Reviews

2012 Nissan Sentra Walk Around

The Nissan Sentra is larger than the subcompact Versa and smaller than the midsize Altima. From every angle, it looks like the latest-generation Nissans. With its crisp character lines, the Sentra resembles a scaled down Altima. We like the new front end; it manages to look both cleaner and richer and more upscale, all at once. The previous look was sort of angular, with the fog lamps in sharp-edged openings and what seemed like a lot of cuts and creases, but the new front end is smoother. The grille opening looks like that of a more expensive car, and the integration of the grille, lower air intake, headlamps and fog lamps is much cleaner and less busy.

The new look also works well with the short overhangs, which give the Sentra a sporty, assertive appearance.

Along the sides, only widened bodywork around the wheels breaks up the clean, attractive doors and quarter panels. A character line rises from the front door back to a tall trunk, giving the Sentra a bit of a rake. Large door openings make it easy to climb in and out, and a high, distinctive rear deck offers ample trunk space.

The contemporary Nissan appearance continues at the rear, where the high trunk lid is flanked by white and red taillights that have a Nissan family look. The long roof line resolves itself in a short trunk lid, extended on most models by a small horizontal spoiler that incorporates the center brake light.

Sentra SE-R models have more aggressive front and rear fascias, side sill extensions that visually lower the car, and beefy, low-profile 17-inch tires on alloy wheels.

No matter what Sentra you choose, you'll make no compromises in looks, comfort, safety or style, to have this inexpensive compact car in your driveway.

Interior

The Nissan Sentra is a good choice for drivers who spend a lot of time in their cars. For example, the locking glovebox is deep enough to hold a laptop computer. There is also an available integrated removable CD holder on the headliner above the driver's sun visor. The front of the center console has a tray for items such as cell phones, as well as two cupholders that are adjustable for 20-ounce bottles or 32-ounce mega cups. Pockets with see-through netting are provided on the backs of the front seats for passengers' cell phones and iPods.

The Sentra's interior volume measures 97.4 cubic feet, more than many of its competitors. The trunk measures 13.1 cubic feet (12.0 cubic feet for the SE-R Spec V). To increase cargo space, the 60/40 split rear seat can be folded flat, to open up the space into the trunk (due to a structural bulkhead, the SE-R Spec V lacks the folding seat). There's no problem fitting a bicycle or maybe two back there, through the trunk; two friendly people could even sleep back there.

We've spent time with a bare-bones Sentra 2.0 with cloth seats, a fully equipped 2.0 SL with leather, and a SE-R Spec V with its sport seats. We liked all of them.

We loved the supportive feel of the cloth seats; they embrace your back like a good hug, and are neither too firm nor too soft. The available leather is plush for a compact car; there's no reason to ride in a penalty box just because you're trying to save gas. The SE-R's sport seats are better bolstered and have a grippy fabric to keep the driver in place during enthusiastic cornering. They also get more flair, with special stitching and red seat belts on the Spec V.

The four-speaker sound system in the 2.0 was okay, while the eight-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system offered in the 2.0 SL was great. The optional SD-card-based navigation system includes a 5-inch color touch screen display and XM NavTraffic (XM subscription required, sold separately).

A long wheelbase with short overhangs results in agreeable legroom for the rear-seat passengers. The back seats are relatively flat, however, so they won't be comfortable for long trips.

The instrument panel might be the nicest aspect of the interior. Again, it is very stylish, and functional, too. The instruments are sharp, the controls easy to operate, and the center stack features a strong-looking shift lever rising out at an agreeable angle, where it's easy to grab and operate. The trim around it all is a handsome flat silver. SE-R models get two additional gauges at the top of the center stack, one for oil pressure and one that displays acceleration and deceleration g forces.

Request More Info

/* DNA4535761 ddcdrewc */
true true true true true true true true true true true true true true