The Nissan Sentra Sedan is likely one of the most well-known compact cars from Japan. It originated as an export version of the Nissan Sunny and the Sentra name is still not used in Japan. The beginning of the Sentra in the United States was more along the lines of a subcompact, but over the years it has grown into its current place in the market. Though it was far more popular when it was introduced in 1982 to the American market, the Sentra is still a solid and reliable sedan that often gets overshadowed by other competitors in the family automobile lineup.
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The first generation of Nissan Sentra Sedan to be offered in the US was the replacement vehicle for the Datsun 210. It was originally imported to the U.S. from Japan and came in four basic body styles that included a two door, four door, station wagon and hatchback. The Sentra was only the second Nissan sedan to be marketed in the States without a number as the basic model, the first being the Stanza. It was, however, the first to take advantage of both a front engine and front wheel drive. The small 67 hp 4 cylinder engine debuted on the market as the highest gas mileage of any car with a whopping 43 in the city and 58 on the highway.
Because of its popularity, the Nissan Sentra Sedan quickly became the top selling import in the U.S. and the fourth bestselling vehicle overall. Over the coming years a diesel engine option would be added and production would be moved into the states. The second generation would see a sport coupe added to the lineup and would be the final demise of the station wagon. This generation debuted in most areas in 1985 but did not hit the U.S. market until 1986.
With the introduction of the third generation came the ability to have fuel injection as a standard feature. The engine had moved up to 110 hp and the special SE-R model would introduce a newer and faster engine known as the SR20DE. As the fourth generation was ushered in during 1995, buyers were given a choice of two engines and the two door model would be renamed the 200SX. This limited the Nissan Sentra Sedan to only the hatchback and sedan models so the focus could be on a family vehicle that was still listed in the subcompact class.
The fifth generation saw a completed redesign and the added space would move it into the compact class. The changes were quite significant from previous versions and many felt that they were truly upgrading their Nissan Sentra Sedan by purchasing the newer model. Production was again moved, this time Mexico, and the car no longer had any resemblance to its roots as a version of the Sunny. When the sixth generation was introduced at the North American International Auto Show in 2006 it was now labeled a mid-size sedan. The added cargo and passenger room had been a significant upgrade and made it much larger than the previous generation.
Though the Nissan Sentra Sedan is classified to this day as a mid-size sedan, it still appeals to those in the market for an economy car. The newer model has quite the competition and in some ways cannot measure up, but there is still much to be said for the Sentra. It has a roomy interior that offers plenty of space for even the tallest adult. Though the fuel economy is good, it is not the best on the market in this price range and the performance falls short in comparison as well.