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

(Ty Hainsworth / Facebook)
No injuries after fire rips through Saran Fruit Market near Oliver

A fruit stand caught fire Tuesday afternoon

Masks are now officially mandatory in all City of Campbell River facilities. (Black Press File Photo)
Interior Health reports 49 new COVID-19 cases overnight

302 cases remain active; two in hospital

Trixie, an Elf on a Shelf like the one pictured here, will hiding around Osoyoos' parks in December. (Contributed)
Can you find Trixie the Elf in Osoyoos?

The elf has left the shelf to hide in the parks around town

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Garage in Kelowna burns to the ground, blaze deemed suspicious

Fire crews responded to the scene just after 4:30 p.m.

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Damien Smith, with father Thomas Smith, is “frozen” with joy as he watches a special message Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds recorded for Damien’s 9th birthday on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Contributed)
Shuswap boy celebrates 9th birthday with family, community and Ryan Reynolds

People from around the world send birthday cards showing young Canoe resident he’s not alone

A major reconstruction project on 32nd Avenue is nearing completion and the road is now re-opened to traffic between 33rd Street and 35th Street. (City of Vernon photo)
ROAD REPORT: More roundabouts coming to North Okanagan

New intersection lights up Dec. 13, 30th Street paving delayed, PV Road completed in Vernon

In this handout photo provided by the Philippine Red Cross, families stay at a temporary evacuation center at Catanduanes province, eastern Philippines, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, as Typhoon Goni hits the country. Families living near coastal towns have moved to evacuation centers as the strong typhoon makes landfall. (Philippine Red Cross via AP)
Okanagan community group organizes fundraiser for typhoon-hit Philippines

Over two million people have been affected by flooding, with about 500,000 forced to leave homes

O’Rourkes Peak Cellars is located in Lake Country, B.C. (Contributed)
Lake Country winery temporarily closes due to possible COVID-19 exposure

The establishment plans to reopen on Dec. 4 after a deep clean

Most Read