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High Value Good Looks - 2016 Nissan Sentra Review By Larry Nutson

2016 Nissan Sentra Review (select to view enlarged photo)

2016 Nissan Sentra
High value and good looks

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

We read or hear a lot about how SUV sales are so hot, whether it be the compact crossovers or full size 7-seater SUVs that will tow a house. Each month trucks, which include SUVs, outsell cars.

Well not everyone wants or needs an SUV. Not everyone likes to be climbing up into their vehicle. I personally like to slide down into a car and sit low. Not everyone is hauling lots of stuff or towing something on a trailer.

Indeed there are many drivers around the U.S. whose transportation needs are well satisfied by a 5-passenger 4-door sedan with low fuel consumption and a roomy trunk for those grocery store buys or for luggage on a weekend getaway.

The Nissan Sentra is one of those compact class sedans that fits right in along with a number of other entries in this segment that offers good interior room as well as good overall value.

For 2016, Sentra has undergone a significant refresh with a revised exterior and interior and the addition of an expanded offering of available safety and driving aid technologies. This appears to have paid off with sales up around twenty percent for the year.

2016 Nissan Sentra Review(select to view enlarged photo)

On the outside the 2016 Sentra takes on the looks of the Maxima and Altima. There’s new front and rear fascias, grille, fenders, hood and signature boomerang-shaped headlights and taillights and a new 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheel design. Sentra SR and SL trims add new LED low-beam headlights with LED signature accents.

On the inside, the Sentra cabin now features a new steering wheel, new available power driver's seat with power lumbar, new center cluster and audio display design, new console and shifter knob, and refined seat fabrics.

2016 Nissan Sentra Review (select to view enlarged photo)

2016 Nissan Sentra Review (select to view enlarged photo)

The 2016 Nissan Sentra is offered in S, FE+S, SV, SR and SL trims. All are powered by a 130HP, DOHC 1.8-L 4-cylinder engine. The S can be had with a 6-speed manual or Nissan’s Xtronic CVT automatic. All the other models come exclusively with the Xtronic CVT.

Prices range from $16,780 for the S with the manual up to $22,170 for the top of the line SL.

EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings are 32 mpg combined with 29 mpg city and 38 mpg highway with the Xtronic transmission. The Sentra S with 6-speed manual transmission is rated at 30 mpg combined with 27 mpg city and 36 mpg highway.

The Sentra FE+S model achieves slightly better mpg ratings coming from low rolling resistance tires and aero improvements brought about by a rear deck lid spoiler and rear tire and underbody aerodynamic deflectors. The EPA test-cycle ratings for the FE+S are 34 mpg combined with 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. The FE+S might be a good choice if you do a very high percentage of longer distance driving at constant highway speeds.

There’s some good news about the Sentra coming from the addition of a number of Nissan's advanced Safety Shield Technologies for the first time. Driver assistance features now offered on Sentra include Forward Emergency Braking (FEB), Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA). A rear view camera is also available.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) upgraded the 2016 Nissan Sentra to its highest rating of "Top Safety Pick Plus" when equipped with optional Forward Emergency Braking technology. For this year, IIHS has tightened its standards by requiring a "Good" or better rating in all five of the crashworthiness categories to earn a "Top Safety Pick" and making an available front crash prevention system mandatory for all awards.

All this new driver-assistance technology can be difficult to comprehend and understand how it is beneficial and worth the added cost. The National Safety Council and the University of Iowa have teamed up to provide an online, mobile- and tablet-friendly resource to help educate consumers. The website’s homepage lists the 28 technology and safety features present on vehicles today. Keep in mind that 95 percent of crashes are due to driver error.

On the 2016 Sentra, for an additional $1,230 Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC) and Forward Emergency Braking (FEB) are offered as part of the new Technology Package on SR and SL trims. ICC uses radar to maintain a set speed and distance between your car and the vehicle ahead, even braking to maintain that distance.

FEB provides audible and visual warnings to help alert the driver of a potential collision with the vehicle ahead in the traveling lane and can help reduce speed if necessary. If a collision is unavoidable, the feature will engage the brakes to help reduce both the speed of the impact and the severity of the collision.

My drive-time in the Sentra was in the SR trim priced at $20,410. Options included the Technology Package ($1,230) and Premium Package ($2,590) that includes blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, navigation with a 5.8-inch touch screen, 6-way power driver’s seat, leather seats, power moonroof, Bose premium 8-speaker audio and a few other items.

2016 Nissan Sentra Review (select to view enlarged photo)

Overall the Sentra is quite comfortable. The interior is attractive and well appointed with controls well marked and easy to use. The engine is responsive and does a fair job of moving the Sentra, whether it be accelerating from stop, merging onto a highway or passing. It’s not the quickest but it gets you there.

Ride and handling is comfortable and predictive brought about by a retuned suspension and improved body stiffness for 2016.

2016 Nissan Sentra Review (select to view enlarged photo)

I’m not particularly fond of CVTs and prefer a conventional automatic. That said, Nissan did a fairly decent job of minimizing power train noise that comes from the higher engine speed during faster acceleration inherent with a CVT operation. On the flip side, fuel economy is really good. I was easily achieving 30+ mpg in my drives.

More specs and information on the 2016 Sentra can be found at Comparing the Sentra to other compact sedans can be done right here at

The Sentra is impressive with its offerings of advanced driver-assistance features in a car priced in the low $20s. It’s roomy not only up front but the rear seat also can accommodate two adults comfortably. There’s lots of value in the Sentra plus it has some good looks both outside and inside.

© 2016 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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