How Safe Is the Nissan Sentra?

Small and reasonably priced, the Sentra has been Nissan’s flagship compact car for years. It boasts great fuel economy, an easy ride, and best of all, a super-low starting price. But does bargain prices equal bargain safety? The Nissan brand has a reputation for making safe and dependable cars, but how safe is the Nissan Sentra?

How the Nissan Sentra performs in safety testing

The Nissan Sentra SR is shown at AutoMobility LA on November 21, 2019 in Los Angeles, California
The Nissan Sentra | David McNew/Getty Images

The 2019 Nissan Sentra earned a four-star overall safety rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), performing well, but not great, in most testing areas. According to the NHTSA, the 2019 Sentra sedan earned four stars in all frontal crash testing categories, as well as in the rollover resistance test. The Sentra’s rollover risk is calculated to be 11.8 percent – high for the segment. The 2019 Sentra performed better in side-crash testing, receiving five stars in all side barrier and side pole testing.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that the 2019 Sentra performed well under most testing but struggled with earning good scores for its headlights. Though the Sentra receives the highest score of “Good” in all crashworthiness categories, its “Superior” rating in front crash prevention is only valid on models equipped with the optional feature.

In addition, standard Halogen headlights earned a “Poor” rating for inadequate visibility, while available LED headlights only received a rating of “Acceptable.”

The Nissan Sentra vs. the competition: are there safer choices?

The 2019 Nissan Sentra proved neither inadequately nor impressively safe, but when compared to its competition, it falls behind. According to, Nissan made the choice to redesign the Sentra after the 2019 model year because it simply couldn’t hold up amongst its biggest rivals.

In addition to other areas that could use improvement, the 2019 Sentra has a “lack of safety features” that come standard for many others. So even though the Sentra performed okay in all crash testing and safety ratings, it isn’t necessarily the safest choice.

The IIHS chose 2018-2019 Sentra models for a Top Safety Pick award in 2018, where the Sentra’s ratings barely made the cut. Fast forward to 2019 and the Nissan Sentra didn’t make the list for Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+, cut down by the competition. In fact, 25 total models were selected by IIHS for either award in the small car category, and not one of those is the Nissan Sentra.

Will the newest Sentra be the safest yet?

Much-needed improvements have been made to the newest, redesigned 2020 Nissan Sentra. According to Car and Driver, the recently-released model year is “a big improvement versus its predecessor.” An all-new platform improves driving dynamics and stability, while the Sentra also got a facelift inside and out. But in order to keep up with the competition, Nissan also improved the Sentra’s safety features.

According to Nissan, all 2020 Sentra models come standard with Nissan Safety Shield 360, “a suite of six advanced safety and driver-assist features.” For the first time, all Sentras will come standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, and high beam assist.

There are also 10 new and improved airbags, as well as adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree camera system on higher trims. Owners can also opt for an available drive-assist display that provides safety features and information directly ahead of your steering wheel.

With a safer design and more advanced standard safety features, the 2020 Nissan Sentra will prove to be the safest yet and compete with the best-rated in the segment.