2011 Nissan Sentra Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2011 Nissan Sentra Sedan

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Nissan Sentra Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission CVT Automatic
  • Horse Power 177 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 24/30 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2011 Nissan Sentra

  • The 2011 Nissan Sentra offers a spacious interior and balances respectable power with fuel economy, but it lacks the charisma and athleticism of its rivals.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Spacious front seating; respectable fuel economy and power; intuitive control layout.

  • Cons

    Droning acceleration with CVT; flinty ride; telescoping steering wheel not available; forgettable handling in all but the SE-R.

  • What's New for 2011

    The 2011 Nissan Sentra sees only minor updates. Fuel economy has been slightly improved while safety has been enhanced, as antilock brakes and stability control are now standard across the board. A spoiler in the style of the SE-R is available for the 2.0 (with CVT), 2.0 S and 2.0 SL.

Full 2011 Nissan Sentra Review

What's New for 2011

The 2011 Nissan Sentra sees only minor updates. Fuel economy has been slightly improved while safety has been enhanced, as antilock brakes and stability control are now standard across the board. A spoiler in the style of the SE-R is available for the 2.0 (with CVT), 2.0 S and 2.0 SL.


The 2011 Nissan Sentra makes its case as a reasonable choice for a shopper in the market for a small sedan. Thanks to high fuel economy, spacious seating and plenty of features, the Sentra gets high marks in the areas that matter to most people. Nissan also offers the SE-R and SE-R Spec V trim levels for those seeking bigger thrills. Taken as a whole, however, the Sentra isn't the most inspired car in its class.

Under the hood, the Sentra is pretty competitive. Most Sentra models come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 140 horsepower while still getting up to 34 mpg on the highway. The high-performance SE-R model offers 177 hp from a larger 2.5-liter engine, while the SE-R Spec V takes this engine's output right up to 200 hp.

But the Sentra falls to midpack when its handling abilities are considered. The lower-level models of the Sentra just aren't particularly fun to drive, and there's no payoff in terms of ride quality either, as the suspension isn't very compliant over rough surfaces. Even the top-shelf Sentra SE-R Spec V trails the pack of high-performance cars with which it tries to compete, since its rear torsion-beam suspension puts it at a disadvantage compared to more lithe competitors that use independent rear suspension and offer similar power.

Overall, the 2011 Nissan Sentra is worth considering for the right price. But it's more practical than desirable. We'd suggest considering alternatives like the 2011 Honda Civic, 2011 Kia Forte and 2011 Mazda 3, all of which offer similar or better driving excitement while still retaining plenty of practicality. In a segment that's increasingly about being fun as well as being smart, the Sentra wilts next to the charms of its rivals.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Nissan Sentra is offered in six different trim levels: four variants based on the 2.0-liter engine (base, S, SR and SL) and two high-performance versions (SE-R and SE-R Spec V).

The base-model Sentra starts with 15-inch steel wheels, power windows and locks, air-conditioning, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, 60/40-split-folding rear seats and a four-speaker audio system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. The Sentra 2.0 S adds 16-inch steel wheels, a height-adjustable driver seat, cruise control, keyless entry and a six-speaker audio system with an iPod interface.

The 2.0 SR is similar but borrows some styling cues from its high-performance line mates, offering sport fascias front and rear, rocker sill extensions, foglamps, a rear spoiler and 16-inch wheels. Going with the SL gets you 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless ignition/entry, Bluetooth, and a premium Rockford Fosgate audio system with satellite radio, a USB audio input and a color display. Most of the SL's upgrades are offered on the 2.0 S and 2.0 SR as options. Other options abound for the SL, many of them bundled into packages. Highlights include a sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a navigation system.

The Sentra SE-R trim level is equipped similarly to the 2.0 SR but also includes 17-inch alloy wheels, more performance-minded suspension tuning, an aero-style body kit, cloth sport seats, the SL's color-display stereo and gauges to register not only oil pressure but also g-forces during cornering. The SE-R Upgrade package adds most of the SL's standard and optional features.

The SE-R Spec V further enhances the SE-R's sporting nature by adding higher-performance tires, an even firmer suspension with a lower ride height, larger front brakes and sportier interior trim. One drawback to the added performance of the Spec V is a structural reinforcement brace between the rear shock towers that prevents the rear seats from folding. Also available on the Spec V is an optional feature upgrade package that includes a mechanical limited-slip front differential.

Powertrains and Performance

Nissan Sentra 2.0 models come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that generates 140 hp and 147 pound-feet torque. The Sentra SE-R has a 2.5-liter engine that produces 177 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque; the Spec V bumps this to 200 hp and 180 lb-ft. In our testing, the Spec V sprinted to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, a quick time for its class.

The 2.0 Sentra base model features a six-speed manual transmission standard, with an option to upgrade to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The CVT comes standard on the 2.0 S, 2.0 SR, 2.0 SL and SE-R, with the SE-R offering shift paddles. The Spec V is only offered with a close-ratio six-speed manual.

The 2.0 Sentra models with CVT are notably frugal, achieving an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city/34 mpg highway and 30 mpg in combined driving; the manual transmission drops fuel economy noticeably to 24/31/27 mpg. The SE-R isn't too far behind, though, at 24/30/26. The Spec V checks in with a still respectable 21/28/24 mpg.


The 2011 Nissan Sentra comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. The higher-performing SE-R models come with four-wheel disc brakes, while the others have rear drums.

In government crash testing, the Nissan Sentra earned a perfect five-star rating for front passenger protection in frontal and side-impact crashes. Four stars were given for rear-seat side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Sentra its highest score of "Good" for both frontal-offset and side impacts.

Interior Design and Special Features

Inside, the Sentra is recognizably a Nissan product, with the company's trademark orange backlighting for the instruments, sporty gauges and slick-looking but easy-to-use controls. Materials quality is decent, but with just a 5-inch screen, the optional navigation system has a pretty tiny monitor.

The front seats are surprisingly spacious, comfortably accommodating taller adults. Smaller drivers, however, might feel confined due to the Sentra's high dashboard and beltline. The non-telescoping steering wheel doesn't help driver comfort either. Rear headroom and hiproom are decent, but rear legroom is a bit on the tight side.

The Sentra 2.0 models offer 60/40-split rear seating and 13.1 cubic feet of cargo room. The SE-R, however, uses a brace behind the rear seats as a chassis-strengthening measure, limiting the usefulness of its fold-down configuration.

Driving Impressions

Overall, the 2011 Nissan Sentra gets the job done on the road. Power from the 2.0-liter engine is adequate, but the CVT leads to an irritating drone from the engine during acceleration. On smooth tarmac the ride is suitable, but when things get rough, the Sentra's suspension lets in a noticeable amount of harshness. Handling is unremarkable on 2.0 models.

The SE-R Spec V does indeed have sharper handling, and its 200 hp is not inadequate performance by any means. But compared to other sport compacts in its class, even the Spec V isn't especially fun to drive. Part of the problem is the manual transmission's balky shift action, which feels awkward and imprecise relative to that of the Honda Civic Si.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

2011 sentra sr cvt 50k

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Sentra 2.0 SR 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)

My gf and I bought this car for her. She had originally bought a 2011 Corolla (mother of god that was an awful hateful machine) but someone totalled it (thankfully). So instead we got this. It was inexpensive (17.5K loaded) and didn't look as appliance-y as say a civic or corolla. Its nothing great but it does it job, its relatively reliable, has a good resale value, looks pretty good and has an insane amount of space. Just don't be fooled by those 27/34mpg numbers because you are getting far less. Verdict: The car does its job. I'd say because of the high resale value you are better off just buying a new Sentra if you find yourself wanting one though.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Nissan sentra 2.0

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Sentra 2.0 S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)

With ever increasing gas prices, my old Cobalt (29 mpg highway) was getting expensive at the pump. After browsing a bit, I found a base-model 2011 Sentra w/ CVT at my Nissan dealership. Completely void of anything except the basic necessities, an affordable price with very low mileage, I bought it after a test-drive. Like all of you, I have places to go, people to see, and with a 34 mpg highway rating, I would save a bit on gas. *Sigh* The one place I wanted to avoid is now my most popular destination: The Pump. No matter what I do, this car can't get above 27mpg on the highway. I've tried all manners of tests to improve gas mileage, to no avail.

Nissan sentra 2.0s

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Sentra 2.0 S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)

Purchased a 2011 Nissan Sentra 2.0S with only 1500 miles on it. In three weeks I'm now at 2860 miles and have a good idea what to expect from this car. The ride is VERY smooth. The Sentra's 2.0L engine/CVT combination delivers more than enough power for everyday driving. The cabin is spacious upfront but tight in the back, and well isolated from engine/road noise. Steering is on the stiff side at low speeds. Brake pedal is very responsive. Barely any body roll in any situation. The CVT is surprisingly responsive and smooth, but is very sensitive to throttle. I've been averaging 32.5 mpg overall in Winter driving conditions (Northern Canada.)

11 of 20 people found this review helpful

Liked it better than the

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Sentra 2.0 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)

I recently drove a Sentra and a Corolla back to back, for a week each, and I prefer the Sentra. You ride up higher in the Sentra, and the cabin feels roomier. The CVT has plenty of power to get up to speed and pass on the highway and feels smooth and responsive. The cabin is quiet going around town, but fairly noisy on the highway, and opening the trunk seems awkward. Overall, though, I was impressed.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

I love my sentra sl!

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Sentra 2.0 SL 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)

I have read numerous reviews from the experts about this car and there are not a lot of positive reviews about the Sentra. Many of the experts have commented on the bland exterior design and I do not agree. I think the SL with the spoiler; alloy rims; mud guards and tinted windows make this baby pop. I realize that we all have different opinions but don't let the reviews from the experts divert you from the Sentra. It's a great looking car. My family loves it. Our other car is a VW GTI. Even my 16 year old son loves this car. I get compliments on it all the time. I drove the corolla; the hyundai elantra; the civic; and the focus and the sentra is a better looking car!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

After one year with our

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Sentra 2.0 SR 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)

After 20 years owning various Hondas, we test drove nearly everything in this class/price range, and nothing even came close. This has a smoother ride than the Civic, better handling (by far!) than the Corolla, and is roomier than all others. So roomy, in fact, that the EPA classifies it as a mid-size sedan. With the larger tires on the SR model it feels as though you're driving a much bigger vehicle, and I've noticed that I'm sitting ABOVE Altima drivers! The styling is not as frumpy as some reviewers say, it seems to look different from various angles. From the front it's positively sleek. Next to it, the new Toyotas and Hondas look dull. We have no regrets.

Talk About The 2011 Sentra

2011 Nissan Sentra Discussions See all Started By

Recently bought a 2011 Sentra that had 3k on the odometer. I researched CVT's for a year prior to buying so I knew what to expect. Unfortunately, and to my disappointment, I seem to be one to those ow...

I have a 2011 Nissan Sentra. There is a distinct knocking noise that happens under the following conditions: the car has not been driven for a while, engine is cold, and I reach 19-20 miles per hour ...

I had no idea you are driving a Sentra! I've enjoyed your posts for years in the Hyundai/Kia forums. I too am a huge Hyundai fan and have watched them grow to a force in the auto industry. I've own...

Read more about the 2011 Nissan Sentra

Gas Mileage


  • 24
  • cty
  • 30
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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