The latest edition of the Nissan Sentra is totally new from the ground up in a concerted effort to keep pace with the class-leading Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra.

The latest edition of the Nissan Sentra is totally new from the ground up in a concerted effort to keep pace with the class-leading Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra.

2020 Nissan Sentra

Instead of turning its back on small sedans, Nissan turns up the style

Although buyers are hungry for utility vehicles, Nissan hasn’t neglected its small and midsize four-door car models, including the Sentra.

First introduced for the 1991 model year, the Sentra has been a bright spot on Nissan’s sales ledger: More than six million of the compact sedans have been sold worldwide. The latest edition that’s now on sale, is totally new from the ground up in a concerted effort to keep pace with the class-leading Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra.

Compared with the previous Sentra’s bodywork, there really is no comparison. The design is leaner and more stylish, with an enlarged signature V-shaped grille, more prominent hood and fender creases and a tapered “floating” roofline that elegantly blends into the trunk.

Although only slightly longer and with more space between the front and rear wheels, the Sentra’s width has increased by about five centimetres and the roof has been lowered by about the same. Combined with the new bodywork, the effect is a more substantial and sportier-looking sedan with a lower centre of gravity. The new Sentra could pass for its midsize Altima sibling.

The Sentra is slightly longer than before and it’s also five centimetres wider. The roofline is lower, which also lowers the centre of gravity. PHOTO: NISSAN

The Sentra is slightly longer than before and it’s also five centimetres wider. The roofline is lower, which also lowers the centre of gravity. PHOTO: NISSAN

The Sentra’s interior is as fresh as the exterior, with a flat-bottom steering wheel, seven- or eight-inch touch-screens (depending on the trim) and a 4.2-inch display between the speedometer and tachometer. There are also Zero Gravity posture-assist front seats that the automaker has installed in many of its other vehicles. They are designed to provide more back support, which helps reduce fatigue on long trips. From experience, they are effective.

Nissan has also added more sound deadening and improved the door and window seals.

The biggest complaint about the previous-gen Sentra was a lack of any kind of get-up-and-go, an issue that has been rectified for 2020. A 2.0-litre four-cylinder, which makes 149 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque, replaces the 1.8-litre four-cylinder (124 h.p. and 125 pound-feet).

The engine is linked to a six-speed manual transmission (base model only) or a continuously variable unit (CVT) with built-in steps that simulate the driving characteristics of a conventional automatic.

Fuel economy for the CVT-equipped Sentra is 8.0 city/6.0 highway and 7.1 combined (9.4/6.4/8.0 with the manual gearbox).

Most automakers have upped their interior games, which is the case with the new Sentra. Along with modern displays and connectivity, there’s a flat-bottom steering wheel and Zero Gravity seats. PHOTO: NISSAN

Most automakers have upped their interior games, which is the case with the new Sentra. Along with modern displays and connectivity, there’s a flat-bottom steering wheel and Zero Gravity seats. PHOTO: NISSAN

Underpinning it all is a new platform that Nissan says is more rigid than before. The previous torsion-beam rear suspension has also been replaced by a multi-link independent setup to improve the ride and driving characteristics, especially during cornering.

Pricing begins at $20,500 for the base S trim, which includes Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 grouping that bundles technology such as blind-spot warning and forward and reverse emergency braking. The only omission to that collection is Intelligent Cruise control, which maintains a set distance from the vehicle in front.

The mid-grade SV gets that along with dual-zone climate control, upgraded cloth interior and 16-inch alloy wheels. Wheel covers and steel wheels are standard. Other SV content includes heated front seats and outside mirrors, plus an Around View monitor that gives the driver a 360-degree view of his or her surroundings.

At the top end, the SR gets LED headlights, running lights and fog lights, as well as a darkened grille and outside mirrors, a rear spoiler, extra body garnish and 18-inch wheels. Leather-covered seats are optional for the SR.

It appears that Nissan has gone to great lengths to create a competent compact sedan that’s head and shoulders above its predecessor. Will that be enough to meet or upstage the top competitors in its class? Or the small utility vehicles that buyers seem to want? Those would be lofty goals, but taken on its own, the new Sentra leaves little on the table.

The 2020 Sentra’s design is leaner and more stylish, including fender creases and a tapered “floating” roofline that elegantly blends into the trunk.

The 2020 Sentra’s design is leaner and more stylish, including fender creases and a tapered “floating” roofline that elegantly blends into the trunk.

What you should know: 2020 Nissan Sentra

Type: Four-door, front-wheel-drive compact sedan

Engine (h.p.): 2.0-litre DOHC I-4 (149)

Transmission: Continuously variable

Market position: With virtually every domestic-based automaker having abandoned the compact-sedan category, the market has been left to vehicles such as the Sentra and the dominant Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

Points: New sheetmetal is a drastic improvement. • Interior makeover leans on the premium side. • More powerful four-cylinder engine was long overdue. • Wide assortment of active-safety tech is standard. • Returning the NISMO model to the lineup would help create some much-needed performance cred to the brand.

Active Safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (std.); active cruise control (opt.); front and rear emergency braking (std.); inattentive-driver alert (std.); lane-departure warning (std.)

L/100 km (city/hwy): 8.0/6.0 (CVT) Base price (incl. destination): $20,500

Toyota Corolla sedan

  • Base price: $20,800
  • Redesigned car is also available in hatchback and hybrid versions.

Honda Civic sedan

  • Base price: $21,700
  • Exceptionally roomy, it can be had in sedan, coupe and hatchback body styles.

Kia Forte

  • Base price: $19,450
  • A well-priced and well-equipped small car. A 201-h.p. turbo I-4 is optional.

written by Malcolm Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

AutomotiveAutoscars

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley was passed up for a cabinet position by Premier John Horgan. (Photo submitted)
Routley left off the list of NDP cabinet ministers again

Premier Horgan opts for some newcomers in key positions over experienced MLA

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce has worked to support businesses throughout the pandemic. (File photo)
Ladysmith Chamber reflects on a challenging 2020

For small businesses looking to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 one… Continue reading

49th parallel was an early adopter of Plexiglas shields, and required staff to wear face masks. (49th Parallel photo)
49th Parallel continues to grow in spite of pandemic

The biggest challenge of the pandemic has been keeping shelves stocked at 49th Parallel stores

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
MacGregor to host expert panel for virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MP’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Langley RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the Riverside Calvary church in Langley in the 9600 block of 201 Street for holding an in-person service on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, despite a provincial COVID-19 related ban (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)
Langley church fined for holding in-person Sunday service

Calvary church was fined $2,300 for defying provincial order

A pedestrian makes their way through the snow in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Wild winter, drastic swings in store for Canada this year: Weather Network

In British Columbia and the Prairies, forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels

NDP Leader John Horgan, left, speaks as local candidate Ravi Kahlon listens during a campaign stop at Kahlon’s home in North Delta, B.C., on April 18, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
The Nanaimo Rona location. (News Bulletin photo)
Rona home improvement store in Nanaimo advises that worker has COVID-19

Store re-opened Sunday after closing for cleaning Saturday

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Most Read