Walkaround and Interior

By November 21, 2006

Walkaround

Nissan has brought the Sentra more into the family, with styling from a clean sheet of paper. It looks like a scaled-down Maxima now, with all the right curves, lines, and sculpted shapes. From every angle, it looks like a new Nissan, with its crisp character lines. Special attention has been paid to the grille, front fascia, big trapezoidal halogen headlamps, and steeply raked windshield.

Large door openings make it easy to climb in and out, and a high, distinctive rear deck offers ample trunk space.

The 2007 Sentra is 4 inches higher and 3.2 inches wider than before, and has a wheelbase 5.9 inches longer while only increasing the overall length by 2.3 inches, so there's a lot less of the body hanging over the wheels. This means better balance on the road. And the latest chassis are safer, with crush zones built into less space. Everything about a car is packaged so much more efficiently, today, in the cabin and under the hood. The Sentra is no exception.

You'll make no compromises in looks, comfort, safety or style, to have this inexpensive compact car in your driveway.

Interior Features

Nissan is marketing the Sentra toward those so-called Echo Boomers and their alleged non-stop lifestyle. There's an upcoming funny commercial featuring a rumpled Echo Boomer who makes a documentary of himself living 24/7 in his Sentra. So what does the Sentra have that will appeal to a life like that? One thing, for example, is a locking glovebox deep enough to hold a laptop computer. There's also an integrated removable CD holder on the headliner above the driver's sun visor; cupholders that are adjustable for 20-ounce bottles, 32-ounce mega cups, or cellphones and DVDs; and pockets with see-through netting on the backs of the front seats for passengers' cellphones and iPods.

With 97.4 cubic feet of cabin space, the '07 Sentra has more room than the Mazda3, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Chevy Cobalt, in that order. In trunk volume, the Cobalt makes up for it, with 13.9 cubic feet, compared to the Sentra's 13.1; but the Sentra has something simple but clever, in its optional (2.0S and 2.0SL) “Divide-N-Hide” trunk. The trunk is so deep that it can accept a false folding back, creating a secret space about 20 inches wide, just behind the rear seat.

We spent time in both a bare-bones Sentra 2.0 with cloth seats, and the fully equipped 2.0SL with leather. We loved the supportive feel of the cloth seats; they embrace your back like a good hug, and are neither too firm nor too soft. The leather is plush for a compact car.

The four-speaker sound system in the 2.0 was okay, and the six-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system with in-dash 6-disc CD system in the 2.0SL was great.

The longer wheelbase with shorter overhangs results in more legroom for the rear seat passengers. When there's no one back there, the 60/40 split rear seat drops flat, to open up the space into the trunk. There's no problem fitting a bicycle (or maybe two) back there, through the trunk; two friendly Echo Boomers could even sleep back there.

But the new instrument panel might be the nicest aspect of the interior. Again, very stylish, and functional too. The instruments are sharp, the controls easy to operate, and the center stack features a strong-looking shift lever rising out at a 45-degree angle. The trim around it all is a handsome flat silver.