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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The Nissan GT-R probably isn't the first supercar that comes to mind, but it's worthy of consideration if you're not all about being seen.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

You put the pedal down. A confident growl busts out the back end. The wheels may squeal, and you might too. It's not all about the power, though it has plenty. The 2021 Nissan GT-R delivers the type of drive experience that you're never going to get from an electric vehicle - and it's magnificent.

Godzilla has been in production since 2007 with nips and tucks and add-ons here and there along the way. It's not as sleek or stylish as the Audi E-Tron GT or even Audi's R8. There's no giant wing out back à la McLaren and certainly nothing Italian about it. The GT-R is it's own man.

Even areas of the country that are supercar-heavy, aren't heavy with GT-Rs. A Ferrari or Lamborghini is a bigger status symbol for adoring eyes. It's the real drivers out there who know that a GT-R is perhaps the better investment for someone who wants a supercar to drive, not just to be seen in. Its unique looks are subtle but properly athletic.

2021 Nissan GT-R Premium The car is capable as a daily driver but it can also push the limits during a track day.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

2021 Nissan GT-R Premium

The reason for that starts but doesn't end with Nissan's 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6. It rests below the hood, not behind your ears, and delivers 565 horsepower and 467 pound-feet of torque creating a visceral acceleration experience. It's enough to satisfy you, bring a smile to your face, impress those around you, and make you realize that Godzilla really is a beast.

The six-speed dual-clutch transmission in the GT-R Premium ($113,540 base price) manages the power nicely and shifts relatively smoothly - it's no Ford 10-speed automatic and that's okay. If you want a GT-R with a manual transmission, you'll have to upgrade to the NISMO model. Don't "save the manuals" me. So few people are buying them that they're becoming extinct despite your bumper sticker saying and hashtag. Most supercars don't have them. Nissan is just simply following an industry trend and the DCT is perfectly fine for drivers not spending the majority of their time on a track.

All wheel drive is standard on the model, meaning that the GT-R sticks to the road as you put it through its paces. That also means that you don't need to head home every time there's rainfall or snow in the forecast, and you can take corners a little faster than the local constabulary may prefer.

The car has athletic looks despite not conforming to the typical supercar design language.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

2021 Nissan GT-R Premium

Proper engineering has made the GT-R a great daily driver. It's fun to push it around the twisties on a winding road in the country during a long weekend, but it's also not a bad car to commute or run errands in (it has a real trunk!). Like any good supercar, the GT-R goes right where you want, when you want it, whether you're doing slow speed maneuvering around a neighborhood or putting the throttle down on the highway. The speed-sensitive steering calibration is spot-on.

Parts of the interior are dated, especially when compared to other vehicles in its price point. But none of those parts are enough to make the GT-R even the least bit undesirable. The seats are surprisingly comfortable and the ride isn't too harsh. Analog dials are a nice break for the eyes.

But the real reason you're in the GT-R isn't because of the the amenities. It's because you love to drive. Because you're confident enough to go with Godzilla rather than a flashy Italian or German. Because you understand that the car nicknamed after a fictional monster, and its gasoline-powered ilk, are in danger of going extinct as carbon neutral priorities seem keen on removing the type of visceral fun that internal combustion engines provide.

The car has analog dials in front of the driver.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If we're going to have to make concessions to make the air and water cleaner, it would be nice if, on the other end of the spectrum, the powers that be let us keep having the muscle of the GT-R.

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The Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo brings an adventurous spirit to the table.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

Imagine a Porsche 911 with a long, wagon-like back end and you end up with something like the Porsche Panamera. Make the 911 a Taycan, Porsche's fully-electric sports sedan, give it a wagon-like back end and increased ground clearance, and you have the 2022 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo.

Porsche says that the new model "draws on the strengths of its sport sedan sibling" giving buyers an idea of what to expect - a performance-focused driving style, sure-footedness, and a refined interior. The increased ground clearance via a standard air suspension and added cargo capacity make the Taycan Cross Turismo more adventure-ready.

The fresh body style give rear seat occupants 0.35 inches more legroom and 3.62 inches more headroom. With the rear seats folded, there's 42.8 cubic feet of cargo space, about 10 cubic feet less than what's in the 2021 Porsche Macan. With the seats erect, the differential is in the Macan's favor by just under two cubic feet (15.7 vs. 17.6). The Taycan Cross Turismo has 2.9 cubic feet of cargo space in the front, something the Macan doesn't have (because that's where its engine is).

2022 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

Roof rails are standard. A roof transport system and rear-mounted bike rack are available via Telequipment. The Off Road Design Package adds additional body cladding and raises the ride height an additional 10 millimeters (0.39 inches).

The boutique automaker will launch the model in four grades: Taycan 4 Cross Turismo, Taycan 4S Cross Turismo, Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo, and Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo. All models will features dual-motor all-wheel drive, a two-speed rear transmission, Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management in conjunction with air suspension, Performance Battery Plus and its 800-volt battery architecture, adaptive aerodynamics, a panoramic glass roof.

The Taycan Cross Turismo will come standard with a Gravel drive model, meant for driving situations that need more traction than most. But, in no way should the car be considered anything more than dirt-path ready. The car is quipped with more cladding than the traditional Taycan in order to prevent paint chips and body damage.

Porsche says that Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo can accelerate from a stop to 60 miles per hour in 2.7 seconds while the Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo can make the sprint to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds. The Taycan 4S Cross Turismo and Taycan 4 Cross Turismo can get to 60 mph in 3.9 and 4.8 seconds respectively.

Three years of free Electrify America charging is also included with every model.

Buyers will be able to order theres in a number of color ways, interior schemes, and Cross Turismo specific items such as the Off Road Design Package and 20-inch Off Road Design or 21-inch Cross Turismo Design wheels. There are 21,000 total combinations based solely on variant, wheel choice, exterior color, and interior selection.

Porsche's PCM infotainment and navigation system are standard. Wireless Apple CarPlay, Function on Demand, Plug and Charge capabilities, Apple Music, over-the-air updates for three years. Bose and Burmester audio systems and 14-way power-adjustable seats with massage functionality are available.

Adaptive cruise control, park assist, a head-up display, and lane keep assist will also be available.

The Taycan Cross Turismo models start at $90,900, not including the $1,350 destination charge. The Taycan Cross Turismo is expected to arrive at U.S. dealerships in summer 2021. EPA range figures will be announced closer to market launch.

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