By Peter Perrotta
Nissan has been making Sentras for 38 years. That’s a nice run for this compact entry level model.
Ever wonder where these car makers come up with the names for these models?
Wikipedia says “the word Sentra sounds like central as well as sentry, which evokes images of safety.”
Another internet posting says the name Sentra is of Italian origin and means “beautiful.”
Suffice it to say that the Nissan Sentra has been around long enough so that most people know what it is.
However, this Japanese auto maker was not about to rest on its laurels when it comes to the Sentra. For the 2020 model year, Nissan has come out with an “all new” Sentra from top to bottom and inside and out.
I recently settled behind the wheel of the 2020 Nissan Sentra 2.0 SV CVT for one week to judge how they did with remodeling the all new Sentra.
In many ways the all new Sentra is a big hit. It’s exterior styling is sleek, sculpted and cool looking. Interior redesign is a big winner as well.
Inside the new Sentra looks more expensive than its price tag. It is intelligently laid out and fairly roomy but still a bit snug for my six-foot frame.
This new Sentra sits on a new platform and suspension as well. I found the new frame and suspension to be solid and very functional.
However, the new Sentra only offers one engine, the 2.0 liter four cylinder powerplant that produces 149 horsepower and 145 pound feet of torque.
Therein lies the problem with this new Sentra. Power. It really doesn’t produce enough power.
The folks at Car and Driver raved about “roomy interior, comfy seats, lots of tech and upscale features” on the new Sentra.
But, on the other hand, they also stated “incredibly slow acceleration, noisy engine and harsh ride.”
I think the folks at Car and Driver were being a bit too harsh here. Yes, the car is rather slow, but I wouldn’t say it was “incredibly” slow. It accelerates just as good as a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Civic.
Let’s face it folks, no one buys a compact car to win races at the Indy 500.
As far as the “harsh ride” knock, I didn’t find that to be the case at all.
In fact, I think the new suspension and frame for this new Sentra suits it quite well. I found the steering to be precise and the handling to be above average for a vehicle in this class.
Yes, there were times when I punched the accelerator looking to make an aggressive passing move or enter an on ramp on the interstate and found the power to be lacking, but that’s almost to be expected for a car in this class.
As far as the noisy engine complaint, I didn’t find that to be the case. Most of the time the engine for this Sentra was relatively quiet. However, when you do “punch it” a bit the engine revs become more audible than usual.
The base price for the Senta SV I tested is $20,270. The sticker price of my tester was $24,800, which includes added options and $925 for destination and delivery.
The added options included $2,400 for an SV premium package, $500 for a lighting package and $440 for an electronics package.
The SV premium package included: LED head lamps; power moonroof; quilted leather seats; 6-way power driver seat; heated seat and a leather shift knob.
The lighting package includes ambient interior lighting and some ground effects lighting.
The EPA fuel consumption ratings for this all new Sentra are quite impressive. It gets 33 miles per gallon overall – 39 mpg in highway driving and 29 in city driving.
The estimate annual fuel cost for driving the Sentra is a miserly $1,250 a year as it uses about 3 gallons of gas per every 100 miles driven.
This new model Sentra has not been government crash test rated yet.
The infotainment system in the new Sentra is fairly easy to use. My tester synched my phone and iPod music system rather easily.
However, my tester did not have a factory navigation system in it so I had to plug my Android phone into it and use Android Auto. I didn’t think the Android Auto system was as good as factory navigation system would be. I lost the signal several times while using the Android navigation system.
Overall, at the end of the day the Sentra can stand proudly side by side in comparison to either the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.