2020 Nissan Sentra 2.0 SR new car reviews

The new-for-2020 Nissan Sentra is all about stance. How do we know that? The media release mentions the word three times in just two short paragraphs.

What else is new? How about a new 2.0-liter, inline-four engine and multi-link independent rear suspension? No more twist beam. Just the Xtronic CVT transmission is offered.

The lineup has been simplified, too--and sadly, no, that doesn’t mean a return of the SE-R or really anything aimed at the enthusiast market. We tested the SR model, and while that designation is two-thirds of the way to the famed SE-R badge, it’s basically the loaded model: LED lamps, Bose audio and 18-inch alloys, along with the opportunity to add some more options, like an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Where the Sentra line starts at $19,090, an SR model can be purchased for $21,430. With options, including the $2170 Premium Package, our test car stickered at $25,825 after destination.

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David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Hello, Sentra, it’s been a while. Back in 1992 I took advantage of a fantastic lease offer on a then-new Sentra. I was able to drive home with a brand-new Sentra–yes, the high-output SE-R model–for less than $200 per month and with very little money down.

Mine just had a single option: a/c. Instead of a radio, I got a blank-off plate. No cruise, either.

Not only did I have a new, reliable car, but I had a new, reliable autocross car. Just needed to add some magnetic numbers, take-off Yokohama A008 tires, and a SuperTrapp. I was set.

The latest Sentra doesn’t remind me too much about my old one. It’s a grown-up family car, not a stripped-down econobox fitted with a healthy engine and a limited-slip diff.

But this latest Sentra has moved upmarket. The interior doesn’t look or feel like an econobox. The touchpoints feel soft. The stitching looks rich.

The controls have a nice heft to them. Ditto the buttons. This represents a big, big step up from Nissans of late.

Even though the screen juts out from the dash, it works. It’s right where you’d want it, and the fact that it doesn’t retract doesn’t bug me.

The owner's manual isn’t needed in order to change the radio station. You can easily set the a/c. On some cars, sadly, this isn’t so easy.

Do we need fake carbon-fiber interior accents and a D-shaped steering wheel on a car that will never see the track? Maybe not but, for whatever reason, they also didn’t bother me. The wheel has a good feel to it. The fake carbon adds some textured accents to the interior. You get real gauges, too.

The new Sentra looks good, too, especially with the black roof. Nissan’s exterior designs have been spot-on lately.

Nissan’s Xtronic CVT box keeps evolving, and it likely won’t bother most Sentra shoppers. The shift action feels more like a traditional box than past CVTs, but it’s still not in the same league as today’s traditional automatics. It feels like Nissan bet on the wrong horse and is going to just stick with that decision. Honda uses CVTs, too, so maybe it’s par for the course.

Power is also fine for the class. No, it’s not a race car. The engine doesn’t sing. But, for most shoppers, it’s perfectly on target.

What’s separates this one from the rest of the class? I think it’s going to come down to styling and price–the Sentra undercuts the Civic by a grand or so and it looks pretty good.

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Comments
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MrFancypants
MrFancypants New Reader
5/18/20 1:12 p.m.

Oh cool, a CVT, the exact transmission enthusiasts yearn for.

penultimeta
penultimeta HalfDork
5/18/20 1:23 p.m.

Nissan’s old slogan was “Driven.” It’s new one should be “Good enough, I guess.” 

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
5/18/20 1:41 p.m.

I haven't driven or even sat in one of these, so it's not first hand knowledge.  But from what I've seen and read about them, I wouldn't say I'd walk up with total dread if a Sentra SR was waiting for me in the rental car lot.  They seem to be a quantum leap forward from recent Sentras of the past.  Damn shame they're still sticking with CVT though.  Just give up and put a 6 speed auto in there, heaven knows they're easy enough to source... or gasp...a manual. 

dxman92
dxman92 HalfDork
5/18/20 1:42 p.m.

Looks like a mini Altima. I iz a sad that no more manual. sad

Only Nissans with manual left are base Versa and 370z.

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 UberDork
5/18/20 1:51 p.m.
penultimeta said:

Nissan’s old slogan was “Driven.” It’s new one should be “Good enough, I guess.” 

This can't be emphasized enough. Nissan really is squeezing everything they can out of dated platforms. I remember when Nissan was kind of cool, I remember when they had the hype train rolling in 09 when they introduced the GT-R to the states, 11 years later they are the epitome of "meh." 

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/18/20 2:19 p.m.
penultimeta said:

Nissan’s old slogan was “Driven.” It’s new one should be “Financed” 

 

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
5/18/20 2:39 p.m.
DirtyBird222 said:

 I remember when Nissan was kind of cool

yeah, me too.  I'm convinced the Koreans are stepping into this spot.  

Someday's I think about becoming VelosterNGuy. 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/18/20 3:14 p.m.

I stopped reading when I got to CVT.  All other details are rendered irrelevant 

noddaz
noddaz UltraDork
5/18/20 3:34 p.m.
irish44j (Forum Supporter) said:

I stopped reading when I got to CVT.  All other details are rendered irrelevant 

laugh  nuff' said!

 

MrFancypants
MrFancypants New Reader
5/18/20 3:37 p.m.
irish44j (Forum Supporter) said:

I stopped reading when I got to CVT.  All other details are rendered irrelevant 

So....  you're not interested in the stance? Because it has a very powerful stance. Stance.

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) Reader
5/18/20 3:55 p.m.

Introducing the new Nissan AltiMaxiTra.  We've combined all the least popular features from our last 20 years into one sedan to keep things simple.  But Stance.

 

Stance. 

 

STANCE.

OldGray320i (Forum Supporter)
OldGray320i (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/18/20 6:39 p.m.

If they're going to harp on "stance" it should have looked like this:

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/18/20 7:47 p.m.
MrFancypants said:
irish44j (Forum Supporter) said:

I stopped reading when I got to CVT.  All other details are rendered irrelevant 

So....  you're not interested in the stance? Because it has a very powerful stance. Stance.

I think I've figured out who is going to buy these things, looking one thread down.

\

They'll have the best stance in the rental lot. 

Sonic
Sonic UltraDork
5/18/20 8:24 p.m.

Even as rental cars they are awful.  I had a 2020 Altima recently, it was shockingly awful to drive.  Sure the interior was nice enough and it was quiet but the powertrain calibration was the worst I've ever experienced and the steering was not far behind.  It wouldn't even track straight on a flat, new, highway.  I drove it back to back with my father's 2014 Accord and it was obvious how superior the 6 year old Accord was.  Nissan only seems to sell cars to rental companies or by getting people with terrible credit approved, look how well that worked for Mitsubishi.  

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
5/18/20 8:27 p.m.

Nissan came out with the Nismo Sentra 6-speed, maybe 200hp a few years ago and nobody got excited or talked about the car - no interest at all.  Maybe the Nismo Juke made a mockery of the brand.  
 

noddaz
noddaz UltraDork
5/18/20 9:09 p.m.

It looks like it was 188 HP, and no one got excited.  And I quote from C&D:

But the Sentra NISMO is not a racetrack-slaying, high-performance beast. Far from it, in fact, given that it has just 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque from a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. That’s less than was offered in the last Sentra SE-R (available from 2007–2012), which had 200 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It’s also far short of the Volkswagen GTI (210 or 220 hp), the Ford Focus ST (252 hp), and the Subaru WRX (268 hp).

 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/18/20 9:28 p.m.
Datsun310Guy said:

Nissan came out with the Nismo Sentra 6-speed, maybe 200hp a few years ago and nobody got excited or talked about the car - no interest at all.  Maybe the Nismo Juke made a mockery of the brand.  
 

I think it came out in 2017? It had 188 hp out of a 1.6T and weighed 3100lbs. It's competition in that price range that year? Jetta GLI/Golf GTI (210hp, more torque, 2.0T, similar weight) Civic Si (205hp, sub-3000lbs). Focus ST (250hp, 3300lb), WRX (270hp/3300  ), how about a regular 'ol Mazda3S? 185hp, around 3000lbs. 

Just for comparison with the Nismo Sentra.....the 2005 Altima SE-R was about the same size, marginally heavier, and had 260hp with 6MT and LSD. 

Nissan's calling card in the "import tuner" world were the SR20DET and the VQ. That's why people bought Nissans, for the great engines and strong transmissions. A bunch of mediocre engines, CVTs, and boring played-out cars  is what killed enthusiasts' interest in Nissan. 

 

 

That is a wonderfully blue car. 

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/19/20 2:25 a.m.

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

There was an Altima SE-R, and it had an LSD + 6-speed?

06HHR (Forum Supporter)
06HHR (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/19/20 8:26 a.m.
irish44j (Forum Supporter) said:
Datsun310Guy said:

Nissan came out with the Nismo Sentra 6-speed, maybe 200hp a few years ago and nobody got excited or talked about the car - no interest at all.  Maybe the Nismo Juke made a mockery of the brand.  
 

I think it came out in 2017? It had 188 hp out of a 1.6T and weighed 3100lbs. It's competition in that price range that year? Jetta GLI/Golf GTI (210hp, more torque, 2.0T, similar weight) Civic Si (205hp, sub-3000lbs). Focus ST (250hp, 3300lb), WRX (270hp/3300  ), how about a regular 'ol Mazda3S? 185hp, around 3000lbs. 

Just for comparison with the Nismo Sentra.....the 2005 Altima SE-R was about the same size, marginally heavier, and had 260hp with 6MT and LSD. 

Nissan's calling card in the "import tuner" world were the SR20DET and the VQ. That's why people bought Nissans, for the great engines and strong transmissions. A bunch of mediocre engines, CVTs, and boring played-out cars  is what killed enthusiasts' interest in Nissan. 

 

 

Even the Nismo Juke RS with the same engine had better specs (more power - 215 hp and less weight - 2950 lbs).  The 188 hp version was in the standard Juke model. It's like they weren't even trying.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin UltimaDork
5/19/20 8:30 a.m.
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

There was an Altima SE-R, and it had an LSD + 6-speed?

No, it didn't have an LSD.  The Maxima did, but it had the worse rear suspension.

 

 

300zxfreak
300zxfreak New Reader
5/19/20 8:33 a.m.

Let's all just face the facts: the Nissan of now is not the Nissan of old. 

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/19/20 9:39 a.m.

In reply to 06HHR (Forum Supporter) :

I actually think the Juke looks better than the Altima too. 

06HHR (Forum Supporter)
06HHR (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/19/20 10:05 a.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

If I could find an RS FWD manual transmission model in decent shape i'd pull the trigger on one.  Last I looked they were selling in the mid to high teens. Found on on Auto Trader for 13K but it was beat. 

fanfoy
fanfoy SuperDork
5/19/20 10:20 a.m.

Nissan is now the Chrysler of Japanese manufacturers sad

My girlfriends has a 2015 Sentra. It drives like a 90's Crown Victoria. Yuck. But she likes it. Cheap, huge inside, economical and hasn't given her problems. She'll probably change it for another one once it reaches 6-7 years of service. 

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 UberDork
5/19/20 10:32 a.m.
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

There was an Altima SE-R, and it had an LSD + 6-speed?

https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/a18202526/nissan-altima-se-r-short-take-road-test/

I'm pretty sure there is a team running one in Champcar right now and doing well with it. 

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
5/19/20 11:06 a.m.

I think we are going to see a number of car makers failing in the next few years. I think Nissan will be one.

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
5/19/20 11:47 a.m.

Not enough stance. 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/19/20 2:47 p.m.
ProDarwin said:
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

There was an Altima SE-R, and it had an LSD + 6-speed?

No, it didn't have an LSD.  The Maxima did, but it had the worse rear suspension.

 

 

Yeah I stand corrected got my wires crossed there. Though ironically I would perhaps argue that the Maxima rear suspension was better for certain things, especially if adjusted correctly. my 2001 Maxima was substantially faster around an autocross course than my good friend's Altima SER :)

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/19/20 2:49 p.m.

 

Ironically this morning I spotted this in the shopping center parking lot across from my house.   It is so bland looking the only reason I even noticed it was the silly black fuel filler door

b13990
b13990 Reader
5/19/20 3:04 p.m.

Looks kind of like the Harbor Freight version of a WRX.

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/19/20 3:38 p.m.

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

You didn't notice the stance? That should be the first thing you notice.

dculberson (Forum Supporter)
dculberson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/19/20 4:23 p.m.
b13990 said:

Looks kind of like the Harbor Freight version of a WRX.

I exhaled audibly.

dxman92
dxman92 HalfDork
5/19/20 7:06 p.m.

I drive a 15 Nissan Versa Note and really like the car but not happy but they dropped the hatch after 19 and 16 was the last year for stick shift Versa Note. 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/19/20 9:37 p.m.
NickD said:

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

You didn't notice the stance? That should be the first thing you notice.

You Keep Using That Word GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
5/19/20 9:46 p.m.

Should this thread really be 2 pages long?

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/19/20 10:51 p.m.
Datsun310Guy said:

Should this thread really be 2 pages long?

lot of people stuck at home these days doing things they wouldn't normally do.

like talk about the new Sentra. 

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