2012 Nissan Sentra

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Pros: Spacious interior; Good-sized trunk; Long list of options; Intuitive control layout

Cons: Bland styling inside and out; Not very satisfying to drive; Droning acceleration especially on the 2.0 trim levels

Overview
If you are looking for a simple and inexpensive sedan, then the 2012 Nissan Sentra is for you. No, it hasn’t been significantly updated for a few years and is outclassed by newer competitors in terms of power, fuel economy and driving dynamics however it remains a reasonable choice in the compact-sedan class.

The Sentra features unexpectedly spacious front seats that comfortably accommodate taller folks. The rear seats are another story all together. The rear seats offer plenty of head and hip room but they fall short on legroom making those gifted with height feel cramped on longer trips. Trunk space is adequate, at 13.1 cubes, which is about average for this class. The gauges and controls are simple and straightforward with the exception of the optional navigation system. The 5-inch screen is on the small side and requires the driver to squint when reading through prompts.

The Sentra isn’t exactly inspiring to drive nor is it the most beautiful car in its segment, but it delivers a comfortable ride and an abundance of available technologies at a fairly affordable price. Even if you opt for the top-of-line SE-R Spec V, which will give your shaper handling and stronger acceleration, you will barley scratch above the $20,000 price barrier.

Body Styles, Trims & Options
The 2012 Nissan Sentra is available in six trim levels. The 2.0, 2.0 S, 2.0 SR and 2.0 SL feature a 140-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and the high-performance variants, SE-R and SE-R Spec V, are powered by a bigger 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. The SE-R delivers 177 hp, while the SE-R Spec V produces 200 hp.

The base 2.0 Sentra comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, power windows and door locks, AC, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary jack. Stepping up to the 2.0 S will get you 16-inch steel wheels plus power mirrors, cruise control, keyless entry and a 6-speaker sound system with MP3 capability and an iPod® interface.

The 2.0 SR includes all of the above features plus unique front and rear fascias, side sills and a rear spoiler. It also features 16-inch alloy wheels and fog lamps. The 2.0 SL gains keyless entry and ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an upgraded sound system with a full color display, Bluetooth® and satellite radio.

There are several options available on the 2.0 models and availability varies depending on the trim level you choose. Options include leather upholstery and heated front seats which are optional on the SL only. A Convenience Package, available on the S and SR, includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry/ignition and Bluetooth®. A Technology Package, optional on S and SR trims, will give you a navigation system along with an iPod® interface and satellite radio. On the SL, you can add the Special Value Package which includes a rearview monitor, the navigation system and a sunroof. And last but not least, an Audio Package which includes an 8-speaker premium sound system is available on SL models.

Moving up to the high-performing SE-R model will get you similar equipment that is found in the 2.0 SR. It also adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a sleek aerodynamic body kit, a sports tuned suspension, color display gauges and the SL’s sound system. A SE-R Upgrade Package is available that will add keyless entry and ignition, a sunroof, a navigation system and a premium sound system.

Going for the top-of-the-line SE-R Spec V adds more power, performance parts upgrades such as a firmer suspension and larger brakes, high-performance tires and sporty interior trims. A SE-R Spec V Upgrade Package is available that will add a limited-slip front differential and items included on the SE-R Upgrade Package.

Safety
Standard safety features include stability control, antilock brakes, front airbags, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags.  Sportier SE-R models come with four-wheel disc brakes while other models have rear drum brakes as standard.

Warranty Information
Every new 2012 Nissan has got you covered with limited vehicle coverage for 3 years or 36,000 miles and a limited powertrain warranty for 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever occurs first. A Federal Emission Performance Warranty is also included as well as other various emission warranties.  Seat belt related components are covered for 10 years/unlimited miles and a tire limited warranty is also included but varies depending on the brand of tire that comes on your new vehicle.

MSRP

Available Trims MSRP
2012 Sentra 2.0 $16,430
2012 Sentra 2.0 S $18,360
2012 Sentra 2.0 SR $18,360
2012 Sentra SE-R $20,490
2012 Sentra SE-R Spec V $20,990
Similar Vehicles  MSRP
2012 Ford Focus $16,500
2012 Hyundai Elantra $15,195
2012 Mazda 3 $15,200

EPA Ratings

Trim

Engine

Drivetrain

Fuel Economy (city/highway)

Sentra 2.0, 2.0 S

2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine

6-speed manual transmission

24/31

Sentra 2.0, 2.0 S, 2.0 SR & 2.0 SL

2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine

Xtronic CVT® automatic transmission

27/34

Sentra SE-R

2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine

Xtronic CVT® automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters

24/30

Sentra SE-R Spec V

2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine

6-speed close-ratio manual transmission with dual-mass flywheel

21/28

Christine is a Contributing Editor at DriverPulse, a provider of online automotive editorial reviews and news. She is also an Account Manager and Head of Client Services for Nusani Media. She drinks a lot of coffee, loves to drive (manual, of course) and enjoys the company of her dog. She spends her free time exploring the great outdoors, painting and volunteering at her local animal shelter. Her passion for cars started at an early age. While most little girls were playing with dolls, she was playing with matchbox cars and watching her grandfather work on his prized Fords. She believes a vehicle should not only give you goosebumps while speeding around the circuit, its design should be purpose focused and elicit a pure emotional response. Her dream car, the Porsche Carrara GT, may not be easy to control however it is the perfect definition of form following function; mind blowing performance and beauty.

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