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
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.

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 406 Ratings for the 2007 - 2012 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    8.4/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    8.5/10
  • Comfort
    8.7/10
    Styling
    8.7/10

adequate vehicle for everyday commute.

By on Saturday, August 30, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "comfortable, quiet, good interior space"

Cons: "engine lacks horsepower"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"This vehicle is a good everyday commuter. Comfortable, quiet with good interior space. Exterior is nice looking, not flashy, but not old either. Have owned this certified Sentra S for almost 1 year and have no real complaints other than the 140hp engine is somewhat lacking. Overall I would recommend this vehicle for the great gas mileage which I average 35+ mpg."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

This is a quality vehicle with power and econemy

By on Tuesday, August 05, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 95,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Smooth, economical, dependable and fun."

Cons: "Engine has always been a little rattly."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"This car has not had any problems so far and is powerful, smooth and very economical. I am making my final payment in a few days and am glad in my selection. This car is fun to drive and still gets over 30 mpg combined."

7 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Nissan Rules!

By on Friday, May 23, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 173,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Overall quality. Nissans run til the end of time."

Cons: "The inner design isn't very stylish."

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

"For the life of me I can't understand why Honda and Toyota have the reputation for being the longest lasting cars on the road. Every Nissan I've ever driven has gone for years and years with no problems at all. My Sentra has 173,000 miles on it and it has never broken down, and still runs perfect. Others I know who drive Nissan have all had similar experiences. These are the cars to drive if you don't want to deal with mechanical problems or costly repairs. If those are your thing, buy an American car."

24 people out of 37 found this review helpful

Great gas mileage

By on Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
1/10
Styling
2/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "gas mileage"

Cons: "SOUND LOOKS BLAHHH"

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

"i have owned my car for almost 2 years now. let me just say this...its really reliable and amazing on gas (20 mpg around town) but unfortunately that's all its good for. the gutless 2.0 engine is hardly acceptable (all its built for is gas mileage) and the very interesting not shifting CVT will have you scratching your head because it doesn't shift. the car has gear ratios the smaller it is the faster you go the bigger it is better gas mileage. the car does come equipped with a really good sounding stereo system. Oh yeah enough beats that the car next to you might glance over. The interior of the car is so boring it could literally put you to sleep. now lets move to the back seat i have a 2 year old and this car is our family car. On ever seat in the back it has safty hooks for car seats.....Only one problem tho....um...the back seat is very tiny. seriously NO ONE will be sitting in the back if you have a car seat in the back. And now the trunk! Its amazing super big.. whoopdy-do..... In all honesty i hate my car the way it drives, sounds, looks, and sounds....OOPS did i say that already? i wish i would have gotten something completely different"

3 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Awesome compact sedan with excellent reliability

By on Wednesday, May 07, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 95,000

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
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Super reliable, good gas mileage, interior is soli"

Cons: "Gas mileage could be better"

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

"Bought this car used in 2009, when it was about 2 years old with 30k miles on it. Have driven it as a daily driver for the past 5 years, racking up close to 60k miles on the odometer. We have done regular oil changes and replaced the tires once during that time. Other than that normal scheduled maintenance, we have had to do zero repair work to the vehicle. We love the keyless entry and start with the key fob - literally impossible to lock your keys in the car, and super convenient to keep your keys in your pocket at all times and never have to pull them out. The interior of the car is laid out about as well as you can expect, with great controls for the radio and A/C. Overall, everything you could ask for out of a compact sedan, with excellent reliability, good gas mileage and fun to drive to boot."

10 people out of 14 found this review helpful

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."

5 people out of 8 found this review helpful

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?