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Old 01-24-2007, 07:29 AM   #1
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2006 Nissan Sentra

EPA City: 28
EPA Highway: 34
EPA Combined: 30

GasSavers Analysis as Tested: 30.1 mpg at 30 MPH avg.

+ Price
+ Fuel Economy
+ Simplicity

- Outdated Styling
- Lacks Basic, Standard Safety Features
- Loud Engine / Tall Gearing

A few months ago, I drove this car in an urban setting with a low number of miles tested. This was also during the pre-ScanGauge testing phase, so the results could have been skewed. At that time, the mileage was in the high teens and really left me disappointed. Since I've been renting only Economy or Compact models lately, my two choices this time around were the Silver Sentra or the Blue Sentra. After much deliberation, I chose the Sentra.

On the outside, the Nissan Sentra hasn't really changed much over the years. In the recent past, the "pocket rocket" Sentra SE-R Spec-V proved to be quite a performer, and breathed life into the line. The new SE-R calls up memories of the early 90's Sentra SE-R that basically started the "Econobox Performance" revolution. Today, between the 1.8, 1.8S and SE-R, there really isn't much in-between - a coupe is no longer offered and high feature content is reserved for the hyper SE-R. The 1.8S is a slight upgrade from the base model 1.8 and offers basic styling with an updated grille and front-end to match the aggressive lines of the Maxima and Altima. The problem is, compared to the Civic, Corolla, and even the Chevy Cobalt and Ford Focus, the styling is way out of date.

On the inside, the seats are comfortable, supportive, and offer many adjustments. The center stack is basic with tiny buttons that easily frustrate those with fat fingers. The radio is standard Nissan-spec with 3-sets of 6 presets for a total of 18 stations variable between FM and AM (my city doesn't have 18 stations, but OK). A nicely designed instrument cluster gives essential info such as a tach, speedo, fuel, and temp gauges. In addition, a nice trip-computer with outside temperature is included. Cruise buttons in the steering wheel is a plus. 2 power points give technophiles juice to power their appliances. Rear seat space worked well for a small laptop bag, but seating adults could get rather uncomfortable. The interior materials appear durable but rather Spartan. The vehicle transported myself and a client around Indianapolis with ease and no-frills (it beats the back of a Crown-Vic Taxi Cab, which would have been her other option - and the Cabbie took a rather "scenic" route on the first trip). The Nissan was a welcome ride.

Handling is a pleasant surprise with high levels of grip, little body roll, and responsive brakes (although, no ABS is standard, much to my surprise at one point during the test). Acceleration is spry but the engine is just plain loud. Out on the highway, cruising at 70 plus sounded like the engine was in 3rd gear, but alas it was the tall gearing of the 4-speed automatic. As always, a 5-speed would be a good bet. Regarding safety, don't plan on having an accident in this car - crash results are less than ideal. The bottom line is that this vehicle is an inexpensive, efficient import that makes for affordable, simple transportation. If you plan to buy a new one, get it quick as it waves bye-bye to make room for the new Versa in '07. Reliability is classic Nissan. One standard feature that I've always found intriguing is the sandwich-holding compartment in the dash! Disclaimer: meat-based and/or mayonnaise-laden snacks may spoil resulting in unwanted gastrointestinal discomfort. This reviewer recommends the PB&J, otherwise contact your physician.

The Raw Data:

2006 Nissan Sentra 1.8S
1.8L DOHC, 16V, I-4, rated @ 126 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque
Drivetrain: 4-Speed Automatic, FWD, with Torque Converter
Curb Weight: 2625 lb.

Test Data -

30.1 MPG
30 MPH Avg. Speed
3 hours, 34 Minutes Operating Time
107.3 Miles Driven
Ambient Temperature Range: 70-95F
Location: Urban Indianapolis

Conclusion: Good fuel economy, consistent with EPA testing data.

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