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2012 Nissan Sentra

Overview
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2012 Nissan Sentra Review

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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)

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2012 Nissan Sentra Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.3
Out of 10

Based on 422 Ratings for the 2007 - 2012 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.6/10
    Quality
    8.4/10
  • Reliability
    8.8/10
    Performance
    8.5/10
  • Comfort
    8.6/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

Reliable

By on Monday, May 18, 2015

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

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "I got a great price, it is fun to drive"

Cons: "Just rust issues"

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

"Living in the north, we always have to take into consideration the probablilty of rust. That is my only complaint. Manufacturers should make the car with that in mind, and put some sort of protective coat on the under parts of the car to leave less room for worry. Parts I've had to replace were due to rust issues. Otherwise, I love the space, storage, usb, & reliability. The power of this car is pretty good for winter, just be sure to keep good tires on it."

Worst Vehicle ever

By on Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 83,437

10 2.0
overall rating 2 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
2/10
Value
4/10
Reliability
2/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
3/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
4/10

Pros: "Worse car I ever owned"

Cons: "Too bumpy very loud"

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

"Buyer be ware. Drives likes a freight train . Passenger feels every little bump. Poor handing when driving, tends to throw you around in the vehicle. Loud noisy going up hills, whines a lot."

Not the Best

By on Tuesday, May 05, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 143,000

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
1/10
Styling
4/10
Comfort
4/10

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

"I HAVE OWNED THIS CAR FOR YEARS AND HAVE HAD PROBLEM AFTER PROBLEM. I HAVE REPLACED THE STRUTS 3 TIMES, I REPLACED THE ENGINE AT 102,000MILES AND NOW AT 143,000 I AM HAVING TO REPLACE THE TRANSMISSION. I PROBABLY WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER NISSAN JUST ON THE FACT OF THIS CAR."

Good starter car for the reckless teenager

By on Thursday, April 16, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
2/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Very spacious interior, easy to drive, cheap maint"

Cons: "louder road noise, bumpy, drum brakes on rear"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"There is nothing particularly special about this vehicle. It will go from point A to point B with no problem. The vehicle is very large on the inside where my 6 foot fiance can sprawl out with plenty of room to spare. Gas mileage I average about 24mpg and can get 32highway mpg. It is very quick with CVT transmission and certainly doesn't miss a beat when you need it. Normal wear and tear is inevitable and as far as defects I would say there isn't really any. I would recommend this car to someone who needs a commuter car or is looking to be very price consciences."

9 people out of 15 found this review helpful

Comfortable and Smooth, but Dull

By on Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I owned and sold this car
Reason: Trade-Up

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
6/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
3/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Smooth ride, low cost"

Cons: "Road noise, boring to drive, iffy build quality"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"If you need a car, and you can find yourself a relatively low mileage Sentra, I can't say you shouldn't get one. You'll get a car that's inexpensive to own and operate, yet has really good ride quality. Still, there are some things that irked me about this car. First off, I had an issue with a leak from the outside in. It turns out that whatever glue they used to hold this car together (yes, that's correct) cracked causing a leak which soaked the floor in the back when it rained. Little plastic and rubber parts here and there, especially on the outside, began to fall off or come loose, and one of the back speakers buzzed occasionally. Driving this thing is about as exciting as shopping for socks. The ride quality is good, but it's not going to plow through a turn or accelerate with any urgency. The turning radius on this car is competitive with a house...I couldn't make u-turns to save my life. Also, road noise is atrocious. I found myself cranking up the radio just to hear it going 55 MPH. That being said, if you're looking for something inexpensive that goes A to B, you probably won't find anything that has a better ride."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Excellent ride, good gas mileage, I like the car.

By on Sunday, March 15, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 93,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Roomy, mileage, response time."

Cons: "No Cruise control :("

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

"For the basic of "basics", this Nissan is a Great Car. It has no options however, I have always liked Nissans. The ride is smooth, the mileage is very reasonable, there is plenty of room for 5 adults, the trunk space is amazing also. On the freeway it is a nice, quiet, smooth ride. The response for needing to "GO" or pass, is excellent. I have nothing bad to say about this car. It was a gift but if I were out looking to buy a car and my finances were limited, I would definitely consider buying this car."

8 people out of 13 found this review helpful

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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

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