The Nissan Sentra comes to market at a time when fewer people are buying compact sedans, and fewer automakers are making them. Yet, the 2020 Sentra is an important entry-level vehicle for Nissan, as it has been since it was first launched in 1982. In that span, it has become the best-selling nameplate over time for the Japanese brand, and the 2020 redesign grows from a basic budget car to a balanced value buy loaded with standard features and toned with some athletic muscle.
The sole engine option for the 2020 Sentra is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 149 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission choice is a CVT, with the manual getting the ax for 2020. Performance is quite tepid; in our testing, it dragged itself from zero to 60 mph in a slothlike 9.2 seconds. With its new platform and independent rear suspension, the ride quality is firm; medium-size bumps are especially noticeable. The new setup delivers balanced handling through the curves and the brakes have a pleasingly firm pedal. We recorded a stopping distance from 70 mph of 170 feet, which is a solid result for this class. Despite the hefty steering feel, there isn’t enough feedback from the tires to inspire spirited driving.