2004 Sentra New Car Test Drive
Nissan Sentra gets updated styling and an upgraded interior for 2004. The changes give the Sentra a more contemporary appearance with a toothy grille reminiscent of the 2004 Maxima. New model designations (such as 1.8 S and 2.5 S) indicate which of two engines is under the hood.
The basic product and its mission have not changed, however. The Sentra remains practical and frugal, roomy and comfortable. Sentra offers a good value, starting at just $12,200 (MSRP) with a well-equipped 1.8 S retailing for $14,200.
The SE-R models are solid sport compacts, fun to drive, with a responsive suspension and a strong, 165-horsepower 2.5-liter engine.
For 2004, Sentra models get redesigned front and rear fascia and a newly styled hood. Also receiving changes for 2004 is the Sentra SE-R. New features include a new brake package for SE-R Spec V with Brembo front discs, a new interior charcoal fabric and two new exterior colors – Volcanic Orange and Sapphire Blue. There are several interior upgrades as well, including a trip computer (standard on 2.5 S, SE-R and SE-R Spec V) and an enhanced Rockford Fosgate sound system.
The names have changed, but the song remains the same in the Sentra lineup. Gone are the XE and GXE, replaced by alphanumeric 1.8 and 1.8 S designations. Five models are available for 2004 with a choice of four-cylinder engines. All are four-door sedans with front-wheel drive.
A 1.8-liter engine powers the 1.8 and 1.8 S models, while a 2.5-liter engine is used in the 2.5 S, SE-R, and SE-R Spec V.
Sentra 1.8 ($12,200) is the base model and comes standard with a rear window defroster, dual remote-control mirrors, power steering, a tilt steering column, 14-inch steel wheels and intermittent windshield wipers. A five-speed manual transmission is standard; but a 1.8 with four-speed automatic ($13,000) is also available. Air conditioning is not standard, but is part of a Convenience Package ($1,250) that also includes AM/FM/CD with four speakers.
Sentra 1.8 S ($14,200) comes standard with the popular features, including air conditioning, power windows and locks with remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD with four speakers, an eight-way adjustable driver's seat, a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, rear heater ducts, and a digital clock. The 1.8 S is also available with the automatic ($15,000). A Road Trip Package ($420) adds cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and AM/FM/CD with seven speakers. ABS and side air bags ($600) are optional on the 1.8 S, but we strongly recommend them as they could save your life.
Sentra 2.5 S gets the bigger engine found in the sports models. Here, the 2.5-liter engine puts out 165 horsepower and 175 pounds-feet of torque for quicker acceleration performance. It comes standard with an automatic transmission, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, and side airbags. A Power Sunroof Package ($700) is available for 1.8 S and 2.5 S.
SE-R brings a sporty personality to the Sentra. It offers great handling and there's lots of power available from the 2.5-liter engine. The SE-R ($17,100) comes with the 165-horsepower engine and an automatic transmission. The SE-R also comes with 16-inch alloy wheels with P195/55R16 performance tires, special body trim, a rear spoiler, sports suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, sport cloth seats with eight-way power adjustments for the driver, cruise control, an upgraded audio system, and titanium-colored gauges that glow orange at night.
SE-R Spec V uses low-restriction exhaust to boost output to 175 horsepower. To this, it adds a six-speed manual transmission, a helical limited-slip front differential, and 17-inch wheels with 215/45ZR17 high-performance tires. The Spec V comes with a hot lava-red interior featuring Skyline-style sport seats and black and silver accents. Racing style Brembo brakes with four-piston front calipers painted in traditional Nissan gold are available ($1,000) with 12-inch vented front discs and 10.9-inch rear discs.
ABS and side airbags are optional ($600) for SE-R and SE-R Spec V, but advisable for their ability to help save your hide. Other options include an Audio Fanatic Package with a 300-watt nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system ($550) and partial fold-down rear seat, and the Power Sunroof package ($700).