The 2011 Nissan Sentra offers a spacious interior and balances respectable power with fuel economy, but it lacks the charisma and athleticism of its rivals.
The 2011 Nissan Sentra makes its case as a reasonable choice for a shopper in the market for a small sedan. Thanks to high fuel economy, spacious seating and plenty of features, the Sentra gets high marks in the areas that matter to most people. Nissan also offers the SE-R and SE-R Spec V trim levels for those seeking bigger thrills. Taken as a whole, however, the Sentra isn't the most inspired car in its class.
Under the hood, the Sentra is pretty competitive. Most Sentra models come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 140 horsepower while still getting up to 34 mpg on the highway. The high-performance SE-R model offers 177 hp from a larger 2.5-liter engine, while the SE-R Spec V takes this engine's output right up to 200 hp.
But the Sentra falls to midpack when its handling abilities are considered. The lower-level models of the Sentra just aren't particularly fun to drive, and there's no payoff in terms of ride quality either, as the suspension isn't very compliant over rough surfaces. Even the top-shelf Sentra SE-R Spec V trails the pack of high-performance cars with which it tries to
Overall, the 2011 Nissan Sentra is worth considering for the right price. But it's more practical than desirable. We'd suggest considering alternatives like the 2011 Honda Civic, 2011 Kia Forte and 2011 Mazda 3, all of which offer similar or better driving excitement while still retaining plenty of practicality. In a segment that's increasingly about being fun as well as being smart, the Sentra wilts next to the charms of its rivals.