Compact car; Built in USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,400 – $2,600*

1995 Nissan Sentra GXE

1996 Nissan Sentra GLE

1996 Nissan Sentra GXE

1997 Nissan Sentra GXE

1997 Nissan Sentra GLE

  • Optional antilock brakes (GXE, GLE)
  • Fuel economy
  • Ride
  • Acceleration (w/automatic transmission)
  • Rear-seat entry/exit
  • Rear-seat room
  • Seat comfort

Solid and refined, Sentra looks like a good value in the small-car hunt. We’d even place it on a par with the Toyota Corolla–today’s standard of comparison in the subcompact league.


Introduced after the start of the 1995 model year, Nissan’s front-drive subcompact was redesigned in new 4-door notchback form. Two-doors, which were included in the prior Sentra generation, gave way to new notchback coupes, wearing a revived 200SX label. Besides new styling–much more rounded than before–Sentras had dual airbags and anti-intrusion door beams. Four price levels went on sale: base, XE, GXE, and GLE. All models used a revised version of the prior 16-valve, 1.6-liter twin-cam 4-cylinder engine, rated at 115 horsepower. A 5-speed manual transmission was again standard; 4-speed automatic optional. Antilock brakes were optional for the GXE and GLE only.

Yearly Updates

1996 Sentra
Sentras showed virtually no change for 1996, following their redesign a year earlier.
1997 Sentra
Once again, nothing was new for Nissan’s subcompact sedan.
1998 Sentra
Nissan added a high-performance SE sedan with the 2.0-liter engine used in the 200SX SE-R, however it was badged a 1999 model. SE standard equipment included 15-inch wheels, rear disc brakes, and fog lamps. Other Sentras got a mild facelift.
1999 Sentra
Sentras received yet another facelift, this one involving headlights, grille, and front fascia. Deleted from the lineup were the base and GLE. The hot Sentra SE with the 2.0-liter engine continued unchanged. A redesigned, larger Sentra debuted during the 2000 model year.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Only one engine was available in 1995-97: a dual-overhead-cam 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, making 115 horsepower. A 5-speed manual gearbox was standard; 4-speed automatic transmission optional. In ’98, Nissan added the SE model with a 140-horsepower 2.0-liter engine. It too could have 5-speed manual shift or 4-speed automatic.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/97
Engine HP 115
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 108
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 140
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 132
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Road Test

In terms of quietness and solidity, the 1995 redesign moved Sentra from the middle to near the front of the subcompact class. Even when driven over the roughest roads, Sentras act and feel far more substantial than most small cars, with a supple yet well-controlled ride and a notable absence of body drumming and road rumble. Although wind noise rises appreciably above 60 mph, the little engine doesn’t thrash or boom at most speeds.

You’ll need to work the 1.6-liter engine hard when mated to the automatic transmission. But, when mated to the slick-shifting 5-speed manual, the Sentra feels frisky. The 140-horsepower engine in the SE has good acceleration with automatic and feels even more lively with the 5-speed.

Despite a bigger interior than prior models, Sentra remains practical for only four adults. Three grownups simply cannot fit comfortably in the back seat for longer trips. A functional, attractive dashboard gives the Sentra driver a user-friendly environment, but seats are flat and hard. Cargo space isn’t the greatest, but the trunk has a flat floor and low opening at bumper level.


Model Tested: 1996 Nissan Sentra GLE automatic

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 3
Fuel Economy - 7
Ride Quality - 3
Steering/Handling - 3
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 4
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 6

Total: 42


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
99.8 170.1 66.6 54.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
10.7 13.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.1 39.5 42.3 32.4
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Sentra 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
Rear Passenger Injury - 3


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 120
Injury 165
Theft 85

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: Poor air conditioning may be due to refrigerant leaking from the service fitting valves. (1996)
Brake noise
Description: The rear drum brakes may squeal, grind, or groan due to being overadjusted. (1995)
Dashboard lights
Description: The check-engine light comes on due to a problem with the rear heated oxygen sensor. (1995-96)
Fuel gauge
Description: The gauge may not register full due to the pump wires interfering with the float arm. (1995)
Hard starting
Description: Starting difficulty and/or flooding while starting in cold weather at higher altitudes may require a revised powertrain-control module (PCM). (1997-99)
Description: The horn may sound when the wheel is turned due a spring slipping out of place in the steering column. (1995-99)
Audio system
Description: Cellular phones can interfere and cause noise from the radio speakers if the phone is plugged into the cigarette-lighter socket near the radio rather than another 12-volt accessory socket. (1995-99)
Description: The sunroof may tilt up, but not slide back due to a problem with the lifter mechanism. (1995-96)

Recall History

1995 w/antilock brakes
Description: Hydraulic actuator was not properly purged of all air; bubbles can cause increased pedal travel and stopping distances.
Description: Front coil springs may not have sufficient corrosion resistance in areas where significant amounts of deicing salts are applied to roads.
Description: Water can enter and displace grease in wiper arm linkage joint, resulting in gradual wear over a period of time that could lead to separation of wiper linkage assembly.
Description: Does not meet illumination requirements for brake light.
Description: Stop/taillamps do not meet illumination requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 108.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.