The Nissan Sentra gets a makeover for the 2020 model year and is a better vehicle inside and out. The Sentra now has handsome and aggressive looks, a new powertrain, an upgraded cabin and more tech. The redesign was needed to make the Sentra worthy of consideration in the competitive in the compact car category which includes perennial favorites the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.
The five-passenger Sentra is available in three trims: S, SV and SR. Starting prices range from $19,090 to $21,430, which is lower than many rivals. The Sentra has front-wheel-drive.
The Sentra is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 149 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. That’s a big step up from the outgoing engine that only produced 124 horses. The engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission.
The Sentra performs fine especially when driving around town and commuting. However, the CVT can be slow to respond when you need quick acceleration for merging and passing at freeway speeds, and the engine gets loud when you try to accelerate quickly. The ride quality is generally good, although you will notice rougher roads and big potholes. The Sentra corners well with little body roll.
Fuel efficiency is about average for a compact car. EPA ratings for my tester are 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway with a combined rating of 32. I got 32 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior is pleasant and attractive with upgraded materials with more soft-touch surfaces and fewer hard plastics. Front row seats are spacious, and the back row has enough legroom for adults. However, headroom is tight in both rows so this isn’t the car for taller folks.
Standard features include rearview camera, cloth upholstery, six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, four-way manually adjustable passenger seat, infotainment system with seven-inch touchscreen, four-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, voice recognition and two USB ports.
Available features include proximity keyless entry, remote start, upgraded cloth upholstery, synthetic leather upholstery, quilted leather upholstery, seven-inch digital instrument cluster display, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a heated steering wheel, leather-wrapped shift knob, eight-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio system, eight-speaker Bose premium audio system, satellite radio, an additional USB port, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, NissanConnect services, auto-dimming rear view mirror and a moonroof.
Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, forward and reverse automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights, rear-seat reminder, and driver attention monitoring.
Available driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, and surround-view parking camera system.
The infotainment system is a mixed bag. The touchscreen is easy to see and reach thanks to its elevated spot on the dash but the system can be slow to respond to touch and voice commands. Graphics are sharp but look a little dated. There are buttons for volume, tuning and adjusting temperature. Navigation is not available, which is fine since a growing number of us use phones for that.
The Sentra has a slightly smaller trunk than average for a compact car with 14.3 cubic feet of space. The rear seats split fold 60/40 but don’t fold totally flat.
- Handsome exterior
- Comfortable ride
- Pleasant cabin
- Many standard and available features
- Lots of standard driver assistance technologies
- Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available
- More power needed for passing and merging at freeway speeds
- Engine is loud when pressed
- Headroom is tight, especially in the back seats
- Infotainment system can be slow
My tester starts at $21,430. The Premium Package is $2,170 and adds LED headlights, power sliding glass moonroof with tilt feature, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, leatherette seats, six-way power driver’s seat with two-way power lumbar, eight-speaker Bose premium audio system, Intelligent Around View Monitor, auto-dimming rearview mirror and sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors. The Lighting Package is $500 and includes external ground lighting and interior ambient lighting. Two-tone paint is $250. Carpeted floor mats with trunk mat are $205. Destination charge is $925 bringing the grand total to $25,480.
The redesigned 2020 Nissan Sentra is much better than its older siblings with its updated exterior and interior, more power and lots of standard and available features. It’s also a good value so it’s worth a look if you’re shopping for a compact car. The Sentra is still not going to rank near the top of this competitive class, but at least now it’s a decently equipped and reasonably priced option.