2022 Nissan Sentra Review

2022 Nissan Sentra - Sentra spotlights a value-drive ride


Nissan’s Sentra has dotted dealership landscapes since it’s 1982 U.S. introduction and now finds itself in the midst of an eighth-generation effort unveiled in the 2020 model year.  It’s been a while since a venerable Sentra got dropped off for testing.  When arriving on a beautiful late summer day, the first impression sparking to mind?  ‘This is not a Sentra of old.’

A handsome four-door compact pulled up with larger dimensions remembered from past experiences with a white body color contrasting with black roof, black A and C pillars and darkened alloy spokes.

It’s an affordable, front-wheel exclusive choice with a starting price ($19,510) below many worthy rivals in the hotly-contested compact sedan segment, a key factor for those working within tighter budget confines. This below-twenty-grand price checks in lower than compact sedans touted by Korean automakers Hyundai (Elantra with a $21,245 starting price in 2022) and Kia (Forte with its $20,185 entry), perennial lower-cost marketers.   

Unlike domestics auto giants General Motors and Ford, Nissan continues offering a full-range of four-door family-friendly sedans.  Ford and GM now assemble a full-line of five-door crossovers with nary a sedan in sight.

Size wise, Sentra huddles between the subcompact Versa and mid-size Altima sedans in Nissan’s product line up.  For those looking for ultimate room, Maxima leads that charge.  Of all these sedan choices, Sentra historically leads in sales volume. In the 2021 calendar year, Sentra topped 127,861 units sold in the U.S., a whopping 35 percent increase over the year prior.

While Sentra remains exclusively a gas-propelled transport, Nissan continues developing electric vehicles (EVs) at a steady clip.  The well-recognized diminutive Leaf, introduced more than a dozen years ago, illuminated the stage for EVs aimed at a mass-market, mainstream clientele.

Three returning trims include S, SV and top-choice SR. Updates for 2022 remain minimal since the next-gen redesign two years ago save for a new SR grade Midnight Edition Package and all-weather package for SV grades.

Powering all trims is a returning naturally aspirated (non-turbocharged) 2.0-liter four-cylinder inline engine delivering an adequate 149 horsepower and connecting up with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).  Historically, CVT’s help perk up fuel economy through a system of infinite ratios rather than set number of planetary gears. It’s generally not considered a performance selection.  Nissan’s been building and developing CVTs longer than just about any major automaker with better-than-industry average reliability results.

Fuel economy registers 28 miles per gallon city and 37 mpg highway, slightly above average within the segment. The tank holds 12.4 gallons of regular, 87-octane fuel.

Our top line SR tester included a $22,100 starting point. Exclusive to this top trim, comforting sport cloth seating with contrasting orange trim and leather-wrapped shift knob. Extras added included a recommended-if-budgets allow two-tone premium paint ($595) and 18-inch black alloy wheels ($690) delivering an eye-pleasing, contrasting visual upgrade.  A Premium Package ($2,470) included thin-style LED headlamps, power moonroof, six-way power heated driver’s seat, heated steering wheel, upgraded 8-speaker stereo and XM radio with hotspot access.  A $975 destination charge, $205 worth of floor mats and a $500 ambient interior lighting package inched the bottom line to $27,615, representing one of the priciest Sentras on tap in 2022.

The new Special Midnight Edition bases off the SR trim and adds exclusive black rear spoiler, heated outside mirrors with LED turn signal indicators along with LED fog lights starting at $23,095.

Sentra’s stylish exterior includes pleasantries without stepping into a polarizing dimension.  All trims include a single left-end exhaust pipe, strap-like door handles and U-patterned front grille flanked by narrow headlight housing. 

Inside the U one finds a honeycomb filling and circular Nissan logo front and center.  Back end window frames include a chrome, 45-degree boot heal kick up altering the C pilar appearance in a good fashion. Top SR trims add a body-colored lip spoiler at the back edge of the tiny deck lid.

Light steering adds a satisfactory level of play via the three-spoke, flat bottom wheel. Brakes don’t grab initially, with an inch or two of give before gently slowing down. The parking brake returns as mechanically foot operated. With four side doors and windows generating ample see-through glass, drivers encounter minimal blind spots.

The seven-inch instrument panel combines both analog and digital worlds with two full-circle analog orbs at each end with a left-side tachometer and temperature insert and right-side speedometer with fuel-gauge insert.  The central digital area includes multiple window choices selected via buttons found on the steering wheel face with a constant top row of digital information including outside temperature and digital time.  A second lower row broadcasts digital tachometer and mileage-to-empty readouts.

Visually anchoring the center dash is a comparatively small (by current industry standards) 8-inch multi-function touch screen in SL and SV trims (7-inches with S). It’s brightly backlit with easily identifiable in-screen icons.  Smartly, circular on-off-volumes and tuning knobs are easily accessible.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Smartphone Interplay come standard in all trims while Satellite radio is available on in the upper two trims. Smartphones get an assist from standard Bluetooth technology providing hands-free interaction with the phones. Two USB ports locate towards the bottom of the center console and one’s available for back row travelers. 

Three large, in-row circular air vents anchor under the screen. Below the vents, the HVAC includes two twist dials controlling temperature at each end of a digital display window and push buttons below monitoring fan direction, speed and defrost functions. 

Both the electronic start/stop push button summoning up engine activity and vertically sliding CVT shifter reside between front buckets along with dual beverage holders. 

The comfortable rear compartment features better-than-expected head room and decent leg room with front buckets adjusted for normal operation.  Two ride in ultimate style and if needed, three adults could manage in a pinch. Seatbacks manually fold forward in a 60/40 fashion creating a relatively flat surface once cylinders atop the backrest get yanked upward. 

The flat-bottomed, long trunk boasts an impressive 14.3 cubic feet of cargo room with goose-neck style braces helping lower the lid which could crunch larger boxes if stowed awkwardly inside.  Outer-bank, shock-absorber style lowering gear would eliminate this effect.

The long-running, now shapely Sentra continues executing well.  While not excelling in any one category, it provides comfortable transportation powered by a pleasant four cylinder delivering strong fuel economy with a logical interior layout and ultra-competitive starting price.  In addition, all trims include ‘Safety Shield 360,’ a suite of camera and radar-enhanced safety technologies working in concert to better safekeep occupants.

2022 Toyota Nissan Sentra
Price as tested: $27,615
Engine: 2.0-liter four cylinder
Horsepower: 149
Wheelbase: 106.6 inches
Overall Length: 182.7 inches
Overall Width: 71.5 inches
Overall Height: 57.0 inches
Curb Weight:  3,084 pounds
Fuel Economy:    28 mpg city/37 mpg highway
Assembly: Mexico

Dave Boe

Dave Boe, a lifetime Chicago area resident, worked at the Daily Herald, Illinois' third-largest daily newspaper, for 24 years. In 1989, the Daily Herald began a weekly Saturday Auto Section and he was shortly appointed editor. The product quickly grew into one of the largest weekend sections in the paper thanks to his locally-written auto reviews, the introduction of a local automotive question-and-answer column, a new colorful format and news happenings from Chicago area new-car dealerships.

Five years later, a second weekly auto section debuted on Mondays with Boe adding an industry insight column and introducing a "Love Affair with Your Car" column where readers sent in their own automotive memories for publication. During the next 10 years, the number of weekly auto sections Boe edited and coordinated grew to five and featured expanded NASCAR racing coverage, a dealer spotlight/profile feature and a Car Club Calendar where grass-roots automobile clubs could publish upcoming events for free. Boe also introduced more local automotive columnists into the pages of the sections, all of whom were seasoned members of the well respected Midwest Automotive Media Association. In 1997, Boe earned the Employee of the Year award from the Daily Herald.

Boe is a founding member and current president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. He has degrees in Journalism and Business Administration from Northern Illinois University.