2018 Nissan Sentra

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MSRP: $16,990 - 25,790

2018 Nissan Sentra Review

The 2018 Nissan Sentra resides near the bottom of our compact car rankings. While it has one of the most spacious interiors in the class, the Sentra lacks the features, interior quality, and driving engagement you get from many rivals.

7.6

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.5
Performance: 6.7
Interior: 8.0
Safety: 9.3
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent passenger and cargo space
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Outdated, drab cabin
  • Underwhelming engines

Is the Nissan Sentra a Good Car?

The Nissan Sentra isn't a bad car, but it's not good either. It is one of the most spacious compact cars, and its technology is easy to use. However, there are few other attributes worth crowing about. Most other compact cars are more fun to drive, more upscale, or more feature-laden than this Nissan, and some rivals are all three.

Should I Buy the Nissan Sentra?

The Sentra's main selling point is the fact that it costs less than almost every competitor. Unless price is your only consideration, you should avoid the Sentra. Instead, check out rivals like the Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus.

Compare the Sentra and Focus »

Should I Buy a New or Used Nissan Sentra?

The Nissan Sentra was last fully redesigned for the 2013 model year. The 2016 model got an updated suspension and a power driver's seat. The 2017 model added a new trim, the SR Turbo. It's just like the SR trim, only it features a 188-horsepower turbocharged engine. There are no notable changes for 2018.

You can potentially save thousands of dollars by shopping for a used car instead of a new one, though be aware that older models may not have as many features. If you're interested in a used model, be sure to visit our overviews of the 2016 Nissan Sentra and 2017 Nissan Sentra. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Sentra »
We Did the Research for You: 50 Reviews Analyzed

To help you decide if the Nissan Sentra is the right new car for you, we've gathered and analyzed 50 professional reviews. We've also included information about the Sentra's fuel economy, safety scores, features, and more to give you an idea of its strengths and weaknesses.

This overview uses research and data from every year of the current generation, which spans the 2013 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our editorial staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To keep our reviews impartial, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an external partner places and sells the ads on our site.

How Much Does the Nissan Sentra Cost?

The Sentra's base price of $16,990 is right in line with competitors like the Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus. There are six trims: S, SV, SR, SR Turbo, SL, and Nismo. A fully equipped SL model costs $23,440, while the performance-oriented Sentra Nismo is priced at $25,790. The top trims of most rivals cost more than the Sentra SL, and most performance models are pricier than the Sentra Nismo, too. However, they offer much more power and sharper handling.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Nissan dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Nissan deals page.

Nissan Sentra Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Nissan Sentra or Hyundai Elantra?

The Hyundai Elantra actually has a lower base price than the Sentra, and it's a better car to boot. The Elantra is available in a hatchback or sedan body style, with the hatchback providing outstanding cargo space. Compared to its Nissan rival, the Elantra has better fuel economy, a richer cabin, and available features that you can't get in the Sentra. The Nissan has roomier rear seats, but that's about where its advantages over the Hyundai end.

Which Is Better: Nissan Sentra or Ford Focus?

The Ford Focus is available in sedan and hatchback body styles. It offers a user-friendly infotainment system, and its higher trims are much more upscale than any Sentra. The Focus gives you several powertrain options, including some performance-oriented trims that make driving more fun. On top of it all, the Focus has a slightly higher safety score than the Sentra.

Compare the Sentra, Elantra, and Focus »

Sentra Interior

How Many People Does the Sentra Seat?

The Sentra seats five people on standard cloth upholstery. Available upgrades include leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. The Sentra has the passenger space of a midsize sedan in the body of a compact car. That means adults in both front and back can ride in comfort. Still, people who are especially tall may find that the seats are mounted too high to provide adequate headroom. On the other hand, the high seating position will give smaller drivers great visibility of the road ahead. Ample sound insulation keeps the Sentra's cabin quiet.

Sentra and Car Seats

Each of the rear outboard seats has a full set of LATCH connectors, while the rear middle seat has only an upper tether anchor.

Sentra Interior Quality

For the most part, the Sentra's cabin is fitted with soft-touch materials and has a solid build quality. Still, the cabin doesn't feel as fresh inside as competitors with more modern interiors.

Sentra Cargo Space

Few compact cars have as much trunk room as the Sentra’s 15.1 cubic feet. That's comparable to the trunks in many midsize sedans. You can fold the rear seatbacks down for even more cargo room, and the front passenger seat also folds flat so you can transport especially long items.

Sentra Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Base models have a 5-inch touch-screen infotainment system, while higher trims are available with a slightly larger 5.8-inch touch screen. Both systems are intuitive and have easy-to-reach on-screen buttons. The larger screen also includes navigation and NissanConnect, which uses your phone's data connection to give you access to some internet apps via the infotainment screen. Many rivals have more advanced infotainment systems that have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone integration, and they offer larger touch screens, too.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

Sentra Performance

Sentra Engine: It's Not Quick

Base models come with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that has disappointing power, making the standard Sentra one of the slowest cars in the class. The available turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine in the SR Turbo and Nismo models has more power on paper, but it doesn't feel much stronger than the base model. Acceleration with the turbo-four is still underwhelming, especially compared to rivals like the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen GTI. A manual transmission is standard and a CVT (automatic) is available.

Sentra Gas Mileage: Good, Not Great

Base models with the manual transmission get average fuel economy for the class, at 27 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The available automatic transmission bumps fuel economy up to 29/37 mpg city/highway, which is still a bit lower than class leaders.

Sentra Ride and Handling: Not as Athletic as Rivals

The Sentra is well-suited for daily commuting, as it has a comfortable ride and is easy to maneuver. This sedan isn't very sporty, even in Turbo and Nismo trim levels, though it feels reasonably composed around turns. Most competitors are simply more agile and have more smile-inducing cornering capabilities. Nismo models have stiffened suspensions that make the ride rougher over bumpy roads. The Sentra is only available with front-wheel drive.

Read more about performance »

Sentra Reliability

Is the Nissan Sentra Reliable?

The 2018 Nissan Sentra has a predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power, which is above average across the industry.

Nissan Sentra Warranty

The 2018 Sentra is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Most rivals have similar warranty terms, though the Hyundai Elantra has a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Sentra Safety

Sentra Crash Test Results

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the Sentra earns a four-star overall rating, with four out of five stars in the front crash and rollover tests and five stars in the side crash test. In addition, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Sentra the highest rating of Good in five crash tests. The Sentra's scores are typical for a compact car.

Sentra Safety Features

The Sentra only comes standard with a rearview camera, though base models with the optional CVT also add forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are available in higher trim levels.

Not sure which safety features are right for you? Check out 8 Safety Features You Shouldn't Skip.

Read more about safety »

Which Nissan Sentra Model Is Right for Me?

The base S model may have a low price, but we think the SV trim is the best value. It gets you an upgraded audio system and dual-zone automatic climate control. For a few hundred dollars more, you can add the SV Premium package for extra interior features. Buyers who want leather upholstery will need to step up to at least the SR trim with the available SR Premium package. 

A 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine comes standard in S, SV, SR, and SL models, while a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine powers SR Turbo and Nismo trims. A manual transmission is standard in S, SR Turbo, and Nismo models, and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) comes standard in all other trims.

Nissan Sentra S

The base S trim starts at $16,990 with a manual transmission or $18,275 with a CVT. This trim comes standard with cloth upholstery, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, a 5-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, a four-speaker audio system, and a rearview camera. Models with the CVT also have forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking.

Nissan Sentra SV

The $19,085 SV model makes the CVT standard and also adds dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-speaker audio system, satellite radio, and push-button start.

The SV Premium package ($990) comes with an upgraded 5.8-inch touch screen, navigation, NissanConnect smartphone integration, and a moonroof. The All-Weather package ($300) gets you heated front seats and heated side mirrors.

Nissan Sentra SR

The SR trim costs $20,500 and is equipped with heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, heated side mirrors, and unique styling elements.

The Technology package ($1,020) adds an upgraded 5.8-inch touch screen, navigation, NissanConnect smartphone integration, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. The SR Premium package ($3,560), has all of the features from the Technology package, plus leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, an eight-speaker Bose premium audio system, and a moonroof.

Nissan Sentra SR Turbo

The SR Turbo – starting at $22,490 – has the same features as the SR, plus a more powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a CVT automatic transmission with a manual shift mode, and a moonroof.

The SR Turbo Premium package ($2,590) adds leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, an upgraded 5.8-inch touch screen, navigation, NissanConnect smartphone integration, an eight-speaker Bose premium audio system, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Nissan Sentra Nismo

The performance-oriented Sentra Nismo is priced at $25,790 with either a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT. The Nismo is equipped with the same features and turbo engine as the SR Turbo, plus unique Nismo trim pieces, an upgraded 5.8-inch touch screen, navigation, NissanConnect smartphone integration, and an eight-speaker Bose premium audio system.

Nissan Sentra SL

The top-of-the-line SL trim starts at $23,440, and comes with leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, an upgraded 5.8-inch touch screen, navigation, NissanConnect smartphone integration, an eight-speaker Bose premium audio system, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Nissan dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Nissan deals page.

See 2018 Nissan Sentra specs and trims »

The Final Call

Drivers who just want a basic, roomy commuter car may find the Sentra an adequate companion. However, we recommend shopping around in the compact car class, as many similarly priced rivals give you a more high-end cabin or more thrilling performance. The Sentra is simply an OK economy car, while most competitors offer more bang for the buck.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "And when compared to the rest of the class, the Sentra lags in almost every way that not even an alleged performance-oriented iteration should make it a top choice." -- New York Daily News
  • "The Sentra SR Turbo is not the SE-R we'd like it to be, but it's a significant upgrade over the base model and it still offers a great deal of value for the money. If you want a true sport compact, look elsewhere." -- Left Lane News
  • "The newly revised Sentra is not exactly handsome, but neither does it seem as unpleasantly cheap as when this same basic package was introduced for 2013. More important, the 2016 Sentra's new full-size look helps you realize that there's 111 cubic feet of total interior volume here (95.9 cubic feet of passenger volume), which technically classifies it under EPA standards as a midsize car, not a compact." -- Automobile Magazine (2016)
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