2000 Sentra New Car Test Drive
Nissan has learned that refined and nimble little economy cars don't sell too well if they're homely. It learned this from its 1995-1999 Sentra. There's a lot of competition for economy cars coming from bigger used cars, which are now off-lease and selling at attractive discounts. But some folks, particularly smart female shoppers, prefer new, reasonably priced sedans to used cars.
So this new Sentra is an attractive car. Its styling is now as slick as the Civic. 'Compact' is a relative term, as all these cars seem to grow over time. The new Sentra pushes the boundaries of its sub-compact industry classification. It is longer than other four-door compact sedans: It's longer than the Mitsubishi Mirage by four inches, the Mazda Protege and Toyota Corolla by three inches, and the Honda Civic by two inches. And it looks it: The stretched body isn't tucked underneath the bumpers at the ends of the car, making it look even longer.
At first glance the front seats look like normal economy car perches, but once you're in them they feel much roomier. One reason is that the seats are adjustable eight ways, instead of the normal four. The roomy new interior holds more people and cargo. The rear seats are able to accommodate grownups now, and all seating positions provide more breathing room. An available 60/40 split folding rear seatback can be unlatched from the trunk. All three seating positions in the rear have three-point belts, though three back there is a crowd. The four outboard belts are equipped with automatic tensioners, an important safety feature for an economy car. This is equipment that many bigger sedans didn't have just five years ago.
Stereo controls are positioned high on the center console, making them easy to adjust, and the silver trim of the faceplate matches the latest in European Continental design found on the trendy Ford Focus. Other controls are straightforward and easy to use.