2022 Nissan Sentra SR Review

A turtle in hare's clothing


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Seriously practical, handsome exterior design, excellent front seats
Negatives: Tepid engine provides minimum driving fun, harsh ride, infotainment system already feels dated.
Bottom Line: The Sentra is more of a looker than a driver, but it's a good choice for commuters who care about looks and comfort over any semblance of driving fun.
The Sentra definitely needed to be redesigned, and Nissan gave the 2022 model similar (and almost better) looks as the bigger and pricier Altima sedan. The new Sentra brings sophisticated styling to the affordable small sedan segment. The downside is the single four-cylinder powertrain that can't hold a candle to competitors in terms of power or choices. No turbocharging, no hybrid, just a gas four-pot. The new Civic offers the sporty 200 hp Si, and the Mazda3 offers a turbocharged all-wheel drive trim level. What the Sentra does bring is a strong set of standard features and great interior comfort. We drove the sportier SR version for a week to see how it holds up against the competition. Read our full review below.
 

Driving Experience

6

 

Let's put it straight. There's not much to love about the way the Sentra moves and drives. It's just not very fun. You can have a low-powered car with a manual transmission, good brakes, and sporty suspension, and it can be a blast. The Sentra's CVT and boring four-pot are, well, boring. Sadly, even in SR guise, the Sentra just gets a harsher ride with no additional fun in the quotient.

Ride Quality: The Nissan Sentra is very firm over bumps due to the firm suspension and the big 18-inch wheels. We would tolerate this if the car was actually engaging and quick, which it is not.

Acceleration: The Sentra is s dog off the line. The CVT is lifeless, and it takes over 9 seconds for the Sentra to get to 60 mph. Comparatively, the new Civic does it in 7.5 seconds, and the Mazda3 in 7.6.

Braking: The Sentra's brakes are the best part of the driving experience. The car stops quickly and progressively with no brake pedal issues or nose dive.

Steering: Steering effort is actually present in good amounts, but it's not a lively setup that can beat the Mazda3. Not even close. It is, at least, on-center and responsive.

Handling: The Sentra SR has some body roll, but it's manageable. It doesn't feel engaging or fun in the turns, though, and the experience is just so-so.

Technology

6.9

 

Similar to the Sentra's driving experience, there's nothing about the in-car tech that will blow your mind. The base infotainment screen is 7" and higher trims like our SR get an upsized 8" deal. There's also a 7" Advanced Drive-Assist Display between the analog gauges. All trims come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Infotainment System: The 8" screen is fine but don't expect any dramatic or arresting style from it. The icons are easy to read, and the screen is legible. It's pretty much no-nonsense, but at least it's not confounding to operate.

Controls: All of the infotainment screen controls are operated on-screen or on the row of buttons just below it. There are also good physical climate and audio buttons and knobs. The steering wheel controls work well, as does the conventional shifter.

Styling

8.5

 

The Sentra SR looks great with its two-tone styling and sleek body. The interior is utilitarian with a touch of sport. It actually looks pretty good, and the overall styling matches the exterior nicely. It's deceptive, though, because there's nothing under the hood that is commensurate with the look.

Front: The Sentra's front fascia is pretty much a copy of the handsome Altima's. It has just the right amount of chrome and creasing. The grille and headlights meld nicely with the lines in the hood. The black-trimmed SR details add a touch of sinister.

Rear: The tapered taillights look amazing from the back view, and the understated trunk spoiler is a nice touch. We do wish there were two round tailpipes to finish off the look.

Profile: The short front overhang, taut creases over the fenders, and the floating roof all add to a rakish look that's very attractive. The SR's black wheels also match well with the rest of the car.

Cabin: Nissan did a great job making the interior of the Sentra look sporty and well-appointed. The round center HVAC vents, round climate controls, and the analog gauges match very well together, and the layered dash with contrast red stitching look phenomenal without being overdone. The red stripe on the SR's seats adds flair to the mix. Although we like the look of the flat-bottom steering wheel, it's really a bad ruse because this car is not sporty to drive.

Comfort

8.5

 

There's a lot to love about the interior of the Sentra. The seats are superb, there's ample space in front and back, and the Sentra does a great job of masking some of the hard plastics with softer materials nearby. The SR's Zero Gravity seats are some of the best at this price point.

Front Seats: You'd be hard-pressed to find better front seats for this price. The brand's Zero Gravity seats provide excellent cushioning, bolstering, and positioning.

Rear Seats: Rear seating is good for adults, but it has less legroom than both the Honda Civic sedan and the Hyundai Elantra. The seats are a bit flat, but at least the middle position doesn't jut out in the seatback like so many other cars.

Visibility: Overall visibility is very good thanks to a good seating position, decently sized glass, and manageable pillar size. The sightlines over the front end are great thanks to the sloping hood.

Climate: We had no issues with getting the Sentra to temp quickly. The large vents help move good quantities of air, too.


Safety

8

 

The Sentra is a safe car that ranks high in terms of crashworthiness and front crash prevention. It also comes with a very strong set of standard safety features that should help owners navigate the dangers of the road very well.

IIHS Rating: It misses the top award but manages to come away with a Top Safety Pick rating. It gets dinged on headlights and side impact.

NHTSA Rating: The Sentra earned the full five stars from the feds when it was tested in 2021.

Standard Tech: The SR we tested came with a great set of features, including Automatic Emergency Braking w/ Pedestrian Detection, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Rear Automatic Braking, Blind Spot Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Optional Tech: Our tester came optioned with a surround-view camera that helped negotiate tight spots.

Storage/Cargo

7.7

 

Despite the fact that the Sentra doesn't have the biggest trunk in the segment, it's more than enough to hold groceries and gear. It's the interior storage that impresses us the most with easy-to-reach options.

Storage Space: The Sentra has a great open cubby in front of the shifter, large twin cupholders, a deep center armrest, and decently sized door pockets.

Cargo Room: The trunk of the Sentra holds 14-cubic-feet of stuff, which is more than the Corolla and the Mazda3 but less than the Kia Forte.

Fuel Economy

8

 

The Sentra does really well in terms of efficiency. The SR gets less by about 1 mpg in the city and 2 on the highway for 28 and 37, respectively. We drove in Sport mode, so our numbers were lower, but it still did pretty well even with our heavy right foot. It's hard to wring out the modicum of power from the low-powered engine. While it still gets bested by the Corolla, it is more efficient than the Mazda3.

Observed: 33.4 mpg.

Distance Driven: 124 miles.

Audio

7.4

 

Our SR had the optional SR Premium Package that came with an 8-speaker Bose premium audio system. The sound quality was very good but lacked bass. It's certainly better than stock, but it didn't blow us away. At least the $2,740 package came with a slew of tech features and aesthetic upgrades.



Final Thoughts

We really love the way the Sentra looks. For this price, you get a lot of style and sportiness. The problem is the driving experience, which throws you off because the thing looks like it could do something this side of entertaining. Instead, the acceleration is tepid, the handling is less than stellar, and the ride in SR trim is too firm for what the car delivers performance-wise. We could forgive the ride if it had more guts. Aside from this, the Sentra offers safety, decent tech, great front-seat comfort, and great styling inside and out.


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