Behind the Wheel

2020 Nissan Sentra Review: It's easy to not expect much, but the Sentra impresses

The Nissan Sentra was completely redesigned for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Nissan Motor America

It's easy to not expect too much from the Nissan Sentra. In a world of Camrys and Accords, the slightly smaller compact car market is easily brushed off as cheap. That being said, your expectations don't have to be high for the redesigned 2020 Nissan Sentra to impress you. That isn't a drinking-the-Kool Aid scenario. The Sentra punches above its weight besting many other much higher priced cars.

So, let's start at the price. The Sentra starts just under $20,000 and the highest grade starts near $22,000. That's about the same price range as the Nissan Kicks. The Sentra tops out about the same as a similarly equipped Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.

2020 Nissan SentraThe car is different from the bottom up, taking on design characteristics of the Nissan Altima, Maxima, and Versa.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

As tested, the top-tier Sentra SR comes with most of the features and appointments you'd expect of a mass market sedan. The car rides on 18-inch alloy wheels and is available in a variety of two-tone paint jobs as well as a good roster of solid colors.

The Sentra looks good. It doesn't vary too much from the Maxima, Altima, and Versa mold.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that does the job sufficiently. Its horsepower and pound-feet of torque numbers sound low (149 and 146, respectively), but the car is a capable commuter. The engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission that won't bother most drivers with its capabilities. It's fairly fuel efficient too, getting 32-33 mpg combined depending on the Sentra trim level.

On top of that it's comfortable to sit in and easy to drive. Don't expect sporty Volkswagen GTI-level engagement or enough headroom for your 6'5" best friend in the rear seat (it is a compact car, after all) and you won't be disappointed.

2020 Nissan SentraThe materials on the interior of the car are fitting of its price point.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan does not sell the model with all-wheel drive.

Where Sentra wins big points is its interior. The car is the right mix of appointments for its price point, as tested, and even better than the cabin in the Subaru Impreza, Civic, and Volkswagen Jetta. Its 8-inch infotainment screen is easier to see and operate than that in the Mazda Mazda3's.

Though some may knock it, the Sentra's climate controls allow users to set the temperature the control the fan speed separately. This setup is common in many luxury cars. Most users would probably rather set it and forget it rather than deal with the two controls, but there's nothing particularly cumbersome about the design.

Though the infotainment system doesn't have the most intuitive functionality, most Sentras come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, making it easy on users to just plug and play.

2020 Nissan SentraApple CarPlay and Android Auto are the answer to the woes of the Nissan infotainment system.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The interior of the model is outfitted in standard charcoal cloth upholstery. Charcoal leatherette upholstery is available for a $2,170 upcharge as part of the Premium Package. Other elements of the package include surround view monitor, LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, moonroof with tilt feature, sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel.

Like most new Nissans, it comes with the company's standard suite of six safety and driver assist features (high beam assist, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, rear automatic braking, and forward automatic braking with pedestrian detection).

That puts you all in for around $25,000. That's not bad. And, it's a much better car than the base Altima (though it has a smaller back seat and trunk), which hovers around the same price point.

Where the real comparison lies is with the crossover market, which is flush with a number of models priced similarly to the Sentra. For $25,000, there's nothing in the Nissan lineup that makes as compelling an argument for your money as the Sentra. Nothing from Ford, Toyota, or Honda either. Kia and Hyundai may be closest but their SUVs are still pricier compared to the Sentra.

2020 Nissan SentraThe car comes with device charging capability, phone storage space, numerous cup holders, and push-button start. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Sentra's biggest sedan competition comes in the form of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra and 2020 Kia Forte.

It's legitimate to question if the Nissan lineup needs to have the Sentra with the Versa and Altima pulling such good duty. However, the Sentra makes a compelling case for drivers to see the lower priced offering, consider how much back seat space they truly need, and take it for a test drive.

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Updated EV

2023 Nissan Leaf pricing announced

The Leaf got a mild facelift for 2023.

Nissan

Nissan is nearing the release of the Ariya, its first new EV in several years. Even so, the brand hasn't forgotten about its first mass-market EV, the Leaf. It was an early entrant in the space, and has been an efficient, affordable, commuter car for over a decade. The car got a mild facelift for 2023, with updated wheels and exterior styling accents. Today, Nissan announced pricing for the Leaf, which starts at just under $29,000.

2023 Nissan LeafThe Leaf feels lively, despite middling power numbers.Nissan

The base Leaf comes with a 40-kWh battery capable of delivering a 149-mile range. Its 110-kW electric motor produces 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The Leaf SV Plus features a 60-kWh battery for a range of 212 miles. It comes with a 160-kW motor that makes 214 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. Nissan backs all Leaf models with an eight-year/100,000-mile battery warranty.

ProPilot Assist comes standard for the Leaf SV Plus, and brings a full suite of advanced driver aids that include adaptive cruise control, driver alertness features, and a surround-view monitor. All Leaf models get Nissan Safety Shield 360, which includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warnings, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, automatic high beams, and rear automatic braking.

2023 Nissan LeafThe Leaf SV Plus offers up to 212 miles of range.Nissan

The new Leaf starts at $28,895, which includes a $1,095 destination charge. The Leaf SV Plus starts at $36,895. The 2023 Nissan Leaf is on sale now, and may be eligible for federal tax credits of up to $7,500. Depending on where you live, you may also be able to receive a state tax credit or other incentives.

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Comfortable midsize sedan

2022 Nissan Altima: Three things to know

The Nissan Altima is a good value and a comfortable car.

Nissan

The Nissan Altima may not get the attention or the praise that the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord get, but it's a solid entry in an ultra-competitive segment. It's also one of few options in its class with available all-wheel drive. We spent a week with the 2022 Nissan Altima SR Midnight Edition with AWD and came away from the experience impressed. Here are three things to know about the car.

The 2022 Nissan Altima is a Good Value

With a starting price in the mid-$20,000 range and available all-wheel drive, it's hard to complain about value here. The Altima is still reasonably priced at the top end, where it maxes out at around $35,000 before options and fees. That's a great value for a spacious, comfortable car like the Altima, and with all-wheel drive it's a great all-weather commuter.

2022 Nissan AltimaNissan offers the Altima in several configurations.Nissan

2022 Altima Interior Space and Comfort are Generous

It's easy to ignore Nissan's Zero Gravity seats as another marketing buzzword, but they are legitimately comfortable and supportive in a way that not many others are. Available leather upholstery and contrast stitching give the interior an upscale feel, but even lower trims' cloth upholstery feels nice and works well from a visual standpoint. Up front, there's room for both passengers to stretch out, and the driver won't feel cramped on leg or headroom. Back-seat passengers get a similar treatment, as there's plenty of space for adults and kids. Parents will find an easy time loading and unloading car seats as well.

2023 Nissan AltimaThe Altima gets an update for 2023 with fresh styling and more tech.Nissan

The 2023 Nissan Altima Gets an Update

Nissan is refreshing the Altima for 2023 with a facelift, new tech, and better safety features. The new car will go on sale in the fall of 2022 and will come in several trims, including one with Nissan's truck VC-Turbo engine. The Altima's most noticeable update will be its front fascia, which is all-new for 2023. Nissan gives the car a fresh grille design that varies depending on the trim, and LED headlights will be standard. Nissan Safety Shield 360 is standard, and the Altima is available with all-wheel drive, ProPilot Assist, and more.

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