Used 1999 Nissan Sentra Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1999

Fresh front-end styling, a Limited Edition Option Package for GXE models and some new paint colors constitute the changes for 1999.

Vehicle overview

Though it is refined, roomy and reliable, Nissan's smallest sedan has not been the success Nissan hoped for during the past three years. Offered in three trim levels (XE, GXE and SE-L), the current generation Sentra debuted in 1995 and has failed to become a hot seller because of the car's frumpy looks. In defense of its styling elements, Nissan attributes its low 0.33 coefficient of drag to the car's high rear decklid, steeply raked windshield and low hood line. The design also provides enhanced visibility and a spacious trunk. This year, at least Nissan gave the car's front-end a once-over, adding a new headlight treatment, grille and front fascia.

Unlike its exterior, the Sentra's guts have never been a problem. An impressive 1.6-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine that cranks out 115 horsepower and 115 foot-pounds of torque powers the XE and GXE Sentras. The top-of-the-line SE-Limited model is equipped with the 2.0-liter DOHC 140-horsepower engine that first appeared on the now defunct 200SX SE-R sport coupe. Smart customers looking for a fast set of wheels will pick this engine over the offerings from Honda and Toyota; the Civic and Corolla can't touch the Sentra SE-L in the fun-to-drive department.

The GXE trim level has been tinkered with this year as well and is now available with a Limited Edition Option Package that includes an AM/FM/CD audio system, remote keyless entry with selective unlocking, 14-inch alloy wheels, sport seats, tachometer, door ajar warning light, front stabilizer bar, floor mats, body-color mirrors, door handles and side moldings, and a Limited Edition badge.

Other pluses in the Sentra's credit column include standard air conditioning, power door locks and power windows on all but the XE. All models include a tilt steering wheel, two-speed intermittent wipers, side-window demisters and rear window defoggers. In 1999, Nissan adds three new exterior paint color options for Sentra buyers: Charcoal Mist, Vivid Teal and Ruby Pearl.

To our eyes, the Sentra's styling is still plain vanilla, but beneath its countenance, consumers will find a willing, reliable vehicle that is surprisingly well assembled and quite affordable. And if your taste in driving runs toward the quick and curvy, you won't be able to find a better pocket rocket than the Sentra SE-L.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.