt. Similarly, it has a large cargo volume only slightly topped by Corolla and Cobalt.
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Substantial Powertrain Upgrades
The new Sentra is powered by a new 2.0L 4-cylinder MR20DE engine. The 4-cylinder has continuously variable valve timing and is tuned for low end torque. At 140-horsepower, the 2.0L is 16-horsepower more powerful than the 1.8l 4-cylinder in the previous generation Sentra. Torque is up substantailly to 147 foot pounds (compared with 129).
The “automatic” transmission is a CVT that is nicely matched to the engine. Nissan has made a major commitment to CVTs with the primary automatic transmission on Versa, Sentra, Altima and Maxima all being CVTs. While we thought having a CVT-only Murano was nuts when the SUV was launched, it has given Nissan the confidence to expand CVT applications throughout its car range. The CVT in the Sentra is Nissan’s 3rd generation “Xtronic” CVT which has 30% better shift speed response and 30% reduction in internal friction.

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Sentra has Gee-Whiz Features Unexpected in the Compact Class
The days of the “stripper” economy car are gone. The Sentra can be had with an Intelligent Key using RFID technology. Enter the car and press the starter button and you’re off. Sentra is available with either Sirius or XM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth interconnectivity and a Rockford Fosgate audio system. At the top of the model range, the Sentra SL has a leather trimmed interior, ABS, 16-inch alloy wheels, Intelligent Key and Bluetooth. Even the base car has standard air conditioning, power windows, power locks, AM/FM/CD, and a 60/40 split folding rear seat.
Driving Impression Favorable
The new Sentra feels large for its class. It is quiet, responsive and handles pretty well. If I were to buy one, the first thing I’d do is spring for better tires. The standard rubber gives up too much at low speed – squealing around even modest corners. The higher torque is immediately evident with acceleration more than acceptable for this class of car even with the CVT. Nissan has set up the CVT where it does not feel like a rubber band except when accelerating hard uphill.

Sentra Price Escalates with the More Upscale Car

While pricing cannot be revealed until October 12 it is obvious that all this new goodness cannot be free. Since the Sentra is no longer the price leader for the Nissan brand, and because there needs to be space between the Versa and Sentra, the base price of the Sentra will increase substantially. With the base price of the 2007 Versa at $12,450 and the 2006 Sentra at $13,200 and base 2006 Altima at $17750, we’d bet that the 2007 Sentra base price will bump up to about $15,000.

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