Next Nissan Sentra To Become More Altima-Like

Nissan has big plans for the Sentra. For the next-generation of this compact sedan, Nissan is aiming to double or even triple sales . But to accomplish this lofty goal, Nissan will model the new Sentra after a more successful sedan – the mid-size Altima. Not a bad move given the Altima’s popularity, Nissan Maryland says.

“We miss the heart of the market right now,” said Al Castignetti, Nissan Division vice president of sales. “A lot of people reject the Sentra because of its looks. It’s not a bad car; it’s a great car. But it is not a natural progression to move down to it from the Altima.”

This year, Nissan will sell around 100,000 Sentras. While that’s certainly not terrible, it’s far less than compact rivals from Toyota and Honda. There’s definitely room in the marketplace, Nissan Dealer Seattle says.

Although the next-gen Sentra is still two years away, Nissan says it will have a much closer family resemblance to the Altima. The importance of a close aesthetic link can be seen in the lineups of Nissan’s rivals, between the Toyota Camry and the smaller Corolla, or between the Honda Accord and the Civic. Ford hopes to muscle in on the top competitors’ sales with the new Focus, Kansas City Ford Dealers say.

While the Altima continues to be a popular nameplate in Nissan’s lineup, there’s still work to be done with that model as well, admits Castignetti.

“Toyota might sell around 400,000 Camrys and 300,000 Corollas; Honda can sell 350,000 Accords and 300,000 Civics. We sell 270,000 to 300,000 Altimas but 100,000 Sentras. That’s a big gap in our portfolio.”

He added: “If we can sell 300,000 Altimas and 300,000 Sentras, that dramatically changes our whole portfolio. And with the next vehicle, I think we’ve got the opportunity to do that.”