2020 Nissan Sentra Pros and Cons Review: Competitive Again, It Aims at Honda’s Civic

2020-nissan-sentra-pros-and-cons-review:-competitive-again,-it-aims-at-honda’s-civic

Pro

  • Surprising style
  • Standard safety tech
  • Features per dollar

Con

  • Average fuel economy
  • Poor retained value
  • Lumpy CVT tuning

Nissan has done it. After years of wallowing in econobox mediocrity, the compact Sentra sedan matters again. Even without the head-turning two-tone paint of our test car, this Nissan can compete head-on with the Toyota Corolla and almost every other car in the segment.

View Other 2021 Car Of The Year Contenders And Finalists Here

True, this isn’t a comparison test, but judges found it impossible not to consider the new-for-2020 Nissan Sentra against an aging but still excellent class leader, the Civic.

“The Honda Civic looms large,” senior features editor Jonny Lieberman said, “and in terms of engineering excellence, I don’t think the Sentra has that bogey beat.”

Still, what an improvement. Like the Civic (which is nearing the end of its current lifespan and is on the cusp of a redesign), the Sentra feels spacious and well-designed. Associate road test editor Erick Ayapana said our $26,055 test car “looks more expensive than it is inside and out,” and editor-in-chief Mark Rechtin admitted to looking in his rearview mirror at the Sentra and mistaking it for a new Audi design language.

Outstanding features-per-dollar value makes the Sentra especially compelling. A full package of safety and convenience gear is standard on every Sentra, including automated emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert with braking (if you risk reversing from a parking spot into a moving car), and blind-spot monitoring. In the mid-level SV trim, the Sentra offers a ton of features for just over $21,000, including hands-free keyless access, 16-inch alloy wheels, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen at the top of the dash with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Against the popular Corolla, the Sentra has another advantage: one standard engine across the lineup. A couple judges found the Nissan’s 149-hp 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine a little coarse, but the powerplant delivers satisfactory acceleration that’s far quicker than the 1.8-liter standard engine on the Corolla. We’re focusing more on the Corolla than the Civic because, well, the Sentra can’t compete with the Civic’s more engaging driving dynamics. Even so, the Sentra has solid performance for drivers simply looking for a stylish appliance.

“It just seems like an honest car, no pretension,” testing director Kim Reynolds said. “Its bones are good, and it moves in a pleasant way, rarely wrong-footed.”

With decent tech, abundant features, and solid design, the Sentra’s biggest issue is its continuously variable transmission. Don’t tell anyone, but a couple MotorTrend editors actually like CVTs for the everyday commuting smoothness they provide, and we’ve lauded Honda’s more recent CVTs. In the Nissan’s case, however, it’s a weakness.

“The CVT continues to wander under hard acceleration, surging and forcing pretend ‘shift’ points,” Rechtin said. “It just sounds like you’re losing power.”

A few Sentra drivers might also notice the way the transmission tends to simulate unwanted shifts when coming to a stop. But hey, at least they’ll experience that from comfortable seats—now a trait we expect from Nissans. Loaded Sentra SRs get a 360-degree camera system with a convenient camera button just below the screen, making it easy to quickly switch it on when you’re trying to execute that parking job just right. An SV-specific Premium package adds diamond-quilted leather seats. Yes, on a compact sedan.



















The Sentra’s attempted pivot from “I need a car” to “I want that car” is only partially successful. Minor interior complaints: The cupholders have trouble keeping taller bottles in place, and the available power seats offer only six ways of adjustment (off the class standard of eight). Budget-conscious shoppers should be aware of IntelliChoice data showing that over the course of five years, the Sentra will retain far less of its value than a Civic or Corolla will. Plus, the Sentra offers merely average fuel economy and driving range.

Despite these minuses, this Sentra joins the Rogue and Kicks in forming a strong foundation of compelling affordable vehicles that the automaker can build on.

POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS 2020 Nissan Sentra SR
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD
ENGINE TYPE I-4, alum block/head
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 121.9 cu in/1,997 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 10.6:1
POWER (SAE NET) 149 hp @ 6,400 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 146 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
REDLINE 6,500 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 21.0 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 5.10:1/1.93:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 15.3:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.5
BRAKES, F; R 11.0-in vented disc; 10.2-in disc, ABS
WHEELS, F;R 7.5 x 18-in cast aluminum
TIRES, F;R 215/45R18 89V Hankook Kinergy GT (M S)
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 106.8 in
TRACK, F/R 62.4/62.4 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.7 x 71.5 x 57.0 in
TURNING CIRCLE 38.1 ft
CURB WEIGHT 3,122 lb
WEIGHT DIST, F/R 61/39%
SEATING CAPACITY 5
HEADROOM, F/R 37.5/36.7 in
LEGROOM, F/R 44.0/37.4 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 56.4/54.5 in
CARGO VOLUME 14.3 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 3.3 sec
0-40 4.8
0-50 6.6
0-60 8.8
0-70 11.6
0-80 15.2
0-90 19.5
0-100  —
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 4.5
QUARTER MILE 16.8 sec @ 84.1 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 121 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.85 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.5 sec @ 0.61 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 2,250 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE $22,575
PRICE AS TESTED $26,055
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes
AIRBAGS 10: Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain, front knee
BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 3 yrs/36,000 miles
FUEL/BATTERY CAPACITY 12.4 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 28/37/32 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 120/91 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.62 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular

The post 2020 Nissan Sentra Pros and Cons Review: Competitive Again, It Aims at Honda’s Civic appeared first on MotorTrend.

Times2 Desk
Latest News Headlines: Times2 covers Latest India News, Top Today's Breaking News on Business, India, World, Politics, Entertainment and Sports …