2018 Nissan Sentra

2018 Nissan Sentra NISMO Review

Good interior space, a user-friendly cabin and a buyer-friendly price tag set the Sentra apart.
6.9 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Will Kaufman
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The Nissan Sentra offers straightforward practicality and an appealing price. There's plenty of cargo space and lots of room for passengers. It's also an easy car to live with thanks to simple controls and a smooth driving experience.

That said, nothing about the Sentra stands out in the class. Its base engine is one of the slowest available, and even the optional turbocharged engine lags behind some competitors in terms of outright performance. There are also rival sedans that offer nicer interiors and greater degrees of comfort and technology.

A good example is the Kia Forte, which has an extensive list of optional features for a reasonable price. There's also the all-wheel-drive Subaru Impreza that has many excellent active safety features and driver aids available. Finally, the Honda Civic, when equipped with its available turbocharged 1.5-liter engine, is our overall favorite vehicle in the class.



What's new for 2018

For 2018, Nissan has made minor adjustments to the Sentra's feature availability. Automatic emergency braking for imminent collisions is now standard on most Sentra trim levels.

We recommend

Unless you're willing to opt for a manual transmission, the price difference between the automatic-equipped S and SV is so minor that we'd recommend going with the Sentra SV. It adds nicer upholstery and interior trimmings, a better stereo, dual-zone climate control, and a few other appealing upgrades without adding too much to the price. Though we're not fond of the sluggish base engine, the upgraded turbo engine is a pricey addition that lessens the Sentra's value proposition, especially compared to competitive cars.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Nissan Sentra sedan is offered in S, SV, SR, SR Turbo, Nismo, and SL trim levels. A 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 124 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque (130 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque with the S trim's manual transmission) is standard on the S, SV, SR and SL models. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the S, and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is optional on that model and standard on all other Sentras.

The base Sentra S comes with 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, cruise control, trip computer, a 5-inch central touchscreen, a rearview camera and Bluetooth audio connectivity. Automatic emergency braking for imminent front collisions is now also standard on all CVT-equipped Sentra trim levels, except the Nismo.

Stepping up to the SV gets you 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and ignition, upgraded cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-speaker sound system and satellite radio.

The SR gets 17-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, a sport body kit including a rear spoiler, LED headlights (low beams), foglights, adaptive cruise control, heated mirrors, unique cloth upholstery and heated front seats.

For both the SV and SR, heated front seats and side mirrors, a sunroof and a 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation are optional.

The SR Turbo takes the SR trim and adds a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder (188 hp and 177 lb-ft), mated to a choice of a six-speed manual or a specially calibrated CVT with a manual-shift mode. Nissan also adds a sport-tuned suspension, recalibrated steering, upgraded front brakes and a sunroof.

Optional upgrades for the SR and SR Turbo include leather upholstery, a power driver seat, an auto-dimming mirror, a power sunroof, the bigger touchscreen with navigation, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and an eight-speaker Bose audio system with  NissanConnect app connectivity.

The Sentra Nismo comes with the SR Turbo's features and adds a lot of Nismo-branded trim pieces such as a spoiler, 18-inch wheels, exhaust, grille and badges, along with a unique interior appearance package. It also comes standard with NissanConnect and the larger touchscreen, as well as the eight-speaker Bose stereo system.

The top-of-the-line SL loses the SR's sport-themed flourishes, keeps the 1.8-liter engine, and adds unique 17-inch alloy wheels plus the rear disc brakes, leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat (with power lumbar adjustment), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a moonroof, a larger 5.8-inch touchscreen with navigation and voice controls, NissanConnect, and the premium eight-speaker Bose stereo system. A blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert is also standard.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Nissan Sentra SL (1.8L inline-4 | CVT automatic | FWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Nissan Sentra has received some revisions, including a more powerful, optional turbocharged engine and some trim-level and package feature adjustments. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Nissan Sentra.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall6.9 / 10

Driving

6.0 / 10

Acceleration5.0 / 10
Braking6.0 / 10
Steering7.0 / 10
Handling6.5 / 10
Drivability7.5 / 10

Comfort

7.5 / 10

Seat comfort6.5 / 10
Ride comfort7.5 / 10
Noise & vibration7.5 / 10

Interior

8.0 / 10

Ease of use8.5 / 10
Getting in/getting out8.5 / 10
Roominess7.0 / 10
Visibility8.0 / 10
Quality7.5 / 10

Driving6.0

Performance is not a Sentra strong suit — far from it. Acceleration is among the worst in the class, and braking and handling are simply acceptable. But it is free of overtly bad habits, so while unremarkable to drive, it isn't irritating during A-to-B transport either.

Acceleration5.0

The base 1.8-liter engine offers poor acceleration whether from a standstill or when passing, with a 0-60-mph time of 10 seconds that makes the Sentra one of the slowest cars in the class. The significantly stronger turbocharged 1.6-liter should deliver a much better experience.

Braking6.0

The Sentra's overall performance inspires confidence, although the brakes require a light foot in traffic, where inputs can be sensitive. In our simulated-panic stop from 60 mph, the Sentra posted average performance for the class.

Steering7.0

The Sentra thankfully lacks the heavy at low speeds, light at high speeds steering effort of some other Nissan products. Effort is appropriate for easy commuting and maneuvering around parking lots. There's sufficient feedback, but class leaders do better.

Handling6.5

Body roll is largely managed, and overall handling is adequate although rivals provide a greater sense of control. The Sentra is just generally outmatched by most competitors on a windy road, though the stiffer-sprung SR Turbo and Nismo trims should fare better.

Drivability7.5

The Sentra gets under way smoothly and humbly goes about its business in traffic or when running errands. This is an easy car to drive as long as you aren't in a hurry.

Comfort7.5

The Sentra can be a quiet, comfortable-riding compact sedan. The trouble is that many rivals are as well, and they also provide superior marks in most other areas. The oddly high-mounted seats were an annoyance for several taller editors.

Seat comfort6.5

The seats are mounted high. This might give a slightly more commanding view of the road, but it cuts into the available headroom, especially for drivers of above-average height. The front seats are also quite flat yet simultaneously feel overstuffed with seat material.

Ride comfort7.5

Ride comfort is a strong suit for the Sentra. Small-but-sharp bumps in city driving are felt in the cabin, but not unbearably so, and the highway ride is smooth and composed.

Noise & vibration7.5

The Sentra can be impressively quiet for a small sedan as long as you go easy on the gas pedal. If you don't, the underpowered engine and CVT conspire to produce loud droning noises a bit reminiscent of an enormous blender.

Interior8.0

The Sentra is straightforward and user-friendly, with controls that don't require navigating any high-tech interface. Visibility is also quite good, and the trunk is large. It's one of the more sensible compact cars.

Ease of use8.5

The infotainment screen is small but refreshingly easy to use with straightforward, easy-to-read virtual buttons. Everything important is within reach from the driver's seat including the logical, albeit small, steering wheel controls.

Getting in/getting out8.5

Getting in and out of both the front and back seat is a breeze (the oddly high seats help in this way at least). Large door openings and high windows make for easy entry into this tall-roofed sedan.

Roominess7.0

The Sentra has a large back seat with plenty of space for adults. The seats, especially the front passenger one, are mounted noticeably high. People of above-average height reported feeling out of place. Shorter drivers may appreciate the view.

Visibility8.0

Large windows and mirrors provide good all-around visibility, and the standard rearview camera is a nice addition.

Quality7.5

The Sentra lacks the polish of a Honda Civic or VW Golf but is nevertheless good for the segment. Frequently touched surfaces (like the center console and elbow rests) are well-padded and made from quality materials. The plastic switchgear doesn't feel cheap or fragile.

Utility8.0

The 15.1-cubic-foot trunk is large for the class the class, and the Sentra's 60/40-split-folding seat adds some versatility. Center console storage and cupholders are sufficient, but nothing clever. The rear seat has clearly marked LATCH anchors.

Technology

The infotainment system is easy to use, but Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are missing. Automatic emergency braking is now standard on all trims, and a full suite of active safety technologies and driver aids are available on higher trim levels.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.