Nissan North America Inc. takes the wraps off its new '07 Sentra sedan today at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The compact car has been redesigned six times, although this is the first time in almost 10 years.

After a year's delay due to negative consumer group feedback on an earlier design for the car, the Sentra is set to go on sale next fall in the U.S.

Nissan plans to price the car at about $15,000 for a well-equipped model with power door locks and windows, side-impact curtain airbags and air conditioning.

The Sentra currently begins at $13,100 for a 1.8L base model, while the more upscale 1.8 S trim is $15,100.

The Sentra moves from the MS platform to Nissan's C platform, which is the basis for the X-Trail small cross/utility vehicle sold in Canada and other global markets.

'07 Nissan Sentra

The '07 Sentra will have a more powerful base engine, with a 2L DOHC 4-cyl. replacing the current 1.8L DOHC I-4.

Nissan says the 2L has an estimated 135 hp, up from 126 hp with the 1.8L. Torque is expected to top 140 lb.-ft. (189 Nm) with the new 2L, an increase of 11 lb.-ft. (15 Nm) from the 1.8L.

The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual, while Nissan's Xtronic continuously variable transmission is optional.

Wheelbase has increased by 5.9 ins. (15 cm) from the previous-generation Sentra to 105.7 ins. (268.5 cm), while 97.7 cu.-ft. (2.8 cu.-m) of passenger volume represents a more than 9.0-cu.-ft. (0.3-cu.-m) boost from the old model.

Overall width, which has grown 3.2 ins. (8.1 cm), is comparable to that of many midsize sedans, Nissan says.

Cargo volume increases 1.6 cu.-ft. (0.05 cu.-m) to 13.1 cu.-ft. (0.4 cu.-m).

The front suspension remains an independent strut type with a stabilizer bar. Nissan uses a torsion beam setup with integral stabilizer bar in the vehicle's rear.

Brakes consist of power-assisted discs up front and drums in the rear; antilock brakes with electronic brake force distribution are available.

Notable safety features include Nissan's standard advanced airbag system, which has dual-stage front supplemental bags and an occupant classification system for the front passenger seat. The system also integrates standard front and rear side curtain airbags, dual front seat-mounted side airbags, front seat active head restraints and tire pressure monitoring.

Nissan also employs its Zone Body construction with front and rear crumple and occupant zones.

The exterior look carries on Nissan's signature design language, already seen on the Altima and Maxima sedans, while the interior is redesigned with luxury appointments, Nissan says.

The auto maker promises a more contemporary interior design, with an instrument panel layout that incorporates the transmission shift lever. A notable interior feature is an optional integrated overhead compact disc holder.

Other interior features include 60/40 split double-fold rear seats; available leather seating; larger front seats, with an available height adjuster for the driver; electric actuated heating and ventilation controls, with a 26-step fan speed control; and interior accent lighting.

Other features include intelligent keyless entry, a Bluetooth hands-free phone and Rockford Fosgate 8-speaker premium audio system.

Satellite radio, MP3 playback and auxiliary input are available audio system features.

The Sentra comes with standard 15-in. wheels, while 16-in. wheels are standard on the 2.0 S trim.

Nissan will continue to build the Sentra at its Aguascalientes, Mexico, assembly plant.

cschweinsberg@primediabusiness.com