Pros: Reliability, gas mileage, fit and finish, options
Cons: factory tires, front seat lateral support, brakes
I bought the 1995 Sentra GLE new in July, 1995, and it has been a delight ever since. It has 90K miles on it now, and has never given me a day?s trouble. It still gets over 30 MPG, even when driven briskly -- best mileage was 52 MPG on the highway. By 1995 standards, it was competitively powered, very well loaded and priced and had a longer wheelbase than some of its competition. It also handled very well during the test drive, and the 5-speed manual shifted smoothly. Standard features included a power moonroof, remote keyless entry and security system, power windows and locks, plush velour seats, cruise and all the other things you would expect in this group.
The first thing I did was toss the pathetic factory tires in favor of wider 185/60 HR14 Bridgestone Potenza RE930?s. For $250 for the set, what a HUGE difference they made in wet and dry performance, braking and acceleration. The car keeps its grip without any squeal right until its limit. As for the brakes, this non-ABS car?s pedal is a bit mushy, and the brakes grind a bit, which reduces confidence. Overall though, braking performance is good. In retrospect, I should have opted for the ABS just to get the 4-wheel discs, which would have improved pedal feel. The wider, grippier tires helped in acceleration, which is good, when the engine is turning above 2800 RPM ? but get the manual, because the automatic is sluggish. Handling is consistent and very good, even though the car leans a little more than I would like through a hard turn. The ride is smooth with a front seat passenger, but can be a little bouncy over big bumps with three rear seat passengers or heavy trunk cargo.
Fit and finish are excellent. Not even the roofliner makes a sound with the moonroof all the way open. Parts fit together well, but a little softer plastic would be a nice touch. Interior color contrasts are also good. Ergonomics are excellent, with everything exactly where you would expect it to be. And a very nice touch is that the dash is designed so that in 6 years I?ve never had glare on my gauges. The windows and moonroof came with factory tinting. I wish the steering wheel were leather, and a little fatter on this top of the line Sentra.
The electrical system could be better. I had to have the alternator replaced. Unrelated, although annoying are three lights out on the climate controls because of a loose wire.
Trunk space is adequate, and very good with the rear seats folded. The exhaust is original, as is the clutch. I change the oil religiously every 3K miles, usually at a Nissan dealer. Nissan told me to expect 250K miles from the engine based on its maintenance record.
Overall, I highly recommend this car. It has never disappointed me.