The 2011 Nissan Sentra is a decent economy sedan, though most reviewers agree that there are better choices that offer more for the same price. Exterior styling and general performance are undistinguished in a sea of newer competitors such as the fuel-sipping and stylish 2011 Hyundai Elantra (Base MSRP: $14,830 to $19,980) and fun-to-drive 2011 Mazda3 (Base MSRP: $15,800 to $23,010). The Sentra carries over in 2011 with few changes; fuel efficiency has been slightly increased, and antilock brakes and electronic stability control are now standard across all trims.
The Sentra's 2-liter, four-cylinder engine returns unremarkable fuel economy with either the manual or CVT automatic transmission. When matched to the six-speed stick, this engine delivers 24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 27 mpg in mixed driving, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The CVT automatic improves these numbers by about 2 mpg for each measure. For comparison's sake, the new 2011 Hyundai Elantra gets a combined rating of 33 mpg from its standard engine. The performance-themed Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec-V comes equipped with a more powerful 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that's rated at 24 mpg city/31 mpg highway/29 mpg combined with the automatic and 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway/24 mpg combined with the manual.
The 2011 Nissan Sentra includes front airbags, side airbags, side curtain airbags, antilock brakes and electronic stability control as standard equipment. Crash results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are average; the Sentra gets the highest rating of Good for front- and side-impact protection and a lower rating of Acceptable for rear-impact protection. Many economy cars fare better in IIHS testing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Sentra a rating of 3 stars out of 5 for front and side protection, and a 4-star rating for rollover resistance.
The 2011 Nissan Sentra's base MSRP ranges from $15,540 for the base Sentra 2.0 to $20,400 for the sportier Sentra SE-R Spec V.
Aside from roominess, the editors of Edmunds.com don't find many reasons to buy the Nissan Sentra over its newer and more well-rounded competitors. The 2011 Sentra is essentially unchanged from the previous model year.
Review: 2011 Nissan Sentra, Editors of Edmunds.com
ConsumerReports.org has tested the Nissan Sentra and provides driving impressions and comparisons with other vehicles in its class. ConsumerReports.org also provides well-respected reliability data on many new models.
Review: New Cars: Small Cars, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
3. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The 2011 Nissan Sentra gets the highest rating of Good for both front- and side-impact protection but only an Acceptable rating for rear-impact protection. The Sentra ranks on the lower end of available compact cars.
Review: Small Cars, Editors of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2011 Nissan Sentra an overall crash-test score of 4 stars. Front- and side-impact protection get a 3-star rating, while rollover resistance gets a 4-star rating out of 5.
Review: 5-Star Safety Ratings, Editors of SaferCar.gov
The 2011 Nissan Sentra is rated at 24 to 29 mpg in mixed driving, depending on the trim level. There are many other models that deliver greater fuel efficiency in this class.
Review: 2011 Nissan Sentra, Editors of FuelEconomy.gov
The 2011 Nissan Sentra carries over into this year essentially unchanged since the current generation's introduction. Our full report on the 2008 model provides a detailed analysis of expert reviews and opinions.
Review: 2008 Nissan Sentra, Editors of ConsumerSearch.com