The reworked 2007 Nissan Sentra will debut in early fall.
Nissan rolls out new look for old models
Versions of its compact Sentra, midsize Altima and premium midsize Maxima sedans drive up.
G. Chambers Williams III / San Antonio Express-News
Maybe 2005 was the "Year of the Car" for Ford Motor Co., but this year it's Nissan's turn.
The No. 2 Japanese automaker will bring the next generations of its top three sedans to market this year, along with the introduction of a new entry-level sedan and a significant upgrade of its Quest minivan.
Nissan will roll out completely redesigned versions of its compact Sentra, midsize Altima and premium midsize Maxima sedans later this year, and they will join the reworked Quest and the all-new subcompact Versa to round out a completely refreshed lineup of cars for model year 2007.
The 2007 Altima and Maxima will make their debuts at this month's 2006 New York International Auto Show. The Quest was unveiled during the Chicago Auto Show in February, and both the new Sentra and the Versa made their first appearances at the Detroit show in January.
The Quest, with an entirely new interior and some exterior changes, is already on its way to dealers. The Versa, Nissan's new entry-level model, will begin arriving in early summer.
Next will be the sixth-generation Sentra, in early fall, followed by the new Altima and then the Maxima, Nissan's flagship sedan.
The Versa, offered in sedan and five-door hatchback versions, will begin at about $12,000. It's powered by a 1.8-liter, 122-horsepower four-cylinder engine and is positioned to compete directly against two similar new entry models from Toyota and Honda that also are on their way to market: the Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit.
More important, though, will be the Sentra, which has been one of the industry's best-selling compacts for more than three decades.
The 2007 model is designed to continue the Sentra's long-running formula for success: durability, quality, reliability, affordability, safety and economy of operation.
The company says it has sold more than 3.8 million Sentras in the United States since it was introduced in 1982.
Prices for the new Sentra are expected to begin at about $15,000, but even at that low price, the car will be very well-equipped, Nissan says. Among standard features, even on the base model, will be power windows/door locks, side-curtain air bags and air conditioning.
As with other vehicles that have come to market recently in this class, the newest generation of the Sentra is larger than the previous model.
Inside, there is more room for passengers and cargo. And with Nissan's recent emphasis on upgrading the interiors of its vehicles, the new Sentra will have some "innovative comfort and convenience features," the company said, including a 60/40 double-folding rear seat with a fold-flat seat back to help extend the trunk into the passenger area for bulky cargo; a panel that creates a hidden trunk storage compartment; and an overhead compact-disc holder.
The exterior has been extensively restyled, an obvious effort to give the Sentra some of the same pizzazz that has made other recent Nissan vehicles, including the Altima and Maxima, stand out from the typical plain-vanilla Japanese "appliance" car.
Under the hood is an all-new 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder engine rated at 135 horsepower and 140 foot-pounds of torque, up from the current base model's 126 horsepower. Standard will be a six-speed manual transmission; optional will be Nissan's Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission.
The car's new look includes a long wheelbase, short front and rear overhangs, what Nissan calls "crisp character lines," and larger door openings.
A major complaint of consumers and critics of Nissan's recent vehicles -- including some that have been highly successful -- has been a lack of style and quality inside the cars.
To that end, Nissan has been upgrading its interiors, beginning with the Altima in 2004 and continuing even in vehicles from the company's Infiniti luxury brand.
The new Sentra's interior "continues the sporty, functional theme of the exterior, with the use of high quality materials, large gauges and a spacious, flexible center console," Nissan said.
Although classified a compact, the car is almost midsize, judging by interior volume.
Nissan said the new Sentra is designed to accommodate full-size adults in comfort, thanks in part to its 97.7 cubic feet of passenger space -- 9.2 cubic feet more than the 2006 model. Front head, shoulder and hip room have been increased, along with rear-seat head, shoulder and knee room.
The 13.1 cubic feet of trunk space represents an increase of 1.5 cubic feet over the current model, and the rear-seat pass-through allows for carrying long items such as skis and bicycles with the trunk lid closed.