If you are looking for a no-nonsense compact car, the 2018 Nissan Sentra will impress you. Nissan Engineers simply engineered the most spacious car they could at the lowest cost possible. The result is a compact car more spacious and having more boot capacity than some mid-size sedan with a starting price of $16,990.
Accompanying that is a cockpit that's laid out intuitively and a tall upright stance that provides excellent outward visibility. Even the base 130 hp 1.8L naturally aspirated engine is engineered for just satisfying simple transportation needs. While the available 188 hp 1.6L turbocharged inline-4 promises more, it feels incomplete against similarly priced rivals like the Fiesta ST.
8.4/10 Fuel Economy
A 6-speed manual is available but it’s unrefined so we recommend sticking to the CVT and enjoying its 32 mpg combined fuel economy. That said, if you can do away with available space and are willing to spend little more, rivals like the Honda Civic offer plenty of features, upscale interiors, more exciting drive and excellent fuel economy as well.
2018 Nissan Sentra Features
Starting at just $16,990, the Sentra S is one of the cheapest compact cars on the market. It gets the base 1.8L naturally aspirated I4 mated to 6-speed manual. However, we strongly recommended upgrading it with optional CVT that takes the price to $18,275.
1.8-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine
Bluetooth streaming audio
Automatic Emergency Braking
Advanced Drive-Assist Display with 5″ color display
Includes S features plus:
Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission)
Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition
Dual Zone Automatic Temperature Control (ATC) with in-cabin microfilter
Premium Cloth Seats and Door Trim
Includes SV features plus:
17″ aluminum-alloy wheels
LED low-beam projector headlights with LED accents
Premium Sport cloth seat trim
Heated front seats
Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC)
Includes SR features plus:
1.6-liter Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) Turbocharged Engine
Tuned suspension and steering
11.7″ front ventilated disc brakes
Power sliding glass moonroof with tilt feature
Includes SV features plus:
Intelligent Cruise Control
Power sliding glass moonroof with tilt feature
Bose Premium Audio System with eight speakers
Includes SR Turbo features plus:
NISMO-tuned suspension and steering
18″ NISMO wheels
NISMO Aerodynamic body kit
NISMO interior with signature red trim
The 188 hp 1.6L turbocharged I4 bangs in with SR Turbo priced at $22,490. The Sentra SL retailing at $23,440 is the most well equipped trim. However, the pricing takes away the value proposition of the car. The Sentra Nismo with a price tag of $25,790 brings all the racy elements from the Nismo stable.
Nissan Sentra is a value for money purchase and we recommend sticking with lower trims. Optioning the CVT is a must but a CVT equipped base Sentra S is just marginally cheaper than the Sentra SV equipped with Dual-zone automatic climate control, premium cloth upholstery and push-button start. Hence, all this puzzle solving leads us to the Sentra SV priced at $19,085 – we recommend going for it.
2018 Nissan Sentra Engine
Power is sufficient, but a drive in the mountains with a few on board will make you wish for more. – Kelley Blue Book
Keeping with the Sentra’s mission of providing fuss-free transportation, a smooth but unexciting 1.8L engine does the job of hauling the large cabin. It’s effortless in city and highway but it feels stressed on steep grades or when you ask for more acceleration. Steering and suspension follow the same philosophy – they are perfectly satisfactory for safe comfortable transportation but not exciting.
Engine and Transmission
The Nissan Sentra gets a standard 1.8L naturally aspirated Inline-4 developing 130 hp and 128 lb-ft torque. This engine develops power smoothly but lacks any hint of excitement. It’s mated to a 6-speed manual as standard in base Sentra S. However, the manual transmission is too crude and we recommend upgrading to the CVT. The CVT suits the Sentra’s laid-back character.
It uses the available power much more efficiently and effortlessly. An added bonus is the excellent fuel economy. The Sentra SR turbo and Sentra Nismo gets the much more powerful turbocharged 1.6L Inline-4 developing 188 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. However, if you need sportiness at this price range, rivals like the Ford Focus ST are more complete option with more power, better chassis, and livelier steering.
Acceleration figures are the last thing Nissan engineers will like to talk about Sentra equipped with the base 1.8L engine. It’s among slowest compact cars with 0-60 mph time of 9.5 seconds. The Sentra equipped with 188 hp 1.6L turbo 4 is much quicker with 0-60 time of 7.0 seconds.
17.4 sec @ 81 mph
16.7 @ 86.1 mph
17.4 sec @ 83 mph
16.2 @ 86 mph
(Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)
Ride and Handling
The Sentra is not a car that will intoxicate you barreling down a twisty mountain road. Rather, it offers a safe, confident steering that provides excellent highway stability and still manages to be light in the city. Nissan stiffened the spring rates in 2016 to keep body rolls in check but while the competitors sport fully-independent rear suspension, Sentra has old-school torsion beam rear suspension.
The Sentra gets 11.0-inch brake rotors in front wheels and 9.0-inch brake rotors at the back. The sedan has a bit too sensitive brake pedal that can be particularly annoying in stop and go traffic. However, Sentra posts one of the best panic braking performance among competitors and it can stop from 70 mph in 122 feet.
Brake Front (in)
Brake Rear (in)
Curb Weight (lbs)
60-0 MPH (ft.)
2018 Nissan Sentra Fuel Economy
The sedan's base equipped with the 1.8L I4 and 6-speed manual delivers 27 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. However, equipping the must-have CVT ups the MPG ratings. The CVT equipped Sentra with 1.8L engine delivers 29 mpg in city and 37 mpg on the highway. The powerful 1.6L Turbo-I4 equipped Sentra produces an acceptable 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.
2018 Nissan Sentra Interior
The Sentra is straightforward and user-friendly, with controls that don’t require navigating any high-tech interface. Visibility is also quite good, and the trunk is large. It’s one of the more sensible compact cars. – Edmunds
The Sentra offers one of the most spacious interiors among compact cars and the trunk is equally generous. The 60/40 split seat provides added flexibility. High driving position offers excellent visibility and the acoustic glass keeps outside noise outside. However, competitors have more upscale interior quality.
Seating and Comfort
If spaciousness means comfort to you, the sedan's interior will impress you. The front seats offer good legroom and shoulder room and even with the moon-roof, the tall boxy design offers excellent headroom. The tall design and the high driver’s seat also combine to offer an excellent driving position with effortless outward visibility.
Passenger Volume(ft cube)
The rear seats are equally expansive and even an adult passenger will find it easy to get comfortable in the rear middle seat. However, the cabin quality leaves you asking for more if you drive a competitor like the Honda Civic back to back.
At 15.1 cubic feet, the sedan offers one of the most cavernous trunks in the compact car class. The 60/40 split rear seat and wide pass-through ensures added flexibility when carrying longer items and three passengers.
Trunk volume (ft.cube)
The base Sentra S gets a 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system while you can opt for a larger 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment on higher trims. The Sentra SL gets the 5.8-inch touchscreen as standard. Audiophiles are catered to with the available eight-speaker Bose audio system. However, Nissan does not offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in Sentra.
2018 Nissan Sentra Exterior
The 2018 Sentra is well proportioned and attractive. Its design closely mimics the shape of Nissan’s larger Altima sedan with athletic curves and a subtle flare of its wheel wells. – Kelley Blue Book
The Nissan Sentra received a major facelift in 2016 to bring it in-line with the new Nissan V motion design language. The design is not overly busy but does give this compact sedan some road presence. It does feel noticeably taller than the competitors because it is.
You can equip even the base Sentra S with a Deck-lid spoiler but if you are looking for racy highlights, why not go completely bonkers and get the Midnight trims. These dark Sentras possess black wheels, black spoiler, black mirrors and plenty of other mean highlights and they cost just over a thousand dollar over the comparable trim.
Dimension and Weight
The Nissan Sentra weighs average among the competition and its overall length, width and wheelbase is nothing different compared to other compact cars implying it’s as suited to tight parking spaces as other compact cars. However, its tallest compact car and its higher driving position afford you better outside visibility – a boon in city traffic.
Track width(in) F/R
2018 Nissan Sentra Safety
Impressively, all the CVT equipped the Nissan now gets automatic emergency braking as standard. A rearview camera is standard as well as it’s now a regulatory requirement. Along with these, the optional Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control complete the available active safety features and driver assistance systems list.
VSA Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
ABS And Driveline Traction Control
Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
Side Impact Beams
Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
Outboard Front Lap And Shoulder Safety Belts -inc: Rear Center 3 Point, Height Adjusters and Pretensioners
Airbag Occupancy Sensor
Curtain 1st And 2nd Row Airbags
Low Tire Pressure Warning
Rear Child Safety Locks
The 2018 Nissan Sentra has performed well in IIHS crash test.
Small overlap front driver side
Small overlap front passenger side
Moderate overlap front
Head restraints & seats
However, IIHS has rated the Nissan Sentra headlights as “poor”.
Front crash prevention
2018 Nissan Sentra Competition
Nissan Sentra vs Honda Civic
The Honda Civic is frequently called the best available compact car and for good reasons. It magically blends terrific fuel economy with an enthusiastic engine. It rides comfortably and offers corner craving dynamics as well. Its interior is attractive and features loaded and it’s priced competently too. However, the Sentra is more spacious and is priced more competently as well.
Nissan Sentra vs Toyota Corolla
The Corolla is the car that defines the compact-car segment and has the distinction of best-selling car in the world. The reason is simple – immense practicality, bulletproof reliability, sofa-like rear seats with unbelievable legroom for a compact car and excellent value for money. It’s a perfect point A to B tool. But so is the Sentra at a lower price. However, the Sentra lacks the Corolla’s upscale interior.
Nissan Sentra vs Chevy Cruze
The Chevy Cruze is one of the cushiest and most refined compact car available. It also gets plenty of upscale features as standard and there is even a turbodiesel engine on offer – at a cost. However, the Sentra is considerably roomier inside and is priced much more competently. Still, if you need a comfortable and feature loaded compact car, the Cruze is an excellent choice.
2018 Nissan Sentra Final Verdict
If you are looking for a decently comfortable and spacious urban runabout at a budget, the 2018 Nissan Sentra should rank high on your lists. It’s one of few compact cars that can carry five passengers in comfort.
The smooth ride and excellent high-speed stability combine with quiet interiors and spacious boot to make this compact car viable for long road trips with family. Plus, the Sentras are known to be reliable and fetch good value in used car market. However, the interior feels it’s built at a cost and the powertrain is not remotely exciting. Fuel efficiency could be better as well.
There is nothing wrong with the Sentra but if you can spend a little more, you can bring such complete cars as the applauded Honda Civic and Mazda 3 in your garage. That said, the Sentra makes a decent case for itself if you find cabin quality and trendy features to be capitalism focused and simply desire a spacious daily driver at a budget.
Decently equipped base trim
Bang for the Buck
Interior not as nice as rivals
Plenty of cost-cutting measures
All automatic transmission equipped 2018 Sentra get Automatic Emergency Braking
Rearview Monitor is standard
Sentra SV gets 16-inch wheels and standard dual-zone climate control
110 cu. in.
130 hp @ 6000 rpm
128 lb.-ft. @ 3600 rpm
brake rotors (f/r)
9 in. ventilated front disc/11 in. drum brakes
95.9 cu ft.
15.1 cu ft.
zero to 60 mph
3 years/36000 miles
5 years/60000 miles
Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.