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The Nissan Sentra is among the smallest in the Nissan lineup, trailing behind its siblings in both size and popularity. But with competition in the compact car segment stiffer than ever, the redesigned Sentra has higher expectations than ever before. But will the new 2020 Nissan Sentra deliver? And will it be good enough to take the crown from the Honda Civic?

The Nissan Sentra: redesigned for 2020

The Nissan Sentra is back for the 2020 model year fully redesigned in an effort to compete better amongst the stiff, compact car segment. And there isn’t much that isn’t new about the 2020 Nissan Sentra.

According to U.S. News, the 2020 Nissan Sentra gets a “stronger engine than the previous generation,” with the newest base engine now making 149 hp (a 25-hp improvement over the previous engine). But a more powerful powertrain is only fitting on an entirely new platform, which gives the Sentra an exterior design much closer to its Maxima and Altima siblings. This new platform also improves the Sentra’s ride quality and handling as well.

New looks continue on the interior of the Sentra, which receives roomier measurements throughout, improved seating, updated tech features, and additional driver-assistance features, such as automated emergency braking and blind-spot detection. The interior features higher-quality materials, including a standard 7.0 touchscreen and available 8.0-inch.

Where the 2020 Nissan Sentra stands out among the competition

Even Car and Driver experts say the 2020 Nissan Sentra “is a big improvement versus its predecessor,” applauding Nissan’s move to a new platform and updates throughout. Although the newest Sentra’s engine is more powerful, it still provides an above-average fuel-rating for its segment. The EPA estimates drivers will get 29 mpg in the city and an impressive 39 mpg on the highway. 

Its great fuel economy and better power aren’t the only things to like about the new Nissan Sentra, either. Consumer Reports gives the 2020 Nissan Sentra a higher overall score than it’s ever received before, of 73. But the newest Sentra scored an even more impressive 81 (out of 100) on the road test, with Consumer Reports experts raving about the “remarkable transformation to the driving experience.”

The newest Sentra’s more capable ride, better handling, amazing fuel economy, and roomy interior make it Consumer Reports’ picks as “one of the best compact sedans.” Nissan’s terrific reliability, as well as the Sentra’s decent entry-price, doesn’t hurt its case either.

2020 Nissan Sentra vs. 2020 Honda Civic: is the newest Sentra good enough?

The 2020 Nissan Sentra may be the best version of itself it has ever been, but when compared with the stiff competition in the segment, the Sentra just cannot hold up.

The same experts at Car and Driver that rave about the Sentra’s necessary improvements also claim that “despite these upgrades, the Sentra needs more power from its anemic engine to be competitive with better performers.” Although not a bad car, other compact cars are simply better than the Nissan Sentra.

U.S. News gives the 2020 Nissan Sentra a decent overall score of 6.9 (out of 10.0), ranking it as twelfth among new compact cars. The 2020 Honda Civic receives a more-impressive overall score of 8.5, earning it the title as second-best among new compact cars. The Honda Civic’s dynamic performance, driving style, and upscale interior fall too far from the reach of the Nissan Sentra.

When comparing the two, buyers have more choices of powertrains and transmissions when it comes to the Honda Civic, including manual transmission and turbocharged engine choices. Even the least-powerful engine available in the Civic delivers better driving dynamics without sacrificing much in the way of fuel-economy.

On the inside, Honda delivers features that are considered among the best in the class. For the price, the Honda Civic offers more value than the redesigned 2020 Nissan Sentra. 


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