Advertisement

Why ads?
Popular at KBB.com
  • 10 Best Sedans Under $25,000
  • 12 Best Family Cars of 2014
  • 10 Most Affordable Cars of 2014
  • 10 Best Luxury Cars Under $40,000
Go

2012 Nissan Sentra

Overview
Share this page
Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2012 Nissan Sentra Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 6.8

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. Available in four trims (2.0, 2.0 S, 2.0 SL and 2.0 SR), the Sentra runs the gamut from simple and affordable to quite nicely equipped but still very affordable. Thanks to its Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), the 2012 Nissan Sentra sedan posts some very respectable fuel-economy numbers, and its 2.0-liter engine is far from underpowered. With styling that is close enough to the mainstream as to be widely acceptable, the Sentra's ability to appeal to a varied consumer audience is yet another key to its success. With the performance-oriented SE-R and SE-R SPEC V rounding out the line, the 2012 Nissan Sentra sedan proves its versatile design will continue to remain competitive against heavy hitters like the Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze and Toyota Corolla, as well as newcomers such as the Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte.

You'll Like This Car If...

If a roomy, comfortable interior and lots of low-priced, high-end features mean more to you than a flashy exterior and go-kartlike handling, the 2012 Nissan Sentra sedan is a great choice. Its Xtronic CVT transmission, which is standard on all but the base trim, is so efficient it delivers better fuel economy than the 6-speed manual.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you are seeking a flashy exterior and go-kartlike handling, not to mention a more powerful engine and a manual transmission on the top-of-the-line trim, the Mazda Mazda3, Honda Civic or VW Golf is probably better suited to your needs. If you can afford to spend a bit more, the 2012 Nissan Sentra SE-R might also be a better choice.

What's New for 2012

Changes for the 2012 Nissan Sentra sedan are limited to a new Technology Package on the S trim, and a Special Edition package for the SL that combines the Technology, Convenience and Moonroof packages into one low-cost bundle.

Driving the Sentra

Driving Impressions Because most people don't dart in and out of traffic or attack S-curves with Formula1-like zeal, the 2012 Nissan Sentra sedan has been infused with the appropriate balance between capable...

handling characteristics and a smooth, quiet ride. The front-disc/rear-drum brake setup works fine for the Sentra, and is another reason Nissan is able to keep the cost of this vehicle so low. The 2012 Nissan Sentra's small size and quick steering make it easy to move about in city traffic (not to mention to parallel park), while on the highway the car's interior remains commendably quiet. Although engine power is hardly overwhelming, the 2012 Nissan Sentra's CVT automatic makes the most of the 2.0-liter's output, providing snappy off-the-line launches and adequate power for merging and passing.
Favorite Features

Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
While it lacks the "sport mode" found on several other Xtronic applications, this seamless automatic is a good match for the Sentra engine and offers EPA fuel-economy ratings that are superior to those of the 6-speed manual gearbox that's standard on the 2.0 S.

Navigation System
The newest navigation/radio system from Nissan includes a large, bright view screen, points of interest (POI) data base, touch-screen controls and XM NavTraffic updates (requires subscription). Best of all, the unit costs a mere $650, an amazing price for a factory-installed system.

2012 Nissan Sentra Details
2012 Nissan Sentra photo Interior

Designed with American-sized buyers in mind, the 2012 Nissan Sentra sedan's well-appointed interior provides plenty of room to stretch out in all directions. Large door openings both front and rear mean you won't have to squeeze to fit into the Sentra, and its seat cushions are both wide and long, providing good support for tall drivers. Because Nissan knows we Americans love to take our gadgets everywhere we go, the Sentra is given a number of storage compartments including a laptop-sized locking glove compartment and a deep 13.1-cubic-foot trunk that can be expanded via the 60/40 split-folding rear seat. Interior color choices include beige or charcoal punctuated by either aluminum or faux-wood accents (depending on trim). The 2012 Nissan Sentra sedan's large and clearly labeled controls are easy for all to see and operate. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the charcoal-and-orange LCD displays for the fuel and temperature indicators.

Exterior
2012 Nissan Sentra photo

The 2012 Nissan Sentra sedan retains the upright angular style that filtered down through Nissan's line a few years back. While not as sleek as the new Ford Focus or Hyundai Elantra, the 2012 Nissan Sentra sedan's styling is bold and attractive, and its tall roof makes for impressive headroom in this segment. The Sentra's long 105-inch wheelbase is responsible for the car's smooth ride and stable handling; it also makes the Sentra look much bigger than a standard compact car. How attractive you want your 2012 Nissan Sentra sedan to be depends on how much you're willing to invest. Where the base 2.0 and 2.0 S trims feature steel rims with wheel covers and simple exterior treatment, the 2.0 SR and SL gain 16-inch alloy wheels. The SR also touts foglights, a sport grille and front fascia, smoked headlight surrounds and smoked taillights, and chrome exhaust finishers.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2012 Nissan Sentra 2.0 sedan includes a 6-speed manual transmission, front, front-side and side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, power windows and door locks, air conditioning, trip computer, and an AM/FM/CD audio system. The 2.0 S adds the Xtronic CVT automatic transmission, standard iPod integration, 6-speaker stereo, larger wheels with lower-profile tires, remote keyless entry, cruise control and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The 2.0 SL provides keyless start, 16-inch alloy wheels, XM Satellite Radio, 4.3-inch color audio head unit with controls for iPod and Bluetooth, and a power trunk lid release. The SE-R and Spec V add features such as sport seats, special trim, more instrumentation and unique alloy wheels.

Optional Equipment

Sentra extras are largely model specific and are bundled into packages. The Convenience Package (2.0 S, 2.0 SR) offers Nissan's Intelligent Key keyless entry and start, power trunk lid release, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Technology Package, which costs just $650, brings navigation with XM NavTraffic and XM Satellite Radio as well as a USB interface. The 2.0 S and 2.0 SR models can also be equipped with a 4.3-inch color display audio head unit, USB port and 8-speaker 340-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system. The SL trim offers leather seating, RearView monitor, heated front seats, a power sunroof, Rockford Fosgate premium audio and a 5-inch navigation/radio system that includes XM NavTraffic real-time traffic information updates.

Under the Hood

All 2012 Nissan Sentra 2.0 sedans share an identical 140-horsepower version of Nissan's 2.0-liter, 16-valve 4-cylinder engine that was co-developed with parent-company Renault. The 2.0-liter makes an impressive 147 pound-feet of torque, and features variable timing on the intake valves that helps enhance its mid-range punch. Acceleration with either transmission is decent if not exhilarating, with a 0-to-60-mph sprint requiring about nine seconds. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that EPA fuel-economy figures with the Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) actually surpass those of the 6-speed manual gearbox, in both city and highway mode. Due to different emissions regulations, the 2.0-liter's output in California is rated at 135 horsepower and 142 pound-feet of torque. The 2.5-liter in the Spec V employs more high-tech features, such as a dual-branch exhaust manifold and revised piston crown shape to create a 10.5:1 compression ratio and higher horsepower and torque output.

2.0-liter in-line 4
140 horsepower @ 5,100 rpm
135 Horsepower @ 5,100 rpm (California)
147 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
142 lb-ft of torque @4,800 rpm (California)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/31 (manual), 27/34 (automatic)

2.5-liter in-line 4
177 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
200 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm (Spec V)
172 lb-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm
180 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm (Spec V)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 (manual), 24/30 (automatic)

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2012 Nissan Sentra Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.3
Out of 10

Based on 401 Ratings for the 2007 - 2012 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    8.5/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    8.5/10
  • Comfort
    8.7/10
    Styling
    8.7/10

2011 Nissan Sentra SL (Bought Used)

By on Sunday, April 20, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Reliability based on price"

Cons: "Leather seats on some SL models"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I love my 2011 Sentra SL - Nav sys w/back up camera, bluetooth, sunroof, rear spoiler, chrome trim etc... Due to a partial highway closure around here, the recent traffic on the local roads has constantly been just stop then go then stop... This car still hits avg 30 mpg no matter what - I actually calculated this based on a full gas then next-time-fill-up ratio a few times and not based on the Sentra's calculation. The stereo sounds excellent with embedded equalizer w/6 speakers with the automatic volume control based on the speed. I can hook up iPhone, Android, iPod and/or whatever I can via USB that my 6 year old daughter can even control what she wants to listen to and the volume off of her device that is connected to it while sitting in the rear seat. One thing I do not like it? I've never been a big fan of leather seats... I always feel I'm not settled while driving for some reasons but it came with it. So, it wasn't Nissan's fault since I could go for something else if I wanted to. My son and I play ice hockey and the trunk actually easily holds two full hockey bags w/o even folding the rear seat if you know how big each is. VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) on/off is really helpful if you ever get stuck in mud and/or snow."

1 person out of 3 found this review helpful

Not totally happy with the Sentra

By on Friday, April 11, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,500

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
6/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "Styling is nice."

Cons: "Interior "blind" spots; uncomfortable seats"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"I am not totally satisfied with the Sentra. MPG has never gone beyond 23 MPG. I do not do much highway driving, but expected much more out of the Sentra driving locally. There are a couple "blind" spots on the driver's side between door window and windshield, making it very difficult to see if someone is coming on my left (in my parking lot). A/C Heat vents do not allow A/C heat be directed to me. Seats are very uncomfortable."

1 person out of 3 found this review helpful

Amazing vehicle

By on Sunday, March 16, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,679

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Stability and looks"

Cons: "Mirrors- the ones you look to see yourself- brake"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

Took picture in February 26,2014

"When I decide it to buy a car I choose a Nissan Sentra 4 doors Sedan (CVT) customize the 2008 car and require 8 miles. The color and all specification I told the dealer ship it want was exactly what expect it. Keeping the maintenance of the car and keeping my car is shape and shinny make me proud to own a Nissan. After 6 years own I still love my car. Shine like is brand new. It is a little bit hard to drive in snow but do the job very well. Stability is amazing and ver smooth. Someone hit my car in the rear and the car can take a hit. They fix everything and look like brand new. I have no problem after incident. Have minor scratches because of the years I have the car. But there are not bump or big scratches that you can see when looking at the car. As customize car I want a sunroof,16 wheel rims, 6 DVD music, in the trunk I have a hiding divider. Splash guards and side guards, spoiler."

1 person out of 5 found this review helpful

Took picture in February 26,2014

This car is designed fabulously!

By on Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
9/10
Styling
Not Rated
Comfort
Not Rated

Pros: "Fun to drive, safe, controls were at my fingertips"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"It seems a real live adult driver designed the interior to this car. Everything I needed was right at my fingertips. Unfortunately and heartbreaking for me, we were involved in an accident. My Sentra kept me safe from harm, collapsing as it should have. I never even hit the air bag. I love this car and am getting another tomorrow. Thirty years accident free, but it can happen, and this car kept me safe and happy as long as I owned and enjoyed it. Highly recommend the Sentra!"

Refuses to break down

By on Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 165,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "Quality and reliability"

Cons: "Interior is pretty bland. Almost like a shell."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"For the life of me, I can't figure out why Honda and Toyota get the credit for being the most reliable cars on the road. Everyone I know who drives a Nissan has had wonderful results. I got this car used with 17,000 miles on it and 4 1/2 years later with the odometer about to hit 165k it has never broken down, and still runs perfectly. I've had a couple of minor issues, an engine mount needed replacement, driver's side power window motor needed replacement, and heater/ac fan needed replacement, but that's it. It still runs as smooth and flawless as the day I bought it, and even with such high mileage, there aren't even any funny noises or quirks. Just change the oil, keep up with the maintenance, and don't beat on the car, and it will last you for years. Buy one for yourself and see."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Good car

By on Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "great price, good on gas, roomy and comfortable"

Cons: "side mirrors & windows too small, poor visibility"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"My husband drives a truck and I drive an Outback. We got this car as a commuter car if one of my husband's jobs was far away and too expensive to drive his truck.The gas mileage is around 30 mpg. A complaint we both have is that it is scary to drive on the Interstate because it is so small. We like the performance and it has enough pep. I do not like the design of the car (my husband thinks I'm nuts-he thinks it's a sharp looking car and comfortable to drive). I don't like the little windows in the back - it's hard to see when I'm backing up and the side mirrors are too small. I REALLY HATE those side mirrors. For such a tiny car I don't trust them when I'm changing lanes, and then the stupid windows in the side doors and back are so stinking small there are blind spots. The crash ratings aren't very good so I really don't like it as a commuter car."

Share this page

Advertisement

Why ads?
Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?