2012 Nissan Sentra

The 2012 Nissan Sentra is Nissan’s entry in the arena of small affordable cars. It has a modest design and a modest engine but the collective impression of car critics and reviewers is: there are better options than the new Sentra.

Having looked at its competitors, there are certain areas that Nissan seem to have overlooked such as the fuel economy, base prices and the overall performance.


General Info
Vehicle Type: Sedan Base Price: $16,430.00
Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.5 gallons (55L) MPG: 24 city / 31 hwy
Length: 179.8 in. (456.6 cm) Wheel Base: 105.7 in. (268.4 cm)
Height: 59.5 in. (151.1 cm) Width: 70.5 in. (179 cm)
Curb Weight: 2906 lbs (1318 kg) Ground Clearance: 5.6 in. (14.2 cm)
Luggage Capacity: 13.1 cu ft Maximum Seating: 5 people
Engine: 2.0L 4 Cylinder DOHC Compression Ratio: 9.7: 1
Horsepower: 140 HP Max RPM: 5100 RPM
Torque: 147 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
Available Trims & Engine
Option:2.0S Xtronic CVT MSRP: $18,360; MPG: 27 city / 34 hwy
Option:2.0 SR Xtronic CVT MSRP: $18,360; MPG: 27 city / 34 hwy
Option:2.0 SL Xtronic CVT MSRP: $19,760; MPG: 27 city / 34 hwy
Option:SE-R Xtronic CVT MSRP: $20,490; MPG: 24 city / 30 hwy
Option:SE-R Spec V- Manual MSRP: $20,990; MPG: 21 city / 28 hwy


The base model of the 2012 Nissan Sentra is equipped with a 2.0 liter engine that delivers 140 horsepower and 147 lbs/ft of torque. It is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. In higher trims, prospective owners can go for the optional Continuous Variable Transmission.

The SE-R model sports a 4-cylinder 2.5 liter engine paired with CVT that brings out 177 horsepower. The SE-R with Spec V has a 4-cylinder 2.5 engine and a manual 6-speed transmission that provides 200 horsepower.

The fuel efficiency rating is directly affected by the engine. The base model has a rating of 34 mpg for highway and 27 mpg for city driving. The SE-R has 31 mpg for highway and 24 mpg for city driving. The SE-R Spec V has 28 mpg for highway and 21 mpg for city driving.


The base model with the 2.0 liter engine is definitely adequate for daily errands. But if you want more power, you must go for the SE-R Spec V. The higher level trim has better handling than the base model too. But you cannot expect great improvements because you can still feel the road imperfections.

And because it has a manual transmission, do not expect the SE-R Spec V to deliver the convenience that automatic transmissions bring. But the thing that we do not like the most is the price for the new Sentra. For $20,000, you can find other cars that perform better.


The design of the new Sentra is respectable. It does not look too sporty and it does not look too dated either. It doesn’t lack elegance too, and it makes the Sentra handsome enough. The styling is not much of a concern.


The new Sentra provides the standard seating just like other sedans. What caught our attention is the intuitive layout design for the controls. Since it can be controlled easily, you can focus on the road more. This little detail makes a big difference for safety. The materials used for the interior are decent and are perfect for their price.

The rear seats can hold two adults but they may become uncomfortable for long trips because of the little legroom. Children will have no problems about it though. The doors are large which makes entry and exit easy. This is an advantage when you need to hurry for an errand.


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the new Sentra “acceptable” for roof strength, side impact and rear tests. It got a “good” score in front offset tests though. The Sentra comes with the standard safety features such as anti-lock brakes, traction control, dual-stage front airbags, side curtain airbags, side impact airbags and electronic brake-force distribution.


The Sentra comes with the standard 3-year warranty and a 5-year warranty for the powertrain.

Pros & Cons

The 2012 Sentra has intuitive controls and spacious front seats. The Sentra is outshined by its competitors in many aspects.

Overall the 2012 Nissan Sentra is a handsome and respectable car, only that there are better choices for its price.


The Sentra was not alone it entered into the scene, it has been joined by the Honda Civic (MSRP $15,955; 28 city / 36 hwy), Hyundai Elantra (MSRP $15,345; 29 city / 40 hwy), and the Mazda3 (MSRP $15,200; 25 city / 33 hwy).

Overall Rating
67 out of 100

What others say:

“The 2012 Nissan Sentra no longer looks fresh, but especially in base 2.0 form or SE-R Spec V guise it represents a strong value for the money with a roomy, comfortable interior.”Car Connection

“2.0 models take corners with moderate body lean. They are competent, but not particularly engaging. Spec V is relatively nimble, though not as much as a Honda Civic Si or Volkswagen GTI.”Consumer Guide

“Although it’s in its twilight, the current Sentra is a one of the better small sedans.”MSN Auto-ConsumerReports

“The Sentra has been one of Nissan’s most successful cars year after year, decade after decade. The 2012 Nissan Sentra sedan continues to appeal to buyers for one reason: value.”KBB

“The 2012 Nissan Sentra is a respectable small sedan, but newer competitors outclass it in terms of power, fuel economy, athleticism and charisma.”Edmunds