2012 Nissan Sentra Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Nissan Sentra Sedan

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Nissan Sentra Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 140 hp @ 5100 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 24/31 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2012 Nissan Sentra

  • The 2012 Nissan Sentra is a respectable small sedan, but newer competitors outclass it in terms of power, fuel economy, athleticism and charisma.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Spacious front seating; intuitive control layout.

  • Cons

    Aging design; droning acceleration with CVT (continuously variable transmission); harsh ride over rough surfaces; telescoping steering wheel not available; ho-hum handling in all but the SE-R.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Nissan Sentra returns unchanged, with the exception of a new Technology option package on 2.0 S models.

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

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

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

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

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

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

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Sentra

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.

Gas Mileage


  • 24
  • cty
  • 31
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2012 Nissan Sentra Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Nissan Sentra returns unchanged, with the exception of a new Technology option package on 2.0 S models.


The current-generation Sentra debuted in 2007, making the 2012 model one of the oldest small sedans available this year in terms of design. It still has some nice qualities, but overall the Sentra has been outclassed by newer and more desirable models this year.

Among the Sentra sedan's best qualities are decent fuel economy, a comfortable interior and a long list of desirable standard features and options. There are even two sporty variants, including the 200-horsepower SE-R Spec V, designed to appeal to driving enthusiasts.

Unfortunately, the list of weak points is considerably longer. Mainstream 2.0 models just don't offer a very appealing driving experience due in part to the droning created by the CVT and an outdated rear suspension design that delivers only passable handling and marginal ride quality. Even with its firmer sport suspension, the SE-R Spec V can't quite match the moves of other high-performance compacts like the Mazdaspeed 3.

While buyers looking for affordable transportation will still find the 2012 Nissan Sentra worth a look, the car ultimately feels a little long in the tooth compared to its newer or more recently refreshed competitors. Instead of the Sentra, we recommend checking out other top choices like the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Mazda 3 and Volkswagen Golf. Within this group, you'll find more engaging driving experiences, better fuel economy, more power, more attractive designs, newer features and higher levels of overall ownership satisfaction.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Nissan Sentra sedan is offered in six different trim levels, including four mainstream models based on a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (2.0, 2.0 S, 2.0 SR and 2.0 SL) and two high-performance variants powered by a 2.5-liter engine (SE-R and SE-R Spec V).

The entry-level Sentra 2.0 starts with 15-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, power windows and locks, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. The Sentra 2.0 S adds 16-inch steel wheels, power mirrors, a height-adjustable driver seat, cruise control, remote keyless entry and a six-speaker CD/MP3 audio system with an iPod interface.

The 2.0 SR includes those items and adds styling cues from its sportier siblings including distinctive front and rear fascias, side sill extensions, foglamps, a rear spoiler and 16-inch alloy wheels. Moving up to the SL gets you a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry/ignition, Bluetooth and an upgraded stereo with satellite radio and a color display.

Options on the 2.0 models vary by trim level and include leather upholstery with heated front seats (SL only) and a Convenience package that bundles keyless entry/ignition, Bluetooth and a leather-wrapped steering wheel (S/SR only). A Technology package adds a navigation system, satellite radio and an iPod interface (S/SR only). A Special Edition package includes everything in the Convenience and Technology packages plus a sunroof (SR only), while the Special Value package includes the sunroof, navigation and a rearview monitor (SL only). An Audio package includes an eight-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system (SL only).

The Sentra SE-R trim level is equipped similarly to the 2.0 SR but adds 17-inch alloy wheels, performance-oriented suspension tuning, an aero-style body kit, cloth sport seats, the SL's stereo with color display and gauges that allow the driver to monitor things like oil pressure and g-forces during cornering. The SE-R Upgrade package adds a sunroof, keyless entry/ignition, a rearview monitor, the navigation system, satellite radio and the Rockford Fosgate audio system.

The SE-R Spec V builds on the SE-R's sporting nature with more power, 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 SE-R Spec V Upgrade package that includes all the items in the SE-R Upgrade plus a mechanical limited-slip front differential.

Powertrains and Performance

2012 Nissan Sentra models with a "2.0" in their name are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 140 hp and 147 pound-feet of torque. The Sentra SE-R and SE-R Spec V get a 2.5-liter engine that produces 177 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque and 200 hp and 180 lb-ft, respectively. 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 comes fitted with a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment, with the option of a CVT. The CVT is standard on the 2.0 S, 2.0 SR, 2.0 SL and even the SE-R, which also gets steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. The Spec V is only offered with a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox.

Sentra models equipped with the 2.0-liter engine and CVT achieve an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city/34 mpg highway and 30 mpg in combined driving; with the manual transmission those numbers drop noticeably to 24/31/27 mpg. The SE-R isn't bad at 24/30/26, and even the Spec V manages a still respectable 21/28/24 mpg.


The 2012 Nissan Sentra comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. The sportier SE-R models come with four-wheel disc brakes, while the others have rear drums.

In government crash tests, the Sentra received an overall score of four stars (out of five). Within that rating, it earned three stars for overall frontal crash protection and three stars again for overall side crash 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

The Sentra's interior features unexpectedly spacious front seats that make it easy for even tall folks to get comfortable, though the lack of a telescoping steering column is a downer. The backseat is more of a mixed bag, with good headroom and hiproom offset by a shortage of legroom. Trunk space, at 13.1 cubic feet, is average for the class.

From a driver's perspective, the dashboard gets high marks for the simple and straightforward design of gauges and controls. One notable exception is the optional navigation system's smallish 5-inch screen, which requires a fair amount of squinting to read.

Driving Impressions

What you think of driving the 2012 Nissan Sentra sedan depends a great deal on what's under the hood. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder makes decent power, but the CVT creates a less-than-appealing droning sound when accelerating. Handling is just passable. The ride quality is fine on smooth roads but becomes a bit rough over broken pavement.

As you'd expect, the SE-R Spec V is another story altogether, with abundant acceleration and noticeably sharper handling. Some of the fun is lost due to the manual transmission's balky action that can't compare to the precise feel of shifters in competitors like the Honda Civic Si.

Talk About The 2012 Sentra

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