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2015 vs. 2016 Nissan Sentra: What’s the Difference?

Editor’s note: You may want to read more of Autotrader’s model vs. model comparison car reviews as well as the 2015 Nissan Sentra used car review and the 2016 Nissan Sentra review.

 

If you’re thinking about buying a Nissan Sentra, you may have noticed that the compact sedan made some changes for 2016 — changes that are evident on the outside. But what exactly is new for the latest model year? And is the 2016 Nissan Sentra worth a price premium over a leftover new 2015 model or a used or certified pre-owned version? To help you answer those questions, we’ve created a close comparison that details the differences between the 2016 Sentra and last year’s model.

2015 Nissan Sentra   2016 Nissan Sentra

Exterior

On the outside, the Sentra makes minor, but noticeable changes for the 2016 model year. The most obvious is an updated front end, which aligns the Sentra with other recently updated Nissan models like the latest Maxima and Murano. The Sentra also boasts a slight update to its rear end, along with recently revised wheels. Overall, however, you might find it difficult to tell apart a 2015 Sentra from a 2016 model unless they’re parked right next to one another, as they boast the same general shape, size and overall profile.

2015 Nissan Sentra interior   2015 Nissan Sentra interior

Interior

Inside, the 2016 Sentra there are only a few minor changes compared to the outgoing model. In addition to a few updated and improved trim pieces, the 2016 Sentra touts a totally new steering wheel, along with a new high-resolution driver information screen in the gauge cluster of most trim levels. Other notable updates include a slightly revised shift lever and new climate controls. As for interior space, however, the latest Sentra is identical to the outgoing model, offering identical leg room, head room and hip room.

2015 Nissan Sentra   2015 Nissan Sentra

Mechanicals

Despite other updates for 2016, the Sentra is completely unchanged under the hood. It still offers only one engine — a 130-horsepower 1.8-liter 4-cylinder — mated to either a 6-speed manual transmission or an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic. Fuel economy remains 27 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway with the stick shift, and around 30 mpg city/40 mpg hwy with the optional automatic.

2015 Nissan Sentra interior   2015 Nissan Sentra interior

Features & Technology

Although the Sentra didn’t receive major changes to its styling, interior design or powertrain, it offers many new features compared to its predecessor. In addition to the new high-resolution driver information screen we’ve already mentioned, the 2016 Sentra touts a newly available power driver seat, along with safety-minded options such as adaptive cruise control, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and forward-collision warning with automatic braking. Those are major upgrades over the outgoing model, and they help keep the Sentra competitive with rapidly arriving new models like the new Honda Civic and the latest Hyundai Elantra.

2015 Nissan Sentra   2016 Nissan Sentra

Driving Experience

On the road, the 2016 Nissan Sentra feels identical to its predecessor. That makes sense, considering how many similarities it shares, including the overall design, the engine and transmission and virtually all components under the hood.

So how exactly does the Sentra drive? We like the sedan’s CVT automatic transmission, which is pleasant and enjoyable under hard acceleration, as well as the fairly soft ride. We do not, however, like the sedan’s vague steering and strained, underpowered engine, though those two items are fairly common on most compact sedans, with the exception of class leaders like the Honda Civic and Mazda3.

2015 Nissan Sentra   2016 Nissan Sentra

Safety

In crash-testing carried out by the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both the outgoing Sentra and the revised 2016 model earned 4 stars out of 5. It’s a different story with testing carried out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, however. While the 2015 model was merely a Top Safety Pick, the new one is a Top Safety Pick+ thanks to its new safety equipment.

As we’ve mentioned, the Sentra’s list of new equipment is impressive. It now offers adaptive cruise control, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and forward-collision warning with automatic braking — a rare feature in the compact sedan segment. As it did last year, the Sentra also offers an optional backup camera, standard side-curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes, and Nissan’s excellent Easy-Fill Tire-Alert system, which honks the car’s horn when you’re adding air to the tires in order to let you know when you’ve reached the correct tire pressure.

Conclusions

The 2016 Nissan Sentra and the outgoing 2015 model have a lot in common, including their overall design, interior and powertrain. But there are a few differences that might justify the price premium for a 2016 version, including a slightly more modern look, improved interior and, most importantly, a long list of impressive new safety features. If you don’t care about the styling or the safety features, however, you might want to save your money and find a leftover 2015 Sentra — or a certified pre-owned version.

Find a Used Nissan Sentra for sale

 
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More

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1 COMMENT

  1. Thanks so much for sharing in great detail about the difference with the 15 and 16 Nissan Sentra comparison.

    I didn’t see any difference with the Climate Controls in the picture in the 2016 Sentra vs.the 2015 Sentra.
    I appreciate the details you put in this article plus detailed pictures.
    Thanks

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