The last-generation Sentra brought Nissan’s generations-old nameplate into the compact car class formerly occupied by the Altima- — which itself also sized-up back in 2001. Competing with machines like the Civic, Corolla and G5, the Nissan Sentra brought the brand’s knack for sporty and stylish vehicles to the highly competitive marketplace.
The four-door model got a selection of four-cylinder engines, starting with a 1.8-litre unit with 126 horsepower. Optionally available was a 2.0-litre mill with 145. Manual or automatic transmissions were both available.
Look for staple features like power locks, windows, and mirrors, cruise control, tilt steering, and remote entry. Tinted glass, a sunroof, alloy wheels and fog-lamps were also available, depending on the model selected.
What Owners Like
Most owners comment positively on the Sentra’s relative bang-for-the-buck in the features and fun departments. Engineers seem to have struck a nice balance between ride comfort and handling, and many owners rave about the up-level stereo system. Finally, many owners note that the Sentra offers a surprising amount of leg-room, relative to its overall size.
What Owners Hate
Common complaints include cheap interior trim materials, a noisy engine, and some squeaks and rattles as the car ages.
A failure to start, or random engine stalling, could be caused by a corrosion-promoting foam used in the engine computer module that slowly decomposes and releases small amounts of corrosive gas into the computer.
This can ruin computer connections and lead to a slew of drivability problems and ‘check engine light’ illumination. This problem could be frustrating, but it’s an easy fix-- as well as a recall item.
Your safest bet in a used Nissan Sentra will be a Nissan-serviced model that’s familiar to the selling dealer and has had all the manufacturer’s recall work completed. If everything checks out, you’ll likely enjoy one of the compact car market’s sportier contenders.