The Nissan Sentra began life as a subcompact car before graduating to the compact category for the 2000 model year. The Sentra has gotten larger over the years and the EPA rated it as a mid-size car from the 2007 model year on. It competes against models like the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus.
2013 - Present Nissan Sentra (B17 7th Generation)
The newest generation of Sentra is now built on the Nissan V platform and remains front-engine, front-wheel-drive. Both the interior and exterior were redesigned with a modern, upscale look.
Trims include the S, SV, SR, SR Turbo, SL and Nismo (the SR Turbo and Nismo were added for the 2017 model year).
Most models come with a 1.8-liter engine that comes standard with 130 horsepower, 128 pound-feet of torque and mpg ratings of 30 in the city and 39 on the highway. The SR Turbo and Nismo come with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. All trims come with a CVT except for the S base model and the performance-oriented NISMO, which both offer a six-speed manual transmission. In 2014 revised the CVT tuning, steering and suspension, plus an update for Nissan Connect.
2015 added new exterior colors and rear disc brakes as standard on SR models. 2016 saw a facelift that added new exterior parts to give the Sentra a closer resemblance to the Maxima and Ultima.
2007 - 2012 Nissan Sentra (B16 6th Generation)
In the sixth generation, the Sentra's 110 cubic feet of interior space made it technically a midsize car in the eyes of the EPA though it continues to compete in the compact sedan segment. The growth allowed for room in Nissan's lineup for the new Versa subcompact model below the Sentra.
This model was bigger in nearly every way than the previous generation and featured a wheelbase that was nearly six inches longer.
Most models in this generation came with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that made 140 horsepower and a CVT automatic transmission.
The performance-oriented SE-R and Spec V models used a larger 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that made 177 horsepower and 200 horsepower respectively. These models also had upgrades to their suspension, brakes and interior and exterior trim. The SE-R continued to use a CVT while the Spec V swapped in a six-speed manual transmission.
2010 saw a mid-generation refresh with a revised exterior and upgrades to the interior including a revised audio system and navigation system, optional backup camera and USB ports.
2000 - 2006 Nissan Sentra(B15 5th Generation) B15
This was the first generation Sentra to be formally classified as a "compact" car when it launched as a 2000 model. The redesign gave the entire model a more substantial presence to coincide with its growth and set it apart from previous economy car designs.
This generation was built on the Nissan MS platform and remained a four-door sedan only.
Most models in this generation came with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 126 horsepower and a four-speed automatic transmission or five-speed manual gearbox. The performance-oriented SE-R model had a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 165 horsepower while the even hotted Spec V model had 175 horsepower.
Nissan refreshed the Sentra for the 2004 model year that featured mild interior and exterior design changes.
1995 - 1999 Nissan Sentra (B14 4th Generation)
The fourth-generation Sentra dropped the coupe model and came in a sedan only.
Most models came with a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that made 115 horsepower and was paired with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. These engines were notable in that they came with timing chains rather than timing belts; the switch was aimed at improving reliability and durability.
SE and SE-R models had a 140-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Several trims were available in this generation. The base, XE, SE and GXE were carried over; a GLE and SE Limited were added.
1991 - 1994 Nissan Sentra (B13 3rd Generation)
The third-generation featured a standard 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that produced 110 horsepower and 108 pound-feet of torque. It was the standard engine across all trims, including the base, E, XE, SE and GXE.
The body style choices for this generation were narrowed down to a two-door coupe or four-door sedan (wagon and hatchback models were dropped) and it was still built on the Nissan B platform. Four and five-speed manuals and three and four-speed automatic transmissions were available.
A facelift happened for the 1993 model year and included interior updates, standard driver's airbag for the GXE and optional across other trims. This was also the generation when the Sentra SE-R was introduced, which included a 140 horsepower engine.
1987 - 1990 Nissan Sentra (B12 2nd Generation)
The second generation of Sentra did not appear in the U.S. until 1986 for the 1987 model year. It offered the 1.6-liter engine with 69 horsepower and paired with a five-speed manual transmission.
As with its predecessor, this Sentra came in a variety of body styles, including a two-door coupe, a sedan, a four-wheel drive five-door station wagon and a hatchback. The latter two body styles used an E16i engine with 70 horsepower paired with a five-speed manual transmission.
By 1988, all Sentras began using this engine. In 1989 and 1990, the engine was a 90 horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder.The 1989 model year saw mild updates to the exterior design and subtle changes to the interior.
1982 - 1986 Nissan Sentra (B11 1st Generation)
The first generation of Sentra was introduced to replace the Datsun 210 in the U.S. It was available in four different body styles, including a two-door coupe, four-door sedan, five-door wagon and three-door hatchback coupe.
The standard engine was a 67-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder, which was eventually replaced by a 69 horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder. Transmission choices included a four or five-speed manual and a three-speed automatic.
The EPA rated the Sentra with some of the best gas mileage at the time. It got 43 mpg in the city and 58 mpg on the highway. Its light curb weight of a mere 1,875 pounds helped it be that efficient.