The Nissan Sentra offers straightforward practicality and an appealing price. There's plenty of cargo space and lots of room for passengers. It's also an easy car to live with thanks to simple controls and a smooth driving experience.
That said, nothing about the Sentra stands out in the class. Its base engine is one of the slowest available, and even the optional turbocharged engine lags behind some competitors in terms of outright performance. There are also rival sedans that offer nicer interiors and greater degrees of comfort and technology.
A good example is the Kia Forte, which has an extensive list of optional features for a reasonable price. There's also the all-wheel-drive Subaru Impreza that has many excellent active safety features and driver aids available. Finally, the Honda Civic, when equipped with its available turbocharged 1.5-liter engine, is our overall favorite vehicle in the class.
The 2018 Nissan Sentra sedan is offered in S, SV, SR, SR Turbo, Nismo, and SL trim levels. A 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 124 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque (130 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque with the S trim's manual transmission) is standard on the S, SV, SR and SL models. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the S, and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is optional on that model and standard on all other Sentras.
The base Sentra S comes with 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, cruise control, trip computer, a 5-inch central touchscreen, a rearview camera and Bluetooth audio connectivity. Automatic emergency braking for imminent front collisions is now also standard on all CVT-equipped Sentra trim levels, except the Nismo.
Stepping up to the SV gets you 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and ignition, upgraded cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-speaker sound system and satellite radio.
The SR gets 17-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, a sport body kit including a rear spoiler, LED headlights (low beams), foglights, adaptive cruise control, heated mirrors, unique cloth upholstery and heated front seats.
For both the SV and SR, heated front seats and side mirrors, a sunroof and a 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation are optional.
The SR Turbo takes the SR trim and adds a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder (188 hp and 177 lb-ft), mated to a choice of a six-speed manual or a specially calibrated CVT with a manual-shift mode. Nissan also adds a sport-tuned suspension, recalibrated steering, upgraded front brakes and a sunroof.
Optional upgrades for the SR and SR Turbo include leather upholstery, a power driver seat, an auto-dimming mirror, a power sunroof, the bigger touchscreen with navigation, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and an eight-speaker Bose audio system with NissanConnect app connectivity.
The Sentra Nismo comes with the SR Turbo's features and adds a lot of Nismo-branded trim pieces such as a spoiler, 18-inch wheels, exhaust, grille and badges, along with a unique interior appearance package. It also comes standard with NissanConnect and the larger touchscreen, as well as the eight-speaker Bose stereo system.
The top-of-the-line SL loses the SR's sport-themed flourishes, keeps the 1.8-liter engine, and adds unique 17-inch alloy wheels plus the rear disc brakes, leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat (with power lumbar adjustment), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a moonroof, a larger 5.8-inch touchscreen with navigation and voice controls, NissanConnect, and the premium eight-speaker Bose stereo system. A blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert is also standard.