Dukes up, 2022 Nissan Sentra. Here comes the all-new Civic

2021 Nissan Sentra SR

by Chuck Giametta

What changes will make the 2022 Nissan Sentra different?

Nothing major as this compact car continues to surf the wake of a model-year-2020 redesign that emboldened styling, bolstered road manners, and bettered the interior. The ’22 Sentra will return as a roomy front-wheel-drive four-door sedan with one engine choice and strong value-for-money appeal.

In fact, it’ll probably rely on the wholesale improvement wrought by the 2020 redesign to carry it little changed to model-year 2024 or ’25, when it’s due a midcycle refresh. Meantime, Nissan will concentrate on launching all-new editions of its better-selling and more profitable crossover SUVs, such as the Rogue and Pathfinder.   

Should I wait for the 2022 Nissan Sentra or buy a 2021?

2021 Sentra SR

Buy a ‘21. The ’22 Sentra is unlikely to change enough to wait for, and it’ll almost certainly cost a little more. One reason to wait, though, would be to cross shop against the fully redesigned version of the segment’s best car: the eagerly awaited ‘22 Honda Civic.

Look for the 2022 Sentra to repeat its 2021 model lineup: base S, better-equipped SV, and sport-flavored SR. All will return with 149 horsepower and a laudable array of standard safety features. The SV should again be available with premium-car-worthy quilted leather upholstery, the SR with a trendy two-tone paint scheme.

There’s little indication Nissan plans an elevated-performance edition of the Sentra to compete with the Civic Si, Hyundai Elantra N Line, Kia Forte GT, Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo, and Jetta GLI. All of those have more than 200 horsepower. And the Mazda – like the Subaru Impreza — comes with all-wheel-drive.

There’s no hybrid in Sentra’s future to match the Elantra Hybrid, Honda Insight, or Hyundai Ioniq. And the Civic, Impreza, and Mazda 3 will continue as the only rivals to offer both sedan and hatchback body styles.

Will 2022 Nissan Sentra styling be different?

2021 Sentra SV

There may be a new color choice or two, but don’t expect Sentra’s styling to change before the mid-decade refresh; even then, it won’t be extensive. The ’22 will continue the look that came with the model-year-2020 redesign.

Nissan reshaped the body, emphasizing the brand-identity “V-motion” grille and rear floating-roof effect. It lowered Sentra’s overall height 2 inches but widened the car a significant 2.2 inches. It elongated the body a half-inch and retained one of the segment’s longest wheelbases (the distance between the front and rear axles).

The ’22 will retain this improved stance, but some abrupt sheet-metal angles will keep it more attention-grabbing than beautiful.

Visually, the 2022 SR should again be the most distinctive Sentra. It’ll return with exclusives like a dark-chrome grille, LED fog lamps, black mirrors, lower-body sill extensions, rear spoiler, and a chrome exhaust tip. It should also remain the only model available with a black-painted roof, an especially eye-catching option when paired with white or Monarch Orange body color.

Expect the S and SV to retain halogen headlamps. LED headlights, along with LED daytime running lights, should remain standard on the SR. Wheel size and design will also remain differentiators. The S should again come with 16-inch steel wheels with plastic wheel covers. The SV should return with 16-inch alloys standard and 17-inch alloys optional. Look for the SR to again have 18-inch alloys.

2021 Sentra SR

Upscale interior design and décor ought to remain selling points. All models will again have a fashionable flat-bottom steering wheel and round central air vents inspired by those in Nissan’s GT-R supercar (and similar to those in some Mercedes-Benz vehicles).

Contrast-stitching on dashboard and seats is another standard spiff. Cloth should again be the default upholstery across the board, graduating from basic fabric to a “sport-leatherette” combo in the SR. Included with the SV Premium Package, the tan leather upholstery with quilted inserts seems purloined from Nissan’s luxury Infiniti brand.

2021 Sentra SV Premium Package quilted leather

Expect the S to retain a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, the SV and SR an 8-incher. Both are mounted tablet-style and conveniently include physical knobs for main audio functions.

All ’22 Sentras will return with Bluetooth streaming audio and phone connection, as well as Siri Eyes Free Voice Recognition. The S should again come with one front USB port with an iPod interface and one rear charge-only USB port. The SV and SR should again add a second Type C front port for charging and data-transmission.    

Several competitors offer imbedded navigation that doesn’t require a cell signal for real-time GPS mapping. Don’t look for Nissan to make one available in the Sentra. Instead, it should continue to fit all models with the NissanConnect interface with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing app-based navigation with mapping displayed on the dash screen. For model-year’ 21, the SR gained WiFi hotspot capability, a feature Nissan could extend to other models for ’22.     

2021 Sentra SR

The design of Sentra’s central dashboard deserves special mention. The physical controls augmenting the screen, the stylish vents, and a climate system with clear markings and inviting knurled knobs are wonderfully executed.

On the downside, the steering wheel is annoyingly offset slightly to the left of the driver’s-seat centerline. A foot-pedal seems anachronistic in these days of button-operated electric parking brakes. And the touchscreen in our test SR was especially prone to retaining fingerprints and, oddly, an unusual degree of clouding.

But this will remain an appealing cabin overall. Materials are solid and most everything you touch regularly is padded or polished. Front and rear, seating is comfortable, supportive, and roomy. As in any compact, the back seat is a squeeze for three grownups, but two will enjoy generous legroom. If it’s an SV or SR model, they’ll also get a fold-down center armrest with two cupholders.

2021 Sentra SR rear seat

Door pockets, console bins and cubbies make for a useful array of small-items storage. At 14.3 cubic feet, trunk volume is near the top of the class and all models come with a 60/40 split/folding rear seatback for extra versatility. Load carefully, though, or risk damage from the trunklid’s exposed gooseneck hinges.

Any 2022 Nissan Sentra mechanical changes?

2021 Sentra SV

Extremely unlikely, mostly because Nissan’s settled on a formula that serves Sentra’s audience quite nicely. Certainly, the option of more power would be welcome. But most Sentra drivers will never want for quicker acceleration. And all should appreciate this compact sedan’s surprisingly accomplished ride and handling.

Expect the 2022 Sentra’s sole engine to remain a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 149 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. (Think of torque as the force that gets a vehicle moving, horsepower as the energy that keeps it moving.) While top competitors offer turbocharged fours with more horsepower and torque, Sentra’s output is on par with that of most rivals’ base engines.

An increasing number of automakers are also turning to continuously variable transmissions, or CVTs, for their small cars and crossovers. A CVT performs the duties of a conventional automatic transmission but without stepped gear ratios. Nissan’s been using CVTs longer than most and the one that’ll again be the ’22 Sentra’s sole transmission performs better than most.

It works smoothly with the engine to extract maximum available power in a wide range of driving. They team for good acceleration around town and enough oomph for drama-free highway merging.

Moving the floor shifter from “D” to “L” mode maintains higher engine rpm, sharpening throttle response for greater freedom to pass or slip through gaps in traffic. This transmission also seems to minimize unpleasant droning as engine speed races ahead of vehicle speed, a common CVT foible during full-throttle acceleration.

Still, at 8 seconds 0-60 mph, Sentra trails its turbocharged competition by up to a second. You’ll seldom notice the deficit in everyday driving. But if you’re trying to maintain an aggressive pace, you will miss Sentra’s inability to match those turbos’ reservoir of power and torque from midrange speeds on up.

2021 Sentra SR

No apologies or qualifications necessary for Sentra’s road manners. Nissan made a wise investment when moved the redesigned 2020 Sentra to the more advanced understructure that underpins the Rogue and Rogue Sport crossovers. It coupled that with a switch to more sophisticated underpinnings that feature an independent rear suspension in place of a torsion-beam rear axle.

The ’22 Sentra will continue to reap the rewards of that commitment. The notably solid structure is a fitting foundation for the well-tuned suspension. Steering is firm and accurate, and the car changes direction with surefooted confidence – albeit with a bit more body lean than might seem appropriate.

This sense of “soft” control is evident in the way it rides. Bumps, ruts, and tar strips are absorbed with minimal disturbance to the cabin. Cornering composure is maintained even over rippled pavement. And reassuring highway-speed stability couples with good noise suppression to create a compact car that’s an amicable companion on long trips.

Will 2022 Nissan Sentra fuel economy improve?

2021 Sentra SR

With no changes to mechanical specs, 2022 Sentra EPA ratings should repeat those of the ’21 car. Here, the relatively modest engine power and CVT efficiencies should again pay dividends in mileage near the top of the class.

With ratings differing marginally to account for tire size and vehicle weight, expect the 2022 Sentra S and SV to again rate an impressive 29/39/33 mpg city/highway/combined. Look for the ’22 Sentra SR to again rate 28/37/32 mpg city/highway/combined.

Will there be new 2022 Nissan Sentra features?

2021 Sentra SV

We’d like to see Nissan match some rivals by adding the convenience of automatic hold that doesn’t require the driver to maintain brake-pedal pressure when stopped. Don’t expect it to introduce an electric parking brake, but imbedded navigation is a possibility if the automaker determines it a competitive necessity.

Still, the 2022 Sentra should return a creditable array of standard features along with just two comprehensive options packages. Vitally, Nissan Safety Shield 360 will again be standard on every model, besting some competitors that don’t offer a comparable safety suite on entry-level trims.

Nissan Safety Shield 360 consists of autonomous emergency braking designed to automatically stop the Sentra to mitigate a frontal collision with another vehicle, object, or pedestrian. It also includes blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection with rear autonomous braking (also rare as standard in this class). Highbeam headlights that automatically dim for oncoming traffic are also included.

Some competitors, though, come standard with adaptive cruise control, which can maintain a set distance from traffic ahead. For model-year ’22, this driver assist will probably remain exclusive to Sentra SV and SR, as standard. Expect the SR to again come with Nissan’s around-view monitor, which projects a bird’s-eye video view on the dash screen to help maneuvering in tight quarters.  

All 2022 Sentras will return with Nissan’s Easy-Fill Tire Alert as standard. It helpfully toots the horn when you’ve pumped a tire to proper inflation. In addition to standard features mentioned earlier, expect SV and SR models to return with satellite radio, dual-zone automatic climate control, and remote engine start.

Will 2022 Nissan Sentra prices be different?

2021 Sentra SR

They’ll probably increase marginally but should again undercut base prices of key rivals by as much as $1,000. That’s noteworthy in this price-sensitive segment. Base-price estimates here include Nissan’s designation fee, which was $925 on the ’21 Sentra.

Expect the 2022 Nissan Sentra S to be priced around $20,550. Estimated base price for the ’22 Sentra SV is $21,600 and for the SR, it’s $22,900.

Nissan should again concentrate 2022 Sentra factory options in two packages that are unlikely to change much in content or price. Both would again contain desirable enhances but represent a big boost to a Sentra’s purchase price. 

The SV Premium Package ($2,270 for model-year 2021) should again include the aforementioned 17-inch alloy wheels and quilted leather upholstery. It should also include a power tilt/slide moonroof, a power driver’s seat with power lumbar, heated front seats, and a leather shift knob.

The SR Premium Package (also $2,270 for ’21) would again include the SV package content plus the aforementioned cloth/leatherette upholstery, LED headlights and daytime running lights, and bird’s-eye monitor. Also returning in the package should be a heated steering wheel, Bose-brand audio upgrade, an automatic-dimming rearview mirror, and sunvisors with illuminated vanity mirrors.

The SR’s black roof should return at $250 or $595, depending on the body color it’s paired with. Finally, black instead of polished 18-inch alloys should again be a $690 SR option.  

When does the 2022 Nissan Sentra come out?

2021 Sentra SR

Expect a 2022 Sentra release date in fall 2021.

Best 2022 Nissan Sentra competitors

Honda Civic and Insight, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Mazda 3, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Jetta

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]