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Keeping Company with Sedans

Published on Mon, Nov 25, 2019

By: Brian Kennedy

Nissan has figured out what they’re going to be, at least for now: they’re the sedan company. This comes on the heels of last summer’s introduction of the new Altima and the Los Angeles showing of the all-new Versa and Stanza models as well as the Maxima.

Why buy a Nissan over the competition, which is down to the Civic and some Kia and Hyundai offerings, mostly? Because the Versa is a great deal for an entry-level runabout. The car features a 7” touch screen and USB ports and starts under $15,000. That’s with AC, a five-speed manual with pushbutton start and keyless entry. It can be had with a CVT for about $16,400.

Nissan’s new Versa at the LA Auto Show (Brian Kennedy)
Nissan’s new Versa at the LA Auto Show (Brian Kennedy)

If you want to go up a step, there are trim levels like the SR, which has alloy wheels, LED display, and more. That’s still only about $18,000. All of that, and 40mpg highway, 35 combined city/highway.

The Sentra is cool and different, and in the top SR trim, decked out nicely with two-tone paint with an available moon roof and the ultra-luxe quilted leather interior that was made popular by customizers back in the day and Genesis more recently. The interior has an 8-inch “floating” digital display, a flat-bottomed racing steering wheel, and tight fit and finish. The three trims are S, SV (also available with a Premium Package), and SR, which has a sport suspension and the choice of three different two-tone paint jobs. No pricing is yet announced for the Sentra.

Nissan’s new Sentra was unveiled at the LA Auto Show (Nissan Motors)
Nissan’s new Sentra was unveiled at the LA Auto Show (Nissan Motors)

One reason to go for this rather than a Civic would be that Nissan is holding on to the naturally aspirated formula, using a 2.0-liter engine. No turbo to break or lag or do whatever else they do. A Nissan rep did tell me that over time, the company will be shifting to smaller-displacement engines. The new Sentra will be available in early 2020, February to be exact. Depending on trim level, the car will have a type C USB port and two other USBs.

Nissan Intelligent Mobility—the suite of safety features coming to be more common on all new cars, with rear automatic braking thrown in—comes standard on these sedans. Nissan’s out front on the technology end of the market, and they’re proud of it.

Reporters swarm the Sentra at the LA Auto Show’s press preview (Nissan Motors)
Reporters swarm the Sentra at the LA Auto Show’s press preview (Nissan Motors)

But that still leaves the question—why sedans? The answer is simple, as the company codes it:  the segment fits customer lifestyles, and if you’ve noticed, not that many companies are seeing to that market given the Crossover craze that’s assumed massive proportions. Remember, Ford’s only car (as opposed to trucks) is the Mustang (once the Fusion goes away, which it shortly will). No small cars are sold by the Blue Oval. Chevy has a couple. Buick’s Regal is about to disappear. In fact, everywhere you look, it’s trucks and trucklets. Nissan offers something different.

So Nissan might be just the brand to consider. And no, the Cube isn’t coming back. I asked.

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