How Reliable Is the Nissan Sentra?

The Nissan Sentra has always been seen as an unpretentious, reliable, good looking sedan that has been a solid part of  Nissan’s lineup for many years. However, when Consumer Reports reviewed the Nissan Sentra, they only gave it a 3 out of 5 in predicted reliability.

The Sentra faced some serious backlash due to transmission failure in 2013 through 2017. However, Nissan regrouped and completely redesigned the 2020 Nissan Sentra from the ground up. Here are some of the reasons the Sentra got mediocre scores in the reliability review and why there’s plenty of hope for new Sentra buyers.

Nissan Sentra trouble spots

The most recent Nissan Sentra reviewed for reliability by Consumer Reports is the 2017 model, as data for that category in newer models aren’t available yet. They found several trouble spots with Sentra. Consumer Reports uses a five-level grading system for reliability, with one being the worst and five being the best.

In the review, they said there were major problems with the Sentra’s brakes, giving it just a one. The Sentra received just a two in paint and trim as well as body integrity. It only scored a three for suspension and power equipment, both important parts of a vehicle’s long-term value. Major transmission problems were also reported. Here is a run-down on how Consumer Reports ranks reliability.

The Sentra class-action suit

2017 Nissan Sentra Nismo is on display at the 109th Annual Chicago Auto Show
The Nissan Sentra | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The 2017 Nissan Sentra didn’t do much better at In fact, the owner-feedback based site put an “Avoid Like the Plague” stamp on the 2013 through 2017 Sentra years due to a CVT transmission failure that is very expensive to repair. There were so many complaints about this that there was a class-action settlement in 2019.

Even though the case came out in favor of the drivers, many weren’t happy with the deal. It only covered the Sentra’s CVT transmission repairs up to seven years after its purchase or 84,000 miles, whichever came first. Since many Sentra owners drive their vehicles more than 20,000 miles per year, they weren’t covered by the offer. 

There are other things that cast doubt on the 2017 Sentra’s reliability. Owners reported the Sentra hesitating while accelerating and thumping noises coming from under the hood.

The 2020 Nissan Sentra leaves the past behind

The new Nissan Sentra is redesigned from the ground up to solve the reliability problems of the past. There is a lot that Consumer Reports likes about the all-new 2020 Nissan Sentra. Overall, they say it’s a big step up from its predecessor, with a new 149-hp engine paired with the same CVT transmission that’s in the Rogue Sport. Another plus is the new platform that is lower and wider.

One of the main selling features of the redesigned 2020 Sentra is its standard suite of safety features. Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 includes driver-assist technologies like automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic warning, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, rear automatic braking, and automatic high beams. 

The new Nissan has a more premium feel inside and out and efficient performance that comes from a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that puts out more power than any previous Sentra. It also gives drivers dynamic handling with a sport suspension and advanced steering. 

Another way new owners get long-term peace of mind is the warranty that comes with all Nissan vehicles. It covers 3 years or 36,000 miles, and there’s a 5-year/60,000-mile limited warranty for the powertrain.

Even though the 2017 Nissan Sentra had a lot of problems, the all-new Sentra promises to be turning over a new leaf for Nissan. In fact, Consumer Reports predicts it can now compete with other established compact sedans in its class.