With comfortable seating, easy-to-use creature comforts, and a zippy enough engine, the Nissan Sentra is basic transportation that’s worth the money.
By Holly Reich
The Big Picture
The 2012 Nissan Sentra is a compact sedan that surprised me with its spunk, space, ease of operating, and price.
An Inside Job
Chic simplicity and good taste rule this cabin. The spacious interior of our test car was decked out with comfortable, supportive cloth seats and smart looking plastic surfaces that both looked and felt good to the touch. The instrument panel, trimmed in stylish silver, had easy to understand and access controls (big enough to reach with manicured nails) and the center stack shift lever was angled for easy operation. There’s plenty of room for cups, bottles and cell phones (see below) and net pockets on the backs of the front seats will hold the passengers’ paraphernalia. One negative note—no telescoping steering column!
If you’re a typical American family of four and feel a sedan is the right ride for you, the Nissan Sentra will tuck everyone in comfortably and stow a week’s worth of groceries in the trunk. The adjustable cup holders in the center console are a must (along with a dedicated cell phone space), and the over-sized glove compartment is roomy enough to hide your purse or laptop. The 60/40 seats fold flat, so you can fit a bike in the cargo area. Other storage solutions include a rear seat armrest with cup holders that can hold a 20-ounce bottle and a 32-ounce drink cup (yikes! Who’s that thirsty?), and extra storage next to the driver’s door.
All Sentra models come standard with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), and a Traction Control System (TCS), both of which work to keep the car from skidding and spinning. The Sentra also comes equipped with dual-stage front air bags with seat belt sensors, side impact airbags, and front-seat active head restraints that reduce the chance of whiplash. All of the airbag features work together to keep occupants safe in a crash. And though the 2012 Nissan Sentra is quite a safe car, it falls behind some competitors in the number of standard airbags offered. Some cars in this class of car now offer up to 10 airbags as standard equipment.
Gizmos and Tech
The Nissan Sentra has an optional navigation system with voice prompts and real-time traffic information has a 5-inch screen (small when compared with others in this price category) that is colorful with big-block letters and easy-to-understand graphics so you can glance at, instead of lock eyes, with the screen.
Worth mentioning is Brake Overide Protection, a standard feature since 2005. If the brake and accelerator are being pressed at the same time when the vehicle is moving, the brakes take over and reduce engine power. This function kicks in only when it’s necessary.
The 2012 Nissan Sentra is perfectly adequate for my needs. It is versatile for city streets, easy to park in tight urban spots, and it has a bit of get-up-and-go for highway driving. The Sentra isn’t a remarkable car, but for the price, it’s a value.
I’m all about comparing cars when shopping. Other vehicles in the Nissan Sentra category include: the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Golf. Check them out and tell us what you think.
Price and fuel economy. MPG is rated at 27/34 miles per gallon city/highway with the CVT and 24/31 city/highway miles per gallon with the 6-speed manual transmission (Sentra 2.0 only).
The efficiency of size.
I’d go for a major change with the exterior styling.