Maybe you’ve heard this adventure before: Nissan’s redesigned bunched auto seeks to abduct added Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic buyers. The aberration is that this time, it may assignment added effectively. Track-testing and abundantly active the new 2020 Nissan Sentra reveals how far the automaker has animated its compact. The 2020 Sentra won’t boss the sales charts, but our time with an SR tester shows area the new Nissan excels … and avalanche abbreviate adjoin the crumbling chic leader.
First off, let’s booty a moment to mark the Sentra’s progress. Back we aftermost activated a mainstream-trimmed model, that 2016 Sentra SL eventually hit 60 mph in 10.0 seconds. Our 2020 Sentra SR tester was about 200 pounds added than that basal driver car, but the new Nissan allowances from a added able engine. All 2020 Sentras are motivated by a 149-hp 2.0-liter artlessly aspirated I-4. That doesn’t complete like abundant power, and, well, it’s not. But its 8.0-second 0-60 time is not alone appropriate in the mix with key competitors, it’ll apparently feel accomplished for anyone active a 10-year-old bunched sedan.
Having said that, every 2020 Civic EX and up will be about a abounding additional quicker to 60 mph, acknowledgment to that car’s 1.5-liter turbo-four. The Volkswagen Jetta is additionally swifter, application its 1.4-liter turbo-four to hit 60 in alone 7.6 seconds. You’re because the Corolla, too, right? A Corolla XSE we activated beyond 60 in 8.2 abnormal and absolutely acquainted aloof as active as a quicker Civic activated in the aforementioned comparison. Aloof apperceive that if you don’t get the Corolla SE or XSE, Toyota saddles the bunched with an agent we alleged loud and underpowered. With the Sentra, alike if you don’t go big like our orange-and-black SR tester, you still get the appropriate 149-hp engine.
Like about every added bunched auto around, the 2020 Sentra uses a CVT. Normally, I’m a huge fan of CVTs, which—when able-bodied tuned—can accomplish commuting backbreaker the atomic bit added livable. Their accuracy agency you don’t feel the shift-shock you ability in a accepted automated transmission. Unfortunately, the 2020 Sentra’s CVT tries too adamantine to affectation the actuality that it’s alive with alone 149 hp. As we acclaimed in our First Drive review, the Sentra is a little surgey at low speeds. It’s a affability affectation Nissan should fix for the 2021 or 2022 Sentra, forth with a analytical behavior that makes advancing to a bland stop hardly difficult.
Otherwise, the 2020 Sentra’s anchor pedal is acquainted for commuting, with a bendable antecedent bite. Although the Sentra’s best 60-0 braking achievement of 114 anxiety exhausted Civics with the 2.0 and 1.5T engines as able-bodied as competitors from Volkswagen, Toyota, and Kia, there’s an asterisk here. During our appraisal on the track, alley analysis editor Chris Walton acclaimed ABS pulses in the pedal, acceptable dive, and inconsistent achievement over four tests.
The absolute abruptness was how the 2020 Sentra presented itself on the MotorTrend figure-eight course, which abnormally evaluates handling, acceleration, and braking, as able-bodied as the transitions amid them. With a time of 27.0 abnormal at 0.63 g (average), the Sentra SR breach the aberration amid the two Civics but calmly exhausted the Corolla XSE.
“Despite apparent anatomy roll, it’s accidentally fun,” testing administrator Kim Reynolds said. “It turns in with a nice eagerness.”
Regardless of how that anatomy cycle ability bother some added than others on a ambagious alley (hi, Mom and Dad!), the Civic is a bigger back-road partner. We get it, though—most compact-sedan buyers aloof charge a acceptable car to get to work. The Nissan mostly delivers here. Although we noticed added anatomy cycle than at the antecedent 2020 Sentra barrage event, we still begin the ride of the SR archetypal to be adjustable but firm. There’s a class-appropriate akin of babble central the cabin, which is a bearing and a bisected bigger than the approachable car’s cabin. Simply put, the new Sentra is added stylish, central and out.
You appetite added than aloof style, though. Back it comes to autogenous space, the 2020 Sentra’s aback bench is ample abundant for four, with bendable advanced seatbacks a adequate abode to bang knees. Allowance is a little tight, but if you’re consistently shuttling 6-footers about boondocks and charge max headroom, try a Kicks. As for burden space, the 2020 Sentra’s 14.3 cubic anxiety is respectable, about alike with the Jetta, 1.2 cubic anxiety added alveolate than the Corolla, and 0.4 to 0.8 cubic anxiety abate than the Civic.
That annoying Honda matches or beats the Nissan in ammunition abridgement beyond best trims. Nissan expects the 2020 Sentra S and SV to acquire 29/39 mpg city/highway, with the SR advancing in at 28/37 mpg. Automatic-transmission 2020 Civics get 29-32/37-42 mpg depending on trim. The 2020 Corolla is acceptable for 29-31/37-40 mpg.
Although the Honda charcoal the best car in the bunched class, the Civic can’t exhausted the 2020 Sentra’s amount argument. If you don’t apperception missing out on the Civic’s better-tuned CVT, the Sentra offers bags of value—especially as an SV model. The 2020 Sentra SV with floormats is about the aforementioned amount as the 2020 Civic LX, but the Nissan offers a beyond awning that’s army college on the dash, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a leather-wrapped council wheel, and hands-free keyless access. These are appearance you’re activity to use or blow every day.
Higher up the amount ladder, the picture’s hazier. Once you get to the Civic EX, Honda equips the bunched auto with the added able 1.5-liter agent and an eight-way ability driver’s seat—the Sentra alone offers six means of adjustment. Both the Civic and Corolla action an electric parking brake, as well, compared to the Sentra’s foot-operated unit.
That convenience-feature omission, forth with the adaptive cruise control’s annoyed responses in traffic, aren’t above issues. At its core, the 2020 Sentra is a much-improved car—it’s quicker, still spacious, and boasts added appearance than before. Depending on the trim, we can see why addition would go Sentra. That’s accomplished for now, but what happens back the already spacious, efficient, attractive, fun-to-drive, and aesthetic Civic gets redesigned abutting year? In the meantime, we can acknowledge the Nissan’s allusive activating improvements admitting a brace odd manual tendencies. Sentra commuters accept it bigger than they accept in years.