2022 Nissan Sentra Review Update

Chris Teague, Independent Expert | Apr 03, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Nissan deals!

The Nissan Sentra is a compact car with sleek styling and great standard features. After decades on the market, the car entered its eighth generation in 2020. It's truly an international car, as it's built and sold in countries worldwide. Having come out of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance, the Sentra's underlying architecture is also a global effort between Nissan and Renault.

Nissan saw decent sales numbers from the Sentra in most of the last five years, but things changed considerably in 2020. After selling more than 180,000 units each year between 2017 and 2019, Nissan moved just under 95,000 cars in 2020. Yes, there was a pandemic, and automakers had trouble building cars, but a 50-percent drop is notable regardless of the circumstances.

We last reviewed the 2020 Sentra. Updates since then include:

  • Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Available NissanConnect Services
  • Available All-Weather package (SV trim)
  • Midnight Edition package (SR trim)

Nissan offers the 2022 Sentra in three trim levels: S, SV, and SR. Pricing starts at $20,635, which includes a $1,025 destination charge. Available options are few and are mostly limited to accessories such as floor mats and cargo organization features.

Previously, J.D. Power reviewed the 2020 Nissan Sentra. This review focuses on the Sentra's updates for the 2021 and 2022 model years and how they potentially impact its overall appeal to consumers.

What Owners Say About the Nissan Sentra - Find the best Nissan deals!

2022 Nissan Sentra Orange Front Quarter View

The Nissan Sentra competes in the Compact Car market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 54 percent of new Nissan Sentra buyers are male (vs. 55 percent for the segment), and the median age of a new Sentra buyer is 51 years (vs. 50).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the Sentra in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Driving feel
  • Interior design
  • Fuel economy
  • Feeling of safety
  • Driving comfort
  • Setting up and starting
  • Powertrain
  • Infotainment system
  • Getting in and out

In the 2021 APEAL Study, the Sentra ranks highest out of 11 Compact Car models.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Nissan Sentra - Find the best Nissan deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes a Sentra SR equipped with the following options:

  • Midnight Edition package
  • All-season floor mats

The price of the test vehicle came to $25,135, including the $1,025 destination charge.

Standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto Enhance Comprehensive Tech Offerings

2022 Nissan Sentra Interior Front Seats

A 7-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard in the Sentra, but Nissan offers an 8-inch display for top trims. Both units run Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and other standard features include Bluetooth, USB inputs, hands-free texting, and an auxiliary input. The gauge cluster's 4.2-inch driver information display is standard, but the SV and SR trims get a 7-inch digital display.

That list of standard features sets the Sentra up to be one of the best-equipped cars in its price range, but the car's infotainment system isn't the most intuitive, nor is it the most responsive. Changing a setting or accessing a feature can take multiple taps, and the interface sometimes lags, which creates a distraction while driving. That said, it's far from the worst infotainment system out there. It's also worth noting that many people will use the included Apple or Android smartphone connections, which changes the interface to a familiar mirror of the features on the phone.

The Sentra also picked up NissanConnect Services in 2021, a suite of apps and tools accessible in the car. Basic features include:

  • Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio
  • Hands-free text-messaging assistant
  • Siri Eyes-Free
  • SiriusXM satellite radio
  • USB inputs
  • Voice recognition

Several add-on packages and features are available, including:

  • Convenience: concierge service, remote engine start
  • Security: Collision notifications, geographic boundary alerts, and more
  • Select: Remote door lock/unlock, alarm notifications

NissanConnect services differ from trim to trim. The base Sentra S misses out on all of it, but the SV and SR trims get the basic features and are available with various add-ons depending on the car.

The Sentra truly shines in the safety department, where it comes standard with a full suite of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). Included in every 2022 Nissan Sentra are:

Many new cars come standard with driver-assistance features, but plenty of holdouts still require added-cost options and packages. Even when an automaker feels generous with safety gear, features like blind-spot warning and rear automatic braking usually fall on the options list for extra cash.

New Midnight Edition Package Available on SR Trim

After 40 years on sale and eight generations, the Sentra's been through plenty of changes in its lifetime. Early on, the car was classed as a subcompact but got an upgrade to the compact category around 20 years ago. Over the years, Nissan has offered the Sentra in sedancoupehatchback, and even a funky 3-door format, but today the car comes exclusively as a 4-door sedan.

With the 2020 redesign, Nissan considerably sharpened the Sentra's styling over previous generations. The automaker's "V-motion" grille features prominently on the front end and comes accented with chrome and black trim. Floating C-pillars and sculpted sides give the Sentra a sporty look, and the sloping roof helps make it appear longer than it is. The new Midnight Edition package, available on the sporty SR trim, includes a black-painted V-motion grille, rear spoiler and rear diffuser, as well as black exterior badging and black 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

Interior design and finishes are surprisingly upscale, especially for a car with a $20,000 starting price. Top trims get a 7-inch color digital gauge display, but even the instrumentation on lower trims is intuitive and easy to read. Unique touches like round air vents, contrast stitching, and metal accents add a thoughtful touch to the car's cabin and make it a more engaging, pleasant place to spend time.

How Does the Sentra Drive?

2022 Nissan Sentra Blue Profile View

The Sentra sees 149 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque from its naturally aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. It's paired exclusively with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive. If that combo sounds sedate, that's because it is, but it gets the job done. In town, the Sentra's more than capable of keeping pace with traffic, but it never feels lively or eager to respond to the driver's right foot. The same is true on the highway, where merging and passing require planning.

After two decades of development and production, Nissan's CVTs are among the best today, but it's still not as engaging or refined as a traditional automatic transmission. That said, there's more noise and droning from the engine than expected. Hard acceleration further compounds the problem.

The ride quality is fine, but the handling is far from sporty. That's not a massive problem in a car like the Sentra, whose main job is to carry a few people from one location to another efficiently. Steering and braking feel are both confidence-inspiring, though the extra-light steering sometimes makes the car feel distant and disconnected from the driver.

Nissan doesn't offer a hybrid or plug-in hybrid option for the Sentra, but most people won't miss it. Most trims return 29 mpg in the city, 39 mpg on the highway, and 33 mpg combined. The sporty SR trim delivers slightly lower efficiency numbers, at 28 mpg city, 37 mpg on the highway, and 32 combined. Those numbers are solid, but it's important to remember that some of the Sentra's rivals do even better. The non-hybrid Hyundai Elantra, for example, returns up to 37 mpg combined.

Is the Sentra a Good Value? What About the Competition?

In a word: Yes. A $20,000 starting price, solid safety equipment, and standard desirable tech features is an excellent place to be for a compact car. Though it lacks zest, the Sentra's powertrain is adequate, and it offers enough interior space for a small family, making it a handsome prospect. That said, the sting of the car's uninteresting and somewhat unrefined driving experience will stick around a lot longer than the excitement of a low price. The mid-range SV trim is the value pick here, as it adds better tech and comfort features for very little additional cash.

Small cars aren't as popular as just a few years ago, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the Sentra's rivals. The segment offers plenty of lovely cars that include:

Though many of its competitors are more expensive to start, the Sentra lags many cars in critical areas such as performance and comfort/convenience. The Sentra's age is already starting to show at just two years old, with cars like the new-for-2022 Honda Civic showing up. The Civic is also one of the best—if not the best—cars in the segment. Honda's redesign of the car brought a stunning interior, lively turbocharged powertrains, and there's a high-performance Si trim for people craving speed. Again, most forms of the Civic are more expensive than the Sentra, but they are measurably better in many ways.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Nissan deals!

2022 Nissan Sentra Orange Rear Quarter View

Properly aligned expectations are essential with anything you buy, but they play a vital role in how you feel about the car you buy and drive daily. Expecting the Nissan Sentra to deliver thrills or a luxurious experience is a recipe for disappointment and can make the vehicle seem terrible when it's far from it. Buyers should view the Sentra as a value-forward sedan with generous tech and safety features. It's better than basic transportation, but not by light years, which is what its price tag suggests.

Speaking of expectations, it's not unreasonable for a buyer to expect a comfortable, well-equipped car, and the Sentra delivers on both. The front seats—Nissan's Zero Gravity seats, to be specific—are magnificently comfortable. The seats are nicely padded, and the 6-way adjustments make it easy for almost anyone to find a good driving position. They're also surprisingly spacious, with deep buckets and good bolstering for hip and back support.

Despite its sharp styling and sporty stance, the Sentra is not a performance car. With just 149 hp on tap, the driver's right foot can do little to motivate the car with any genuine enthusiasm. It's an unrefined drivetrain that makes too much noise, especially when accelerating. The tradeoff here is in fuel economy, where the Sentra almost makes up for its shortcomings under the hood. With up to 39 mpg on the highway and 33 mpg combined, the car is efficient, and the 12.4-gallon fuel tank means it can cruise the highway for hours before needing to stop for fuel.

However, even with its compelling features, the Sentra just can't reach the bar set by the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, and others. Both cars are available in exciting high-performance variants, but even the more pedestrian models are engaging and refined—two things the Sentra direly lacks.

Chris Teague is an automotive journalist with several years of experience covering tech, new vehicles, industry trends, and breaking news. In addition to JDPower.com, his work has appeared in numerous digital and print publications, marketing journals, and national ad campaigns.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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