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Pros & Cons

  • Spacious interior
  • Excellent outward visibility
  • Unrefined transmission choices




Critics' Rating: 6.7
Performance: 6.8
Interior: 7.8
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.4
Safety: 7.6
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2012 Nissan Sentra Overview

Reviewers said that the 2012 Nissan Sentra doesn’t offer as comfortable a ride as many of its small car rivals. However, some appreciated that the sportier SE-R trim offers better handling than the base model. Similarly, critics said the four-cylinder engine in the base model is adequate, while the SE-R model feels much faster, thanks to a more powerful four-cylinder engine. Auto journalists also offered mixed reviews of the Sentra’s transmission choices. One reviewer said that the manual transmission doesn’t feel especially precise, while another noted that the available continuously variable transmission (CVT) is noisy. Still, other reviewers said the CVT makes the most of the base four-cylinder engine’s power. The Sentra achieves up to 27/34 mpg city/highway, which is OK for the class.

Critics didn’t say much about the Sentra’s five-seat interior when it was new, noting that the materials used are appropriate for the class. Some reviewers were impressed with the cabin’s spaciousness, though, and mentioned that the Sentra offers good outward visibility and comfortable seats. They also said the audio and climate controls are easy to use, but some test drivers wrote that the available navigation system has a small screen, which can be difficult to read. The base Sentra comes standard with a four-speaker stereo with an auxiliary audio jack, while available features include leather seats, heated front seats, satellite radio, Bluetooth, a USB port and a sunroof. The Sentra offers 13.1 cubic feet of trunk space, which is comparable to other sedans’ trunk space in the class.

See the full 2012 Nissan Sentra specs »

Other Cars to Consider

The 2012 Chevrolet Cruze has a much better safety score than the Sentra, and the Eco model earns better fuel economy ratings than the Sentra. Reviewers liked its spacious, comfortable seats, well-textured interior materials and generous trunk space.

The 2012 Ford Focus gets slightly better fuel economy than the Sentra. The Focus earned high marks with critics for its athletic handling and precise steering.

Compare the Sentra, Cruze and Focus »


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