2020 Nissan Sentra Gets New Design, More Power & Safety Features

by Tom Crosby

Sentra is Nissan’s all-time bestseller, notching six million sales since 1982, and for 2020 the mid-size Sedan enters its eighth generation with a new design, more powerful engine, and more safe driving features.

2020 NISSAN SENTRA 2.0 SR CVT Review

Improvements include 24 more horses shaving nearly a second in timing 0 to 60 mph, a stiffer suspension system, eye-catching design, quieter and larger cabin plus new safety features and connectivity.

Nissan has indicated there will be few if any, changes for 2021.

Our 2020 test-drive was top trim SR above S and SV with a $2,170 Premium package including numerous comfort features plus upgraded 8-speaker Bose audio and a surround camera monitor for parking. Three lesser options totaled $1,300 for Super Black/Aspen White two-tone paint, floor mats and ground/interior lighting.

A theft-deterrent auto-lock occurs when you turn off the engine and walk away with the untouched key in your pocket or purse.

A rear-seat alert pops up on the 7-inch digital display saying check the back seat before exiting. And Intelligent Driver Alert kicks in above 37 mph if the system discerns erratic driver behavior. It asks the driver to rest.

All Sentras get Nissan Safety Shield 360, its impressive suite of six cutting edge driver assistance features. Missing is lane-centering correction but there is a lane departure warning.

Emergency front and rear braking are standard, helping Sentra’s earn top crash safety ratings.

The profile is attractive with the sleek, sporty shape, lower roofline, sharp character creases, a rear spoiler, black side mirrors, moonroof, new wheel design, and Nissan’s signature V-shaped grille.

With a low center of gravity and instant rack-and-pinion steering responsive, handling is nimble and the continuous variable transmission interacts well with Sentra’s new 2.0-liter engine. While not quick off the line, it is perfect for urban driving.

We traveled on 18-inch alloy wheels with the new independent-strut front and rear multi-link independent suspension that felt somewhat stiff over bumps.

The roomy cabin is ergonomically designed to handle improved technology connectivity on the 8-inch touchscreen, dials, and pushbuttons.

NASA Zero-gravity inspired leatherette seats with contrast stitching are comfortable, and satin-chrome accents provide a modern, luxurious-like cabin ambiance.

Cabin storage is ample and rear seats split 60/40 for the cargo area, reduced to increase cabin space.

There is a spare tire, Android Auto and AppleCar link with a smartphone for navigation. The driver’s visor doesn’t fully cover the left ear.

At a Glance

LIKES: Looks, price, safety features, handling, spacious cabin
DISLIKES: Underpowered, visor limitation, no lane centering, slightly stiff ride
BOTTOM LINE: Vast safety and technology improvements merit a value looksee when shopping in tough market segment

Fact File: 2020 NISSAN SENTRA 2.0 SR CVT

Base price w/destination fee
Curb weight
EPA Rating
$38,865 ($39,260 as tested)
4,288 lbs.
117.3 inches
195.5 inches
78.4 inches
2.0-liter turbo inline4, direct injection
235 hp @ 4,500 rpm
258 ft.-lbs. @1,600 rpm
8-speed automatic w/overdrive
18 city, 23 hwy
18.6 gallons, premium
0-60 in just over 7 seconds

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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested world-wide market.

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