Pros: Nicely appointed interior; sporty exterior; great options
Cons: ABS not standard; AC pulls a lot of power
In my search for a new car, I closely examined many cars currently available, including the Honda Civic, VW Jetta, Toyota Corolla and the Nissan Sentra. HANDS DOWN, the Sentry was exactly what I wanted.
While the Sentra has a low MSRP in comparison to others in the compact car category, it certainly doesn't lack features. I purchased the GXE model, which comes standard with features such as power windows, locks, remote entry, CD player...the works. In addition, I elected for the "Synergy Package" which included additional options such as upgraded stereo, alloy wheels, rear spoiler and leather steering wheel/shifter. I chose a manual transmission rather than an automatic. All this for just over $15,000.00 (including destination charges & t-t&l)!
I feel confident that I got quite a steal for my money.
Nissan has a history of making very dependable and long-lasting automobiles. As a former Sentra owner, I knew I could count on this car lasting until at lesat 250,000 miles like my last one did. This was one of the deciding factors when choosing my next car. Furthermore, the Sentra has a much more attractive, comfortable and quiet interior in comparison to other cars in its class. So far, I have been averaging about 380 miles on one tank of gas--this is about half highway, half city and equates to around 35 miles per gallon. In today's age of high gasoline prices, a car with great gas mileage is certainly an asset.
The 5-speed manual transmission shifts very smoothly...no jerking back and forth when struggling with the clutch, etc. Pickup is quite impressive when shifting thru the gears from a complete stop.
As for some of the less-impressive points on this car....
The air conditioning seems to take a LOT of power away from the engine during accelerating, and even cruising (you can feel it 'kick in'). I know that with a 4-banger this is what you should expect, but it seems much more noticeable than other cars I have driven. I'm sure this will take some getting used to.
The stereo, although an upgraded unit, doesn't produce the greatest sound. This is mostly due to the inferior speakers used, especially the subwoofer (the stereo is a 7-speaker system). Deep bass sounds horrible at med-high volume. An aftermarket upgrade would solve this problem.
The dealership was unable to locate a Sentra with a synergy package and ABS brakes in the four-state area. I was surprised to see that this option was so scarce in my area, especially with our cold, icy, snowy winters. Nonetheless, I purchsed the car anyway, without the ABS.
Overall, I highly recommend this car. It's a great car, great value and will make you happy for years to come. A great investment!
=================Update on 09/27/02===================
The 'check engine' light came on when my car hit 5,000 miles. I brought it back to the dealership, and according to them there was a defect in my ECR (the computer that runs the car). This was solved by 'reprogramming' the computer and they say that I shouldn't have any more problems with my check engine light. The dealership also said that this is a known problem with 2002 Sentras, and Nissan put out a bulletin to all the dealerships advising them of this problem. Hopefully I won't have any more problems!! Of course, if I do, I'll be sure to update my review.
=================Update on 12/26/02===================
I have had my car back to the dealership three times in the past two months due to a problem with the temperature control unit (to control the interior temp of the car). After the problem was diagnosed on the first visit, I had to wait an entire month due to the part being on backorder. Finally, I got pushy and they took the part of a new car so I could control the temperature in my car again. The control knob worked for about two weeks, then began acting up again. As of yesterday, it's broken again, and I have made my third appointment to bring it in for repairs. Hopefully this problem will not persist.
Regarding the check engine light, the reprogramming seemed to do the trick as this problem has not surfaced since then.