Nissan Sentra is produced by the Nissan Motors and is general an export version of the Nissan Sunny. Sentra is not used in Japan for a name.
The Sentra, in the United States, has a price ranging from 15000$ to 21000$ depending upon the facilities available with it. Sentra has grown over the years, initially introduced as subcompact cars but recently being replaced by the Nissan Versa in the entry-level area.
Sentra was introduced in US for the first time in the year 1982 with an export name for the Nissan Sunny. Other countries, such as Brazil, sell their versions of the Sunny as the Sentra. In Mexico, the first three generations were known as the Tsuru, even the 1994 model has the same name still, despite undergoing three facelifts alongside the current Sentra.
The 1982 Nissan Sentra introduced in the US was a replacement for the Datsun 210. The model was initially imported from Japan. It was the second car marketed in the US under the name of Nissan and came in four body styles (two-door sedan, four-door sedan, five-door wagon & three-door hatchback coupe). Nissan Stanza, introduced in the 1981 New York Auto Show as 1982 model, was the first one. The older Sunny models had used a front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout; the B11 Sentra was the first to use a front-engine, front-wheel drive layout. The engine equipped was a 67hp, 1.5 L four-cylinder SOHC, which replaced the old A-Series OHV. The torque peak was 85 lb-ft at 3,200 rpm. Transmission options included a 4-speed manual, 5-speed manual or a three-speed automatic with lock-up torque converter. Drag coefficient was 0.39 for the coupe and 0.40 for two- and four-door sedans.
The trim levels were standard, Deluxe and XE, the base two-door sedan was priced at US$ 4,949 and ranging up to the two-door XE hatchback coupe priced at US$ 6,899. Standard equipment on all the models included front disc brakes and rear drums, four-wheel independent suspension, maintenance free battery, rear ashtray & buck seats. Halogen lamps, remote-locking gas filler door, trip odometer, carpeted trunk and rear wiper-washer on the wagon were added into the Deluxe models. Deluxe and XE offered tinted glass, trip odometer, vanity mirror, dual remote mirrors and door trim. XE offered cut pile carpeting, analogue quartz clock, remote rear window opener, low-fuel warning light, AM-FM Clarion stereo radio, power steering, tachometer and 155/13 whitewall radial tires. The option of a sunroof was available.
The low fuel consumption feature of the Sentra made it a success quickly. It grabbed the status of a best-selling import in U.S in its first year of sale and also became the 4th best-selling car overall with a sale of 191,312 units. In the year 1983, it became the 8th most-sold passenger car with 209,889 units.
The various body styles of the B11 generation were still produced and marketed. The B12 chassis was produced in 1985 for the first time worldwide and offered first to United States in 1986. Standard E16(s) with 69 hp and a 5-speed manual transmission came equipped for all Sentras except the Sport Coupe in 1987 where as in 1988 all the Sentras had a 70 hp E16 (i) along with a throttle body injection. Some models with diesel engines were also offered but were rare. From 1989-90, only engine offered was the 90hp GA16i, a 12 valve SOHC version of the later GA16DE.
B12 followed the 4-wheel independent suspension from the B11 but modified it radically and some parts of the world offered the option of 4-wheel disc brakes. This marked the beginning of the model classes, a standard through year 2003. The E at base-level, XE as the next, GXE at the top for 4-door sedans, sporty SE coupe & the SE-R was presented as the top of the line performance model. GXE had similar visible features from 1987 to 2003 and lacked power windows, locks and mirrors. The SE had power locks, doors and windows in few parts of the world. Back seats had safety lap belts but no shoulder belts until 1990.
The last chassis to offer the station wagon model, marketed as ‘California’ in some Asian markets, was B12. The four-wheel drive versions of the station wagon were rare, which were an option in 1987, 1988 and 1989 models. The electrically activated 4WD made them a selectable 4WD not all-wheel-drive vehicles. The only Sentras offered a TBI were the 1987 model of the 4WD Sentra Wagon and the Sentra Sport Coupe hatchback.
Sentra was known as the Nissan Tsuru II & the Sport Coupe 3-door hatchback as the Nissan Hikari, marketed as Nissan’s sports flagship car offering a low boost Turbo. B12s are reliable, have good fuel economy and are low budget project cars due to interchangeability of parts with other Nissan models.
In Kenya (East Africa), the B12 is imported and marketed as Nissan Sunny and comes with a 1.3 or a 1.5-L Petrol Engine. The B12 4-door sedan remained through the year 1993 in Canada. A rebadged Tsuru II was known as the Sentra Classic to distinguish it from the B13 model of 1991 and it also replaced the price-leader model Nissan Micra. The Philippines had three initial models namely the 1.7 DX, 1.3 SLX and the 1.5 SGX, later introduced models were the Nissan California and a freshened up line of the Sentra model.
B13 was launched in 1991. It was powered by 110 hp 1.6-L GA16DE engine. The third generation Sentra was available in base, E, XE, GXE, SE and Limited Edition models. Power package including power windows/locks/mirrors was offered for GXE and Limited Edition models. However, the rest of the models received standard equipment with an option of sunroof and alloy wheels. Front motorized shoulder seatbelts were offered in four-door models.
The B13 was also regarded as the first Nissan vehicle that offered Nissan’s new SR20DE engine in the sporty 2-door SE-R. With the new engine, the SE-R was able to develop 140hp (104 kW) at 6400 and torque of 132 lb-ft (179 Nm) at 4800. The SE-R featured 4-wheel disc brakes and a MacPherson strut independent suspension.
The fourth generation Sentra (B14) was introduced in 1995 and remained in production until 1999. The independent rear suspension was dropped in favor of torsion beam setup. There were certain models that lacked rear swaybar or rear disc brakes. Majority of the fourth generation Sentra models came with a 1.6-L DOHC equipped with Nissan’s Variable Intake Valve Timing Control System (NVTCS) and standard 5-speed manual transmission. There were also present timing chains in B14 engines.
The fourth generation Sentra was available in several trim levels including Base, XE, GXE, GLE, SE and SE Limited. Except for SE and SE-R, all the trim levels came with GA16DE 1.6-L engine rated at 115 hp (86 kW). The SR20DE 2.0-L engine was used in SE and SE-R with an output of 140 hp (104 kW).
In 1998, the 2-door Sentra was rebadged as the 200SX and carried the sporty SE-R along with it. The Sentra SE received a whole lot of performance parts except for limited-slip differential in 1998. It also utilized the 2.0-L SR20DE engine similar to SE-R.
The 1998 model year of 200SX SE-R offered without limited Slip differential. The production of Sentra was discontinued as well in Smyrna, Tennessee in the same year.
In February 2000, the Sentra was revised completely and the fifth generation saw the introduction of a compact class of the vehicle. Compared to the previous generations, it was considered a remarkable upgrade in the Sentra lineup. Prior to this point, the compact class had been hold by the Nissan Altima. The Nissan Altima transformed into the mid-sized class in 2002 with no change in its wheelbase. Unlike the previous generations, the new fifth generation Sentra B15 had no resemblance with the Japanese market B-series Nissan Sunny twins.
Nissan Motors moved its production of Sentra from Smyrna, Tennessee to Aguascalientes, Mexico. However, the Smyrna plant was renovated to assemble Nissan Xierra. Before the introduction of the SE-R in 2002, the Sentra SE (2000-2001) held the top rank in the Sentra lineup with SR20DE Roller rocker motor rated at 145 hp (108 kW) and 136 lb-ft (184 Nm) of torque. In later years, Nissan replaced the GA16DE engine with the 2.6-L RB26DETT engine rated at 280 hp (209 kW). The similar engine produced 113 hp (84 kW) at 5,600 rpm and 114 lb-ft (155 Nm) at 4,400 rpm in the Brazilian market. The B15 received a lot of new equipments and features over the previous generations. It came with completely revised interior and exterior modifications. A CA (Clean Air) trim level was also released in the California with the release of fifth generation Sentra B15. The CA trim featured a double walled exhaust, 3 catalytic converters, quick catalyst warm up, and a radiator that has a special coating which actually changes ground level ozone (smog) into oxygen. The Sentra CA became the only gasoline-fueled vehicle in the world to receive the California Air Resources Board (CARB) super ultra low emission vehicle (SULEV) certification and obtain zero emission credits.
The sixth generation Sentra B16 was unleashed by Nissan Motors at the North American International Auto Show in January 2006. Environmental Protection Agency in United States declared this generation a mid-sized sedan for being having interior passenger and cargo volume 110 cubic feet against the set EPA standard of 110 cubic feet to 119 cubic feet for any car to qualify as intermediate or mid-sized car. Compared to B15 Snetra, the B16 Sentra is larger in almost all external dimensions. For instance, the B16 is 65 mm (2.3 in.) longer, 91 mm (3.2 in.) wider, and 113 mm (4.0 in.) taller. It also has a longer wheelbase of 167 mm (5.9 inch) than the previous B15 model. With the introduction of this new generation, the Nissan Versa becomes the entry level vehicle in North American lineup. The B16 model is based on Nissan’s C platform that also leads the basis for first generation Nissan Rogue, Nissan Qashqai, T31 Nissan X-Trail and Renault models.
During the period between 2007 and 2008 when the prices of the oil exceeded the $100 per barrel, Nissan thought of introducing a hybrid version of their Sentra. However, Nissan never worked on their hybrid design because of the improving oil prices and they decided to focus on their hydrogen fuel cell and electric vehicles. Nissan never have any intentions to come up with a Hybrid vehicle which is obvious from Nissan CEO, Carlos Ghosn statement that the company will never make an attempt to compete with Toyota and Honda in terms of hybrid vehicle including Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid and Honda Insight. Nissan has only one hybrid model in the shape of Altima Hybrid in American market so as to compete with the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid.