Used 2006 Nissan Sentra Review
Edmunds expert review
Despite its age, the 2006 Nissan Sentra offers a decent amount of equipment for the money and there's plenty of fun to be had with the SE-R models. However, newer competitors are vastly superior when it comes to interior room and overall refinement.
What's new for 2006
When Nissan introduced the current-generation Sentra in 2000, it hailed it as an inexpensive sedan that broke the mold for economy cars by offering sporty styling, numerous features and a fun-to-drive character. It may have sounded like the usual marketing hype back then, but compared to its competition at the time, it was in fact a more entertaining car to drive than most of the lifeless cars in its category.
Heading into its seventh year of production, the 2006 Nissan Sentra is still a solid sedan, but its competition has improved considerably. It's still one of the fastest economy cars on the market in SE-R, but it's outclassed by its peers in most other areas. The Sentra's biggest drawback is its cramped cabin. It's hard to find a comfortable driving position and legroom is almost nonexistent in the backseat. A decent features list and the solid performance of the SE-R models still make the Nissan Sentra a viable choice, but most small-car buyers would be better served by the Civic or Mazda 3. A fully redesigned Sentra is coming for 2007, but until then small-car shoppers should explore the many other candidates in this class.
Trim levels & features
There are four Nissan Sentra models available -- 1.8, 1.8 S, SE-R and SE-R Spec V. The 1.8 is truly an economy car as it offers only the most basic features. Moving up to the 1.8 S scores you power windows, locks and mirrors; remote keyless entry; a split-folding rear seat; cruise control; a trip computer; air conditioning; an eight-way adjustable driver seat; and a CD stereo. The base SE-R performance model features larger 16-inch wheels, foglights and a rear spoiler, while the top-line SE-R Spec V gets even larger 17-inch wheels, sport seats and optional Brembo brakes.
Performance & mpg
There are two engines available on the front-drive Nissan Sentra. The base 1.8 and 1.8 S both use a 126-horsepower, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine. The 1.8-liter makes most of its torque at low engine speeds, resulting in good in-town response. The SE-R model uses a larger 2.5-liter engine that makes 165 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. The Spec V bumps those figures to 175 and 180, respectively. The 1.8 and 1.8 S come standard with a five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic is standard on the SE-R and optional on the 1.8 and 1.8 S. The high-strung SE-R Spec V packs an exclusive six-speed manual only.
The 1.8 and 1.8 S have front disc/rear drum brakes, while the SE-R and SE-R Spec V have discs all around. ABS and front seat-mounted side airbags are optional on all models, except the 1.8. In NHTSA testing, the Nissan Sentra earned four stars (out of a possible five) for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal impacts. However, only two stars were given for front-occupant protection in side impacts. The IIHS gave the car an "Acceptable" (second highest) score for its performance in the 40-mph frontal offset crash test.
In 1.8 and 1.8 S trim, there is little to get excited about in terms of the driving experience, but there's enough power for daily commutes and errands. The SE-R model adds serious power that makes the 2006 Nissan Sentra one of the fastest cars in its class. The upgraded suspension on the SE-R and Spec V makes for a bumpier ride on the highway, but enthusiast drivers will appreciate the improved cornering ability.
The dash is laid out in a clean fashion, making it easy to find and use the controls. Seat comfort is not one of the Sentra's strengths. The front seats have a short seat-bottom cushion and a limited adjustment range, while the cramped rear seats put the squeeze on even average-size passengers. Trunk space is listed at 11.6 cubic feet, placing it near the bottom of the compact sedan segment.
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.