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The Nissan Sentra is the compact sedan model in Nissan’s core passenger car line that includes other consumer favorites like the Altima and the Maxima. Though not as popular as those two, the Sentra nonetheless holds down its fair share of the small car market.
While it may lack the V-6 engines and near-luxury amenities of its larger siblings, it is still designed with the same focus on comfort and technology. It feels more spacious than many rivals, and comes with the comfortable, award-winning Nissan seats. It is also equipped with a good selection of modern technical amenities.
The current generation of the Sentra is not particularly new as it dates back to 2013, but it did see an update in 2016 that improved the car’s styling and added a few nice features. Last year, Nissan also introduced two additional trim levels and a new engine. While the lineup remains unchanged for this year, the Sentra does have a slightly more complex selection of trims than some other compact cars.
Compare the 2018 Sentra S vs SV Trims. What is the difference?
The base Sentra S does not have many exciting features, but it covers all of the basics nicely. It includes all of the basics like keyless entry, cruise control and air conditioning. A rearview camera is standard, projected on a 5-inch color screen that also handles the information for the standard Bluetooth and the four-speaker sound system. The Sentra S comes in both manual transmission and a continuously variable one, but stick shift enthusiasts should take heed.
While the CVT model comes with a forward collision warning system and automatic emergency braking, the manual models do not. The manual Sentra S also can’t be equipped with either of the two optional packages: an appearance package that replaces the 16-inch steel wheels with alloy ones and adds a rear spoiler, and the Midnight Style package that has its own alloy wheels and offers blacked-out side mirrors instead of the spoiler.
The Sentra SV is a little more premium than the S and comes with a larger variety of package options, though it is one of the CVT-only models. Push button start, dual-zone automatic climate control and a nicer cloth upholstery are the major standard features, and it also comes with standard alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, two more speakers, and satellite radio support.
The SV gives buyers two optional packages, with an option to get either, both or none. The Premium Package upgrades the infotainment system and adds a sunroof. The updated infotainment includes a 5.8-inch touchscreen, navigation with live traffic information, voice command controls, and the ability to use some mobile apps through your phone using the NissanConnect Mobile Apps service. The second optional package for the SV is the All Weather package that adds heated front seats and heated side mirrors.
In terms of price, the Sentra S and SV are not very far apart - less than $1,000 difference in MSPR - when both are equipped with the automatic transmission. For that money, the SV is a very solid upgrade, as the premium upholstery represents a big jump in quality over the base cloth and the digital climate control is rapidly becoming an industry standard. The two optional packages for the SV are also offer very good value, with the Premium Package standing out in particular for including a moonroof, a navigation system and a touch screen all for less than $1,000 increase in list price.
If any of those features interest you, going with the SV will be the better choice, as both the regular SV model and its optional packages are easily worth the upgrade even if you are only after one or two of the features included.However, if you can live without all of those, then a Sentra S with the CVT is still a good value, especially now that it includes some active safety features. The manual model of the S is not a good choice however, and will not make sense to most buyers unless they are both invested in having a manual transmission car and are on a tight budget.
Compare the 2018 Nissan Sentra SV vs SR Trim Levels. What is the difference?
Originally, the SR was meant as a more performance-oriented trim level for the Sentra, but it focuses more on the appearance rather than the actual driving experience. An upgrade to the SR from the SV gives the Sentra larger 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, fog lights, and adaptive cruise control. The premium cloth seats also get a special sporty design and both the interior and the exterior gets some performance styling. Heated seats and outside mirrors are also standard.
The one performance upgrade that the SR gets over the SV are rear disk brakes. Those offer slightly better stopping power than the drum brakes on the S and the SV, but more importantly they also last longer and are less expensive to replace.
The SR can be equipped with an optional Technology Package, which is very similar to the SV Premium Package. It has the upgraded infotainment system with navigation, as well as blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, though a moonroof is not a part of it. The SR Premium Package includes all of the contents of the Technology Package as well as the moonroof, and adds power seating, Bose audio, and leather upholstery into the mix.
Finally, the Midnight Style package offers the same black-out look as the S version of the same. Despite its sporty looks, the SR is only available with the CVT.
Without either of the two major package options, the SR offers fairly little over the SV besides the rear disk brakes and the dynamic cruise control, for roughly $1,000 more when the included all-weather package is taken into account. Those two options, together with the brighter headlights, offer slightly more safety and convenience than the SV, making the decision between the two levels primarily dependent on how strongly you feel about those features. With the Premium Package, the SR offers a much better return on investment than the SV when it comes to safety though. However, if you don’t care about the blind spot monitors and just want the updated infotainment, then the SV’s Premium Package is the better deal.
Compare the Sentra SR vs SR Turbo Trims. What is the difference?
While the base Sentra SR does not offer much in terms of additional performance compared to the SV, the SR Turbo does. It trades in the regular 1.8-liter four cylinder for a 1.6-liter turbo. The horsepower increases significantly from 124 to 188, and there is more low-end torque to launch the car from a stop. The model also comes with an improved suspension and tightened up steering feel, making it a more confident performer than the other Sentras. In addition to those features, the SR Turbo also comes standard with a moonroof. It has the same available Premium Package as the SR, but neither the Technology Package nor the Midnight Style package are carried over.The better handling and increased power of the Turbo are definitely noticeable over driving a regular Sentra. That said, the Sentra SR Turbo is a sportier car, but it is far from a sports car. It is more suited to people who find the regular Sentra a little weak after stepping down from a mid-size sedan or a crossover than to genuine performance enthusiasts. It also lacks a manual transmission option, which is limited to the higher-end turbocharged NISMO model, and locks you into the more expensive Premium Package if you want the advanced infotainment system. In general, if you are satisfied with the base power of the Nissan Sentra, then you can probably give this model a pass. If you need a little extra, then this model can be a good deal, but be aware that it comes with compromises.
Compare the Sentra SV vs SL Trim Levels. What is the difference?
The Nissan Sentra SL is the premium version of the car. It builds on the SL model instead of the SR, but it has a lot of the same equipment. Adaptive cruise control, fog lights and a moonroof are standard, as is the leather interior and the Bose audio. It also includes as standard equipment all of the optional upgrades available on the SV and the SR, such as the advanced infotainment, the power sears and the blind spot monitors with rear cross traffic alerts. Larger 17-inch alloy wheels are also the standard part of the SL package.
The Sentra SL is basically the all-in-one model of the Sentra, short of the sport suspension and steering on the SR and the turbocharged engine from the SR Turbo. As such, it does not include any optional packages to choose from.
When deciding whether to go with the Sentra SL, one of the biggest decisions to make is whether you want the leather seating. It is the same leather seating offered on the SR and SR Turbo Premium Package, which has met mixed reception from both our testing and automotive critics in general. While it is a fairly nice material, it does not compare particularly favorably compared to the very nice premium cloth upholstery on the SV and SR models.
Compare the 2018 Nissan Sentra SL vs NISMO Trims. What is the difference?
The NISMO is a combination of the performance features from the SR Turbo, including the Turbo engine, and the luxury and comfort features from the Sentra SL, albeit with a few notable omissions. The NISMO does not have power seating or a moonroof, for example. It also replaces the leather of the SL with a premium suede upholstery, and the leather accents are redone in Alcantara.
In general, both look and feel nicer than their SL counterparts. The NISMO is also trimmed out in sporty, NISMO-branded accessories like carbon fiber accents, special 18-inch wheels and an aerodynamic body kit. It also is the only Sentra, apart from the S, that is available with either a manual transmission or the CVT. It is powered by the same turbocharged engine as the SR Turbo.
The Sentra NISMO is, for the most part, a pretty solid improvement on both the SL and the SR, though at the cost of a few convenience features. Like the SR Turbo, it still falls somewhat short of feeling like a real sports car, but it does feel fairly lively when driving. In terms of comfort, it is better than SL in some ways and worse in others, making it a difficult choice. In terms of performance, it is clearly superior.
Which Trim Level to Choose?
The 2018 Nissan Sentra, with its many different trim levels, can offer a good value to many different kinds of shoppers. In general, the lower trims of the Sentra tend to offer the better value. The base S has a basic but complete feature set without any major omissions, while the SV can be fine-tuned with a number of packages that offer a lot of impact for the price.
The SR builds on those feature sets with a few extra safety and convenience features, and more package options. The higher end SL and NISMO models have a good selection, but both have their drawbacks that keep them from being an unequivocally better choice than some of the other trim. In general, the SV with the Premium Package or the SR with the Technology Package offer the best combination of features and price, as they cover most of the common must-have items while still being relatively inexpensive for the segment.
• Why buy a 2018 Nissan Sentra? w/ pros vs cons