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