Get To Know 2 of Nissan’s Top Compacts

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Nissan’s rich history, dating back just about a century, is matched only by its rich variety of vehicles. Today’s lineup ranges from the tiny Nissan March / Micra to the Nissan NV350 commercial van, and includes everything in between, such as the subject of today’s article comparing used Nissan compact cars, the Nissan Sunny and Nissan Tiida.


When it comes to the name “Nissan Sunny,” however, the history can be a confusing one to recall, as the “Sunny” name has been used on Nissan products as diverse as subcompact sedans, coupes, and pickups, as well as compact sedans and coupes, not all of which were the same vehicles. Through all of the confusing vehicles bearing the “Sunny” marque, however, they all shared similar platforms.

The Nissan Sunny started out as a subcompact car in 1966, growing to compact car status by the early 1990s. In 2004, however, Nissan Sunny, at least in Japan, was retired, to be replaced by the Nissan Tiida. Nissan Tiida is a compact hatchback, while the Nissan Tiida Latio is a compact sedan, based on the same platform. Interestingly, the Nissan Tiida Latio, sold in China, and the Renault Samsung SM3, sold in the Middle East, are sold as Nissan Sunny to this day. There are certain to be others as time goes on but, for the purposes of this article, we’ll stick to the Nissan Sunny for the Japanese market, the compact sedan you’ll find in our stocklist.

Nissan Sunny

In Japan, Nissan Sunny dates back as far as the 1966 Datsun Sunny subcompact car and, in growing into a compact car, has always been marketed as an economical family vehicle. Powered by small and efficient engines, Nissan Sunny has always been easy to own and highly reliable.

Making the switch to front wheel drive in the early 1980s, Nissan Sunny retained its status as a desirable compact economy car. Unfortunately, retaining the angular 1980s styling through the 1990s did little to build on its popularity. Updated styling in the late 1990s helped to restore Sunny’s desirability, as did updated engine options, which were more powerful, yet just as efficient as always.

Used Nissan Sunny, typically from the last generation, were produced between 1998 and 2004, and featured somewhat retro styling, back to the 1980s angular design, though not as severe. This latest generation Nissan Sunny was powered by a choice of 1.3 ℓ, 1.5 ℓ, or 1.8 ℓ gasoline engines, as well as a 2.2 ℓ diesel engine, and paired with a four-speed automatic transmission or a choice of manual transmissions, in five- or six-speed flavors. Sunny was also available in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive options.

Nissan Tiida

In 2004, Nissan retired the Sunny in favor of the new Nissan Tiida and Nissan Tiida Latio, which debuted the same year. Nissan Tiida is a five-door hatchback, and Nissan Tiida Latio is a four-door sedan, and both are available with a range of engine / transmission combinations, as well as front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Produced until 2012, the first-generation Nissan Tiida and Nissan Tiida Latio were available with 1.5 ℓ, 1.6 ℓ, and 1.8 ℓ four-cylinder gasoline engines, as well as a 1.5 ℓ four-cylinder diesel engine. Transmission options included the carryover four-speed automatic transmission from the Sunny, and a new CVT (constant velocity transmission). The six-speed manual transmission was reserved as an option for the 1.8 ℓ engine. Used Nissan Tiida are typically from this first generation.

Used Nissan Tiida

Comparing the Nissan Sunny and Nissan Tiida

Nissan Sunny had always been marketed as a classy economy car, a sedan for budget-conscious families who still wanted a little bit of class. As such, used Nissan Sunny come with upscale, but not luxurious features, design focused instead on roomy interior layout and comfortable accommodations.

Considering that Nissan Tiida was built to replace Nissan Sunny, it makes sense that it was also aimed at young and budget-conscious families. Nissan Tiida, however, brings those families into the 21st Century with premium and modern styling, as well as some of the most fuel-efficient powertrains on the market. Tiida feels luxurious, roomy, and modern, but isn’t priced to break the bank, which makes it a great acquisition for the modern professional and his family.

Compared to the Nissan Sunny, the Nissan Tiida comes in a more modern package for a more modern and discerning driver. The fluid design language speaks of aerodynamic and dynamic performance, yet is more economical than ever, thanks to the addition of the CVT to the lineup. Thanks to a longer wheelbase and higher roofline, Tiida offers more space for driver and passengers alike. This spaciousness is most noticeable in the rear seating positions, whose legroom has been extended by nearly four inches (100 mm).

If you’re looking into used Nissan compact cars, both Nissan Sunny and Nissan Tiida are good choices. They’re both exceptionally fuel-efficient and comfortable, as well as affordable for young families in need of reliable transportation. While Sunny may run slightly cheaper than Tiida, if only for age, Tiida is roomier and more modern-looking. We recommend both, but taller passengers may enjoy Tiida more than Sunny.

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