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

As cyclists and pedestrians pass by at Humboldt and Government streets, a garden of blooming black-eyed Susans brightens up the northwest corner of the Fairmont Empress Hotel property on a partially sunny November afternoon. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Keep your umbrella handy for the next while around Greater Victoria

November has lived up to its reputation as one of the rainiest months of the year

A spokesperson for the Peninsula Country Market is upset that their third and final Winter Market won’t happen this Saturday in Central Saanich’s Centennial Park following moves by the municipality. (Facebook/Peninsula Country Market)
Central Saanich postpones weekend Winter Market, organizers upset

Lorea Tomsin said municipality’s move runs counter to provincial direction

Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming moves to the role of transportation minister in the NDP’s new cabinet. (B.C. government file photo)
Greater Victoria MLAs claim key roles in new cabinet

Transportation, Indigenous relations, children and family development ministries headed by locals

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a suspect who wore a black-and-white striped hoodie and rode a yellow mountain bike when he allegedly stole three children’s backpacks from a daycare facility. (Photo submitted)
VIDEO: Thief steals children’s backpacks from daycare in Nanaimo

Suspect rode a yellow mountain bike and made off with backpacks hanging on fence

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The Klahoose First Nation village on Cortes Island is under lockdown until further notice due to a positive COVID-19 test. Photo courtesy Kevin Peacey.
Cortes Island First Nation community locked down due to positive COVID-19 test

Klahoose First Nation has had one positive test, one other potential case

Ladysmith’s 1st Avenue will be lit up until January 15. (Cole Schisler photo)
Light Up parade a no-go, but Ladysmith’s streets are still all aglow

Although the tradition Light Up this year was cancelled, folks can still enjoy the holiday lights

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Most Read