2018 Sentra New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Sentra compact sedan is admirably roomy for four and gets good fuel efficiency. Conservatively upright in profile and traditional in style, the 2018 Sentra is largely unchanged over last year.
Automatic emergency braking is available for the 2018 model year; only models with manual shift, and the NISMO editions, do without the new system.
A rearview camera and 5.0-inch display screen, with Bluetooth streaming audio, come standard on all 2018 models. 2018 Sentra SV sedans get 16-inch alloy wheels and dual-zone automatic temperature control. Adaptive cruise control is standard on 2018 Sentra SR 1.8L and SL trim levels. 2018 Sentra SL sedans include a moonroof and Bose audio. A new Midnight Edition package is available for S and SR trim levels, featuring blacked-out body accents and 17-inch wheels.
Last redesigned for 2013, the Sentra was mildly facelifted three years later.
Six trim levels are offered: S, SV, SR, SL, SR Turbo, and NISMO. Most 2018 Sentras get a 1.8-liter four-cylinder, rated at 124 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard on the S model, but others come only with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that contains no gears but behaves like an automatic. With manual shift, the base engine produces 130 horsepower.
In SR Turbo and NISMO models, a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, borrowed from Nissan's Juke, makes 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet. A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard for the SR Turbo, but its optional CVT includes stepped, simulated gears.
Newly standard automatic emergency braking on most models helps elevate the Sentra against such rivals as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, but safety scores could be better. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Sentra Good crash-test ratings, but the small-overlap test for the passenger side was not rated. Headlights are deemed Poor, though the 2017 Sentra was named a Top Safety Pick.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the regular-engine 2018 Sentra a four-star score overall, and for frontal impact. Non-turbo models earned a five-star rating for side impact.
Blind-spot monitoring is available on SR versions, and standard on the SL.
Sentra S ($16,990) has the 1.8-liter engine, cloth upholstery, a 5.0-inch display, Bluetooth, four-speaker audio, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, and 16-inch wheels with covers. It's available with the CVT ($18,140). (Prices are MSRP and do not include $885 destination charge.)
Sentra SV ($18,960) gets the CVT, plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded cloth upholstery, six-speaker audio, keyless ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Sentra SR ($20,370) adds sport cloth seats, LED headlights, foglamps, adaptive cruise control, sporty interior accents, and 17-inch wheels. It comes with the 1.8-liter engine and CVT.
Sentra SL ($23,440) has the CVT, along with leather upholstery, a moonroof, Bose audio, 5.8-inch touchscreen, Nissan telematics, blind-spot monitoring, and unique 17-inch wheels.
Sentra SR Turbo substitutes a more powerful 1.6-turbocharged engine and comes with CVT ($22,490).
NISMO ($25,790) comes with a turbocharged engine, 18-inch wheels, sporty details inside and outside, and deeper front bucket seats. It's available with manual or CVT.