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 Sentra The 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 Sentra The 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 Sentra Apple 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 Sentra The 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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New luxury car

BMW sends its V12 engine off in style

BMW will build its final V12 engine this June.

BMW

Most automakers are focused on building EVs and extracting the best fuel economy from gas engines possible, so it’s not surprising to hear that BMW is pulling the plug on one of its biggest and most iconic engines. In June 2022, BMW will build its very last V12 engine for use in a super-limited-production special edition 7 Series model. The ultra-rare cars will carry a starting price of $200,995.

BMW 760i xDrive The last V12 will power a very special (and very expensive) 7 Series car.BMW

Only twelve lucky customers will have the option to nab a V12-powered BMW, which will be called the M760i xDrive. Displacing 6.6 liters, the twin-turbocharged beast produces a massive 601 horsepower. An eight-speed sport automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard. BMW says the powertrain is strong enough to push the hefty 7 Series car to 60 mph from a standstill in just 3.6 seconds.

The final-run cars will feature little more than a special “V12” badge at the rear to differentiate them from standard 7 Series models. Inside, the car features a serialized plaque with the car’s production number out of the 12 units planned. The engine itself features a nameplate with “The Final V12.”

Beyond the badges, BMW’s 12-cylinder last-hurrah will come standard with 20-inch M double-spoke wheels, a choice of any available BMW full Merino leather color, M Sport brakes with black or blue calipers, a panoramic LED roof, remote control parking, a Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound system, and adaptive LED headlights.

BMW 760i xDrive Only 12 of the cars will be built, with a starting price of more than $200,000.BMW

Though it hasn’t been BMW’s most popular engine over the years, the V12 has been a part of the automaker’s catalog for 35 years. The first 12-cylinder engine showed up in 1987, producing 295 horsepower in the original 750iL sedan.

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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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