One-Day Drive

First Drive Review: 2020 Nissan Sentra is a compelling combination of interior refinement, tech

Nissan has redesigned the Sentra for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2020 Nissan Sentra is all new with a sportier design, upgraded interior, and new standard safety technologies. It also has a more powerful engine that helps make this compact sedan fun to drive. Together, these features offer a compelling combination designed to entice sedan buyers.

Despite decreased interest in sedans, the Sentra is Nissan's best-selling model in the United States with over six million deliveries since its debut back in 1982. It is available in a range of three trims with just two options packages and sits between the smaller, more affordable Nissan Versa and the larger, more well-equipped Nissan Altima.

2020 Nissan Sentra exterior body wheels The new Sentra has many of Nissan's signature design attributes.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

New sportier exterior styling includes a bold stance that's two inches lower and two inches wider than the previous generation. Nissan's signature V-motion grille dominates the front of the Sentra with thin LED headlamps and a floating roof. The Sentra SR offers an especially aggressive look with black and dark chrome accents, sport-style rear spoiler, and chrome exhaust finisher.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 149 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission. That's 20 percent more horsepower and 17 percent more torque than before and it makes a big difference in how the Sentra drives.

It easily merges into highway traffic and delivers ample power for passing slower moving vehicles. The transmission is smooth and quiet, even under hard acceleration, making the ride more pleasant for everyone. The Sentra provides a responsive drive experience not often found in affordable sedans.

2020 Nissan Sentra exterior face grille The car provides a pleasant behind-the-wheel experience.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Inside, styling is refined with higher quality materials. It looks and feels good creating a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere. Details like contrast stitching and a D-shaped steering wheel reinforce the Sentra's sporty new demeanor.

There's room for five passengers with Nissan's Zero Gravity seats up front. These provide support without being stiff and stay comfortable even through longer road trips. The rear seats accommodate three passengers, but it's a tight fit. Taller adults will feel a bit cramped with low headroom. Push the front seats back and rear legroom is also compromised.

The base infotainment system in the Sentra is somewhat limited and includes a 7-inch touch screen with Bluetooth and Siri Eyes Free. Smartphone connectivity through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is only available on the SV and SR trim. These trims also see the addition of an 8-inch multi-touch display and NissanConnect. While the system is intuitive and quick to learn, the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the base model will disappoint buyers on a budget.

2020 Nissan Sentra interior seats wheel shifter radio Inside, the Sentra is a refined auto for its price point.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan offers a comprehensive suite of safety features through Nissan Safety Shield 360. It includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and rear automatic braking.

Rear door alert is also standard. This feature reminds drivers to check the rear seats so nothing is accidentally left in the car. There's also intelligent driver alertness, which detects driving patterns that indicate a tired drive and issues a warning to take a break.

2020 Nissan Sentra interior seats Zero Gravity seats keep the driver and front passenger comfortable on long trips.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Sentra offer a good mix of features along with a pleasant drive experience. It targets value-minded buyers with affordable pricing while still incorporating advanced safety and technology. The base S is priced from $19,090 while the top SR comes in with pricing of $21,430. The Premium Package ups SV pricing to $22,730 and SR pricing to $23,600. Those looking for an affordable, comfortable, and well-equipped sedan can find the 2020 Nissan Sentra in local dealerships in late January.

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The new Civic Hatchback just went on sale.

Honda

The Honda Civic is one of the most popular and well-known cars of any type. Honda keeps refining the Civic formula to the point that it seems hard for the car to get any better, but that's what we're here to talk about. The 2022 model year sees the Civic enter its eleventh generation, and updates for the new model year make the car more upscale, more refined, and safer than ever before. Honda released the Civic Sedan first, but the Hatchback is now on the streets. Both cars are excellent, but we want to take a closer look at the 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback. Here are three things to know about the car.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback The Civic Hatchback is almost as practical as a small SUV, and it's way more fun to drive. Honda

Cargo Space

Looking at the Civic Hatchback, or any modern Civic for that matter, it's easy to start believing that there's nothing to it - that you can't use it as a proper family car. That isn't the case here, nor is it the case with the 2022 Civic Sedan. The Hatchback starts with 24.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row seats, and the rear bench folds flat to open up even more room for gear. That's shy of a compact crossover, but better than many subcompact crossovers - and the Civic is infinitely more fun to drive than either. The Honda CR-V, for example, offers 37.6 cubic feet of space behind the second-row seats, but the subcompact HR-V offers just 23.2 cubic feet of space. I know which vehicle I'd rather drive, and it's the Civic Hatchback by miles and miles.


2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Clever design elevates the Civic above its competition.Honda

Refinement and Design

Honda's redesign of the Civic started with the Sedan, which released first. Its interior carries premium feeling materials and a grown-up design that is at odds with the Civic's reasonable price tag. There are several clever design touches like a singular metal grille that runs the length of the dash. The front air vents are concealed behind it and feature thoughtfully designed control knobs. It's a detail that isn't seen in other cars at this price point, and it's one that elevates the Civic from a budget car to one that feels special.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback All Civics come packed with safety tech.Honda

Safety Features and Crash Test Scores

The Honda Civic Sedan and Hatchback both earned Top Safety Pick + awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Vehicles earn the honor by scoring "Good," "Advanced," or "Superior" in all categories, including headlights. On top of that, Honda equips the cars with plenty of advanced driver aids, including forward collision warnings, lane departure warnings, collision mitigation braking, and road departure mitigation. Blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control are available in higher trims.

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Electric vehicles

NHTSA looking into Tesla's in-car video games

Some owners have discovered that their car's video games work when the car is moving.

Tesla

Tesla's vehicles are among the most advanced and forward-thinking products of any kind, but serious innovation doesn't come with tradeoffs. The automaker has been in the news recently because of issues with how its advanced cruise control systems function, and now, Autoblog reports that the NHTSA is asking questions about Tesla giving drivers the ability to play video games and browse the internet while driving.

Tesla Arcade hands-on: the Model 3 is your video game console youtu.be

The feature is intended to be used while the car is parked, such as while charging, so the discovery that people can use them while driving is a serious one. Vince Patton, the person who filed the complaint with the NHTSA, tested his car and found that he could play Solitaire and a fairly involved action game while it was in motion. Internet browsing was also possible, meaning the driver could take their attention completely off the road ahead for extended periods of time.

Tesla Model 3 Tesla's screens offer advanced functions that many others do not. Tesla

Tesla was already under investigation over crashes involving its Autopilot feature. Several collisions have occurred between Teslas and emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. Following the initiation of that investigation, the NHTSA raised other questions with the automaker over a buggy software update that was pushed out, retracted, fixed, and reissued outside of the normal recall process. Despite their names, it's important to clarify that neither the Autopilot nor Full Self-Driving features are capable of driving the cars without driver awareness and input.

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