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Nissan Sentra B17 (2012-present): review, specs, problems

Nissan introduced the seventh-generation Sentra (codenamed B17) back in August 2012. Compared to the previous model, the new Sentra featured heavily redesigned interior and exterior styling cues borrowed from the Altima and Maxima.

A facelift came in 2014, bringing a set of revisions for the CVT gearbox, suspension, and steering. The sedan's tech credentials also got a bump through the updated NissanConnect suite.

Another facelift followed in 2016 and changed the exterior design while adding a new steering wheel and a redesigned interior layout.


Pros & Cons
Strong Points

Pros


Strong Points
  • spacious cabin
  • above-average materials
  • generous trunk
  • fuel-efficient
  • well-rounded tech pack

Recommended Versions
Strong Points

Cons


Weak Points
  • dodgy reliability
  • the CVT is a nuisance
  • lethargic acceleration
  • numb steering

Stay Away From
  • the CVT is annoying but avoiding it means opting for the base Sentra S, otherwise you're stuck with it
  • the SL trim will stretch your budget, especially if the previous owner fitted the Driver or Premium packages
Strong Points

Attention


Known Problems & Recalls
  • several reports talk about transmission failure or situations where fuel consumption skyrockets due to the CVT's poor calibration
  • furthermore, owners also reported that the CVT prevents the car from picking up speed and a slight jilt is felt during slowing down
  • some owners complained about the car's electrical systems tendency to shut down
  • in 2016, Nissan operated a recall for certain 2016 Sentra models due to a too large terminal pin in the engine room harness, which could cause the engine to stall or not start at all

Car Details
Powertrain

For the seventh-gen Sentra, Nissan went for a naturally-aspirated 1.8-liter gasoline engine good for 130 hp and 128 lb-ft as the Japanese wanted to stress the frugality aspect in the detriment of the nippy behavior.

The base model gets a six-speed manual, while every other version relies on a CVT gearbox. Either way, the 1.8-liter mill is not for the heavy-footed, and while the manual will make overpasses mediocre, the CVT's programming takes a while to get used to.


Handling

Forget about fun, but look forward to a nicely tuned suspension that absorbs bumps without a fuss. Otherwise, body roll is an often visitor, while the numb steering reminds you that the Sentra is for activities like shopping, getting the kids to school or car fleets.

As a comparison, the likes of Civic, Mazda3 and Ford Focus offer superior on-the-road behavior, with the Sentra slotting in the Corolla-Elantra territory.


Safety

The IIHS awarded the Sentra with a Top Safety Pick rating, with the sedan scoring Good in all the required crash categories.

Furthermore, every Sentra features ESC, ABS, front airbags and side airbags - front and rear head curtain airbags and front seat-mounted torso airbags.

2015MY Sentras also come fitted with a rollover sensor.

Comfort

With the seventh Sentra generation, Nissan upped the ante in terms of comfort and taller drivers will be pleased with the steering column which can now be adjusted both in height and depth.

At the back, passengers are greeted with increased legroom and decent amounts of headroom (there's room for better here), which means even adults will travel fatigue-free even on longer trips.

Soundproofing could have been better - noise at higher speeds finds a way inside the cabin, but otherwise, the Sentra is a quiet car, above the segment's average.


Quality

Besides the boosted comfort, the Nissan worked a lot on material quality inside the Sentra. As a result, the Sentra B17 comes with a cabin that inspires an upmarket feel, while the fit and finish aspect is definitely on the appealing side.

There's even the choice of leather upholstery and wood-tone inserts.


Practicality

The trunk offers 15.1 cu-ft which is more than adequate space for a midsize sedan.

Furthermore, the trunk opening is wide, and the loading lip sits low, so loading and unloading are easy tasks.

The clean interior design hides enough storage spaces and cupholders, and the controls are spread in a no-nonsense, intuitive manner throughout the center console and steering wheel.


Infotainment

On the entry-level Sentra, you get a trip computer, full power accessories and a CD player connected to a four-speaker sound system.

Going up the trim level ranks brings Bluetooth phone connectivity, a 4.3-inch display, and satellite radio plus USB/iPod ports.

The range-topping trim levels can be imbued with the Premium pack which adds a Bose audio system, navigation, NissanConnect and a rearview camera.

Efficiency

Sentra's rep as a frugal model is carried on by the 1.8-liter engine which returns an EPA-estimated 29 mpg in the city, 38 mpg highway, and 32 mpg combined.

These figures are pretty much same as what rivals have to offer (namely the Elantra and Corolla), although the Honda Civic wins the frugality contest in the segment on the highway, with a 41 mpg return.


Equipment

Sentra's main trim levels are split into S, SV, SR and SL. The S and SV get two more versions oriented on fuel economy, under the FE+S and FE+SV badges.

The base Sentra S model offers 16-inch steel wheels, a six-speed manual, air conditioning, six-way adjustable driver's seat and a tilt-and-telescoping steering column.

SV tops the S with cruise control and premium textile seat covers, while the SR tends for a sporty appearance with 17-inch alloys, lower side skirts, a rear spoiler. Optionally, customers can get the Driver's bundle, featuring rear disc brakes, a leather-dressed steering wheel plus keyless entry and ignition.

Under the FE+ nameplate, the Sentra is all about fuel efficiency obtained via tires with low rolling resistance, underbody air deflectors, and a rear spoiler.

The SL trim comprises all the above, plus fog lights, heated side mirrors, and a dual-zone climate control setup.


Acquisition

By sacrificing every drop of sportiness, Nissan created a very comfortable car under the Sentra badge.

If running costs are an important decision factor, then the Sentra is a model worthy of your attention, especially since practicality comes as a plus here.

However, the sedan's CVT problems can cause a few headaches couple with wallet holes, so it's up to you whether or not you're willing to settle for a less-equipped model just to get the manual.

Click on a model to learn more about it.

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