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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.