in 2011 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $10,913 - $13,737
Original MSRP: $16,060 - $20,620
MPG: 24 City / 31 Hwy
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2011 Nissan Sentra Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

There's nothing remarkable about the 2011 Nissan Sentra's power or handling, but test drivers don't find any significant problems either. Some reviewers complain about engine noise, particularly when the road gets a bit rougher, but they are impressed with the optional continuously variable transmission. 

  • "Those who prefer crisp handling response or brisk acceleration are likely to be disappointed, although moving up to the SE-R or SE-R Spec V models would dramatically change both elements of the overall performance equation." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 2.0-liter Sentras are smooth and devoid of surprises, but offer little fun." -- Car and Driver
  • "The engine buzzes at full throttle and doesn't completely settle down while cruising. Some road noise intrudes, but the cabin is well-isolated overall. Spec V has a raspier, performance-oriented exhaust note and more road noise." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The Sentra will get drivers to work, to the grocery store and home again without a problem, but drivers won’t be overwhelmed by the Sentra’s power.

The Sentra's 2.0, 2.0 S, 2.0 SR and 2.0 SL trims come equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 140 horsepower. The base Sentra comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, while an automatic CVT (continuously variable transmission) is available on higher trims.

Reviewers note that shoppers who want a more powerful car should try the SE-R or SE-R Spec V models, which have more power. The SE-R has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 177 horsepower and has a CVT, while the SE-R Spec V has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and has a six-speed manual transmission.

Fuel economy ratings for the Sentra vary depending on the engine and transmission selected. The 2.0-liter and automatic net 27/34 mpg city/highway, which are the highest ratings. 

  • "While it lacks the 'sport mode' found on several other Xtronic applications, this seamless automatic is a good match for the Sentra engine and offers EPA fuel economy ratings that are superior to those of the six-speed manual gearbox that's standard on the 2.0 S." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Make no mistake, the Sentra's fine four-cylinder engine and CVT make for an efficient combo in this modest compact. The CVT allows the engine to run at ridiculously low rpm on the highway, for example. The Sentra and I put in many miles of 75-mph cruise-control time, and even at that speed I was rewarded with the car's EPA-rated highway fuel economy of 33 mpg. Impressive." -- Washington Times
  • "The 2.0 models have decent around-town power, but passing punch is lacking." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

The automotive press says the Nissan Sentra’s ride is anything but smooth. The suspension absorbs many road bumps, creating a choppy ride.

  • "Sentra has a solid body structure, but a lack of suspension refinement means ride quality falls well short of the class leaders. Large bumps and rippled pavement bring about sloppy wheel patter and other unwanted motions. Spec V's ride is more controlled. It's stiffer but is never outright harsh." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Road imperfections are felt throughout the cabin, creating a relatively choppy ride." -- Edmunds

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