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Nissan updates the 2016 Sentra with a bold new face

Nissan's compact sedan comes to the LA Auto Show with a brand new front, a massive interior overhaul and new active safety systems.

2016 Nissan Sentra

The 2016 Nissan Sentra is only receiving a mid-lifecycle refresh, but Nissan has put a great deal of effort into getting its compact sedan up to date. Debuting at the 2015 LA Auto Show, the new Sentra features a dizzying array of available equipment spread across several trim levels -- and it's pretty easy on the eyes to boot.

The Sentra is the third sedan -- following Maxima, and more recently Altima -- to receive a facelift featuring the brand's new design language, which first appeared on the Murano crossover. The "boomerang" headlights are right up front, underpinning an aesthetic freshening that extends to the rest of the front fascia, the grille and the hood. The SR trim takes the refresh one step further with a focus on sporty appointments. It adds new wheels, a rear spoiler, fog lights, a chrome-tipped exhaust and larger side sills.

This general freshening extends to the interior as well. Nearly everything's been massaged in some way. The new steering wheel pays homage to the 370Z sports coupe. The center console, instrument panel, shift knob and seat fabrics have all been upgraded to new bits as well. Higher grades will receive a 5-inch display between the gauges. Other optional equipment will include leather seating surfaces, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, a backup camera and a Bose audio system.

2016 Nissan Sentra

As for infotainment, there are three options, depending on the trim level. Base models receive an AM/FM/CD system with a USB port. The mid-range offering is a 5-inch color display with satellite radio, and the top-of-the-line unit is a 5.8-inch touchscreen display with navigation. Bluetooth is standard across the line.

There are two new connectivity systems available for the refreshed Sentra. NissanConnect Services makes use of SiriusXM (a subscription will be required) to provide customizable alerts, convenience services and remote vehicle access. It will also be able to monitor teen driving behavior with curfew and speed alerts.

Siri Eyes Free is also a new addition for 2016. This allows you to talk to Apple's personal assistant through the car's head unit, which makes placing calls and sending messages as easy as saying a few things out loud. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity are not available, but Siri Eyes Free is a good middle ground for iPhone users.

For the first time, the Sentra will now come with several available active safety systems. Adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts are all up for grabs on higher vehicle trims.

2016 Nissan Sentra

There's one available engine -- a 1.8-liter four-cylinder mated to Nissan's Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). A six-speed manual is available, but only for the most entry-level of trims. The CVT differs from a traditional unit in that Nissan has programmed several "steps" into it, to better simulate the workings of a traditional automatic with gears. That's helpful if it's your first CVT, as they can take some getting used to. All in, the Sentra's output is rated at 130 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque.

The 2016 Nissan Sentra will be available in five different trim levels -- the basic S, the economy-minded FE+ S, the mid-range SV, the sporty SL and the luxury-oriented SL. A manual-transmission S variant costs just $16,780. Additional pricing information, along with news regarding market availability, is not yet available.

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