It would be great to own the safest car possible, but there are many options and factors that go into selecting a car. Headlights are one important safety feature to consider. About 50% of the car crashes that result in deaths happen in the dark, and more than 25% happen on roads that don’t have lights. Buyers looking for a car with well-rated headlights might consider the 2021 Nissan Sentra. The 2021 Nissan Sentra just won a top safety award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but only when an optional headlight is selected. Here’s a look at the 2021 Nissan Sentra and its safety features.
The Top Safety Pick award
The IIHS recently announced that the 2021 Nissan Sentra had been awarded a Top Safety Pick in part due to its improved headlights. The vehicles that earn a Top Safety Pick award all earn good ratings in the six creditworthiness tests, which look at small overlap front for the driver-side, small overlap front for the passenger-side, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats.
In addition, these award winners earn advanced or superior ratings in vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention as well as vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention. Lastly, the vehicles must have earned acceptable or good ratings for headlights offered on one or more trim levels.
There is a higher award level, the Top Safety Pick+. Vehicles that earn this award must have an acceptable or good rating for all available headlight options. The IIHS explains that it tightened the requirements in 2020 for this highest award.
The Nissan Sentra had been redesigned for the 2020 model year, but its inferior headlights held it back from being named as an award winner. In September of 2020, the Sentra’s optional LED projectors included with the Premium package on the SR and SV trims received improvements. This change earned an acceptable headlight rating and qualified the 2020 Nissan Sentra (if manufactured after the upgrade) and the 2021 Nissan Sentra for the Top Safety Pick when those particular headlights are selected.
Headlight options on the 2021 Nissan Sentra
The IIHS tested three different headlight options for the 2021 Sentra. Only one option received an acceptable rating (good is the best). The other two were rated poor, which is the lowest of the four rating levels.
As mentioned, the LED projector headlights are available on the SR trim and SV trim when equipped with the Premium package. This style was rated acceptable. The LED reflector headlights, rated poor, are standard on the SR trim. The halogen projector headlights also rated poor are standard on the S trim and SV trim.
Safety features on the 2021 Nissan Sentra
The 2021 Sentra also includes well-rated safety features. Its standard front crash prevention system received the IIHS’s superior rating in the vehicle-to-vehicle test and the advanced rating in the vehicle-to-pedestrian test. It avoided collisions with other vehicles and avoided most collisions with pedestrians.
One test where it didn’t do as well was in the higher-speed “crossing child” pedestrian test. It tests whether a vehicle going 25 MPH would be able to avoid hitting a child who stepped into the street. The Sentra’s system only slowed the car down by an average of 8 MPH before the car hit the child test dummy.
The Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite includes standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot warning, lane departure warning, and high beam assist. Car and Driver mentions that adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree camera system are available for the SV and SR trims.
The 2021 Nissan Sentra has good safety features and good crash test results from the IIHS, but its recent IIHS Top Safety Pick award applies only to models with the optional headlights. To make sure you get these best-rated headlights, look at the Sentra SR or and SV trim with the Premium package.