2020 Nissan Sentra Review: More Class, Less Brash

We had the opportunity to test out the 2020 Nissan Sentra in California. [Photo: TFLcar]

Is the 2020 Nissan Sentra too smooth?

Nissan has sold over 6-million Sentras since the early 1980s. In that time, they have maintained a simple formula: keep it simple, economical and fun. While the new 2020 Nissan Sentra is affordable (base MSRP is $19,090) it ditched its fun personality for one that’s sober.

It seems to me that Nissan wanted this Sentra to be a smoother, more sophisticated ride over the competition. From what I experienced, the 2020 Nissan Sentra felt a LOT like a Nissan Altima – which is (mostly) a good thing. The multilink rear suspension, chassis tuning and quite interior all contributed to a comfy, smooth ride.

Sitting on the PCH – the 2020 Nissan Sentra looks good in blue. [Photo:TFLcar]

During out brief drive, Nissan sent us around the hills and highways of Southern California. They also housed us in a luxury hotel and fed us dinner at a multimillion-dollar mansion overlooking Beverly Hills. While is is nice to be pampered, it didn’t make sense to me at first. I mean, this is a SENTRA, it needs a rockin’ burger joint and a youth (not too aspirational) oriented drive.

Then, pushing through Malibu, the whole idea of what Nissan PR were aiming for made sense. This thing was smooth. Perhaps one of the smoothest vehicles in its class. Despite pounding through challenging corners in the hills and being driven rough by an ape – I felt no fatigue. I was comfortable, and felt pretty confident while driving.

This is a totally different Sentra

[Photo: Nissan]


I have yet to see the entry level models. Only the SV (pictured) and the SR were available for testing. Both of those vehicles came with the “Premium” package.

That means multiple layers of high quality skins, plastics and “Zero-gravity” seats. It’s a very nice place to be, especially the tan confines of the SV. Seating comfort is quite good and I am able to sit behind myself without a problem.

All-in-all, the SV I tested had one of the best interiors in its class. It even rivaled the Mazda3, which is one of my favorites.


There is an all-new (for the Sentra) 2.0-liter engine that makes 149 horsepower and 146 lbs-feet of torque. That’s a 20-percent increase over the old 1.8-liter. The only transmission currently available is an Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Fuel economy is rated at 29 mpg city, 39 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined for the S and SV. The SR gets 28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined. Those numbers are competitive with less powerful vehicles in this class.


Nissan did a bang-up job making the new Sentra a more sophisticated ride. They even updated the steering rack to give it a much more confident steering feel. It does,. While it’s softly sprung, it grips nicely through the corners and it has fantastic steering weight.

Unfortunately, even in “Sport” mode, it’s not very fast. The CVT is very smooth and much quieter than older ones. Passing and launch power are okay, just about on par with the equivalent Toyota Corolla with a CVT. That is to say – not exciting.

The idea of an SE-R or Nismo model with a manual transmission would be epic – but I sincerely doubt it. Nissan needs this car to be a relaxing, confident commuter and not a car an ape like me prefers. I get it, they need a good return on their investment and sporty cars in this class (with fun transmissions) simply do not sell.


Nissan Safety Shield 360 is a comprehensive, standard safety package that covers every new Sentra. “Safety Shield 360 includes Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and Rear Automatic Braking. In addition, Sentra’s list of standard safety and security features include the Nissan Advanced Air Bag System with dual-stage supplemental front air bags with seat belt and occupant classification sensors; roof-mounted curtain side impact supplemental air bags with rollover sensor for front and rear-seat outboard occupant head protection; driver and front passenger seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags; rear passenger seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags; and driver and front passenger knee supplemental air bags.” – – Nissan


If it weren’t for the Altima and Maxima looking a lot like the Sentra, I would like the styling even more. As it is, Nissan kept what they knew was popular – a “floating” roof design, deep curves, and a longer-lower-wider swagger. The all-new 2020 Nissan Sentra has a 2.4-inch wider track and 2.2-inch lower overall height. I think it’s attractive – when it’s not next to an Altima or Maxima.


The base model 2020 Nissan Sentra S has a base MSRP of $19,090. Bump up to the sweet interior if the SV and the base price is $20,270. Finally, if you want a sportier (looking) Sentra, the SR starts at $21,430. There is a $925 destination and handling fee as well.

The 2020 Nissan Sentra goes on sale during the first quarter of 2020.

What's New With The 2020 Nissan Sentra? We Find Out!

The 2020 Nissan Sentra sports new styling and more tech than the previous generation, along with a modest price bump. Nathan takes a closer look at the new Sentra's styling and features from sunny Malibu, California.

Posted by The Fast Lane Car on Friday, December 13, 2019