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2021 Nissan Sentra Review

The Nissan Sentra has plenty of safety features and a smooth ride, but that’s not enough to offset its sleepy performance, tight rear seats, and low predicted reliability rating. That’s why it sits near the bottom of our compact car rankings.

Pros & Cons

  • Upscale cabin
  • Lots of standard safety features
  • Unrefined powertrain
  • Less sporty than rivals
  • Fussy infotainment system

New for 2021

  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay now standard
  • Wi-Fi hot spot newly available

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Nissan Sentra's #12 ranking is based on its score within the Compact Cars category. Currently the Nissan Sentra has a score of 7.0 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 22 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.0

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.2
Performance: 6.1
Interior: 6.5
Safety: 9.6
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Nissan Sentra?

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Is the Nissan Sentra a Good Car?

The Nissan Sentra is an OK compact car. It has a few strong traits, such as seat and ride comfort, and it has plenty of standard driver aids. Other positive traits, such as fuel economy and handling, are still outdone by its rivals. On top of that, this sedan has ho-hum acceleration, a small trunk, subpar predicted reliability, and some finnicky infotainment features.

Why You Can Trust Us: 22 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know about this sedan in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data like mpg estimates, horsepower specs, and cargo space dimensions with 22 professional reviews.

This 2021 Nissan Sentra review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2020.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Nissan Sentra?

The Nissan Sentra is a decent sedan, but there are plenty of classmates that get you more bang for your buck. The Kia Forte is spacious and gets impressive mpg ratings, and the Honda Civic can be had with a variety of punchy engines. You might also consider the midsize Nissan Altima.

Compare the Sentra, Forte, and Civic »

2020 vs. 2021 Nissan Sentra: What's the Difference?

For 2021, Nissan makes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay standard in the Sentra. Both were previously available. Also, a Wi-Fi hot spot is a new option for the 2021 model year.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Sentra »

Here are some of the Nissan Sentra’s changes over the last few years:

  • 2018: no major changes
  • 2019: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto made available
  • 2020: fully redesigned with a restyled interior and exterior design, a 25-horsepower bump, and more standard and available safety features; turbocharged engine and six-speed manual transmission discontinued
  • 2021: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto added to standard features list; a Wi-Fi hot spot now available

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Sentra, 2019 Sentra, and 2020 Sentra reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Nissan Sentra Cost?

The entry-level Nissan Sentra sedan has a starting MSRP of $19,410. That’s in line with its classmates. The higher trims are fairly affordable, with the top-of-the-line SR starting at $21,750.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Nissan dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Nissan deals page.

Nissan Sentra Versus the Competition

Nissan Sentra vs. Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla, available as a hatchback or a sedan, has some of the same issues as the Nissan, such as an underpowered base engine. Both cars also have similar retail prices. However, the Toyota has a higher predicted reliability rating, a more intuitive infotainment system, and a stronger engine option. There’s little reason to pick the Nissan over the Toyota.

Compare the Sentra and Corolla »

Nissan Sentra vs. Honda Civic

The Honda Civic is a great compact car, and it’s a better choice than the Nissan. The Honda comes in sedan and hatchback body styles, both of which have more cargo space than the Nissan. The Honda furthers its appeal with an array of robust engines and spirited handling. With its turbocharged engine, the Civic sedan gets significantly better mpg ratings too.

Compare the Sentra and Civic »

Compare the Sentra, Corolla, and Civic »

Sentra Interior: Comfortable … with Asterisks

Sentra Cargo Space

With a 14.3-cubic-foot trunk, the Sentra sedan has slightly below-average space for the class. Even the subcompact Nissan Versa has more room.

How Many People Does the Sentra Seat?

Up to five people can sit in this Nissan. Cloth upholstery is standard. Upgraded cloth, synthetic leather, and genuine leather upholstery are all available, as are heated front seats, a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and a heated steering wheel.

The front seats are plush and supportive, and they coddle occupants in comfort. The rear seats are comfortable and reasonably spacious, though taller passengers might brush their heads against the ceiling.

Sentra and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats, as well as a tether anchor for the rear middle seat, which has the ability to borrow a lower anchor from either side. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this system the highest rating of Good+ for ease of use. The "+" indicates that the system is among the easiest to use.

Sentra Interior Quality

A blend of soft and hard plastics – plus aesthetic flourishes like a sporty steering wheel and rounded vents that evoke the designs of more expensive cars – give this Nissan’s cabin an attractive air.

Sentra Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Sentra’s infotainment system is simple and straightforward, with easy-to-reach physical controls and a well-placed touch screen. However, the display’s graphics are so-so, and the touch screen isn’t always the most responsive. Also, some of the climate controls require you to repeatedly push buttons rather than simply tuning a knob.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 7-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a four-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, and a USB port
  • Available infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, a Wi-Fi hot spot, two more USB ports, satellite radio, and a stereo with six or eight speakers
  • Additional standard features: push-button start
  • Other available features: proximity keyless entry, remote start, a moonroof, and dual-zone automatic climate control

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Sentra Performance: Bottom of the Barrel

Sentra Engine

Powering every Sentra is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 149 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. That’s OK for city driving, but the engine has a hard time supplying those bursts of power needed to pass on the highway. It’s also noisy under hard acceleration.

The sole transmission is a continuously variable automatic (CVT). Critics are divided regarding how smoothly it operates, but many agree that the CVT contributes to the powertrain feeling lethargic.

Sentra Gas Mileage

Lower Sentra trims get 29 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway, which is about average for a compact car. The Nissan Sentra SR earns fuel economy estimates of 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.

Sentra Ride and Handling

Adequate might be a good way to describe this sedan’s ride and handling. Its suspension glides over minor bumps and potholes, and there’s enough steering feedback for this Nissan to feel composed, though not enough for it to feel agile. The brakes are strong. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is unavailable.

Read more about performance »

Sentra Reliability

Is the Nissan Sentra Reliable?

The 2021 Sentra has a below-average predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five.

Nissan Sentra Warranty

Nissan backs the Sentra with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Sentra Safety

Sentra Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Sentra an overall safety rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in the side crash and rollover tests and four stars in the frontal crash test.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this sedan the highest rating of Good in all six crash tests. Models with LED projector headlights earned a Top Safety Pick designation. These headlights received the second-highest rating of Acceptable for forward visibility. Headlights in the other Sentra models received the lowest rating of Poor.

The IIHS uses a different scale for evaluating front crash prevention features. It gave the Sentra the highest rating of Superior for its standard vehicle-to-vehicle collision mitigation tech and the midtier rating of Advanced for its vehicle-to-pedestrian system.

Sentra Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Lane departure warning
  • Forward collision warning
  • Forward and reverse automatic emergency braking
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Rearview camera
  • Driver attention monitor
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Automatic high-beam headlights

Available advanced safety features:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Surround-view parking camera system

Read more about safety »

Sentra Dimensions and Weight

The Sentra is 15.2 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,036 to 3,084 pounds, and its gross vehicle weight rating is between 3,957 and 4,001 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Nissan Sentra Built?

Nissan builds the 2021 Sentra in Mexico.

Which Nissan Sentra Model Is Right for Me?

Nissan makes the 2021 Sentra in three trim levels: S, SV, and SR. All three have a 2.0-liter engine, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and front-wheel drive.

The base trim has a healthy dose of tech and driver assistance features. Comfort-minded shoppers or those who plan to ferry kids may want to consider the SV, which adds goodies like a rear-seat center armrest with cup holders and dual-zone automatic climate control.

Nissan Sentra S

The Nissan Sentra S has a starting MSRP of $19,410. Standard equipment includes a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a four-speaker stereo, a USB port, Bluetooth, forward collision warning, forward and reverse automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, automatic high-beam headlights, a driver attention monitor, and a rearview camera.

Nissan Sentra SV

Sentra SV models retail for $20,470. Additions include upgraded cloth upholstery, a passenger seatback pocket, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an 8-inch touch screen, a 7-inch digital driver display, satellite radio, a six-speaker stereo, two more USB ports, proximity keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start, adaptive cruise control, and alloy wheels.

You can add the SV Premium package for $2,270. It comes with a moonroof, leather-appointed seats with heating up front, a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and larger alloy wheels.

Nissan Sentra SR

The top-of-the-line SR trim starts at $21,750. Most of its additions are sport or style enhancements, such as cloth seats with orange stitching, a rear spoiler, a chrome-tipped exhaust, a dark chrome V-motion grille, and fog lights.

The $2,270 SR Premium package includes most of the same content as the SV package. However, it swaps leather seats for Prima-Tex synthetic leather upholstery. It also adds an eight-speaker Bose stereo, a Wi-Fi hot spot, a heated steering wheel, and a surround-view parking camera system.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Nissan dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Nissan deals page.

See 2021 Nissan Sentra specs and trims »

The Final Call

The Nissan Sentra is a fine compact car, but it’s overshadowed by better-rounded alternatives. Several vehicles in the class provide sharper handling, stronger engines, more striking infotainment systems, and more generous accommodations for passengers and cargo.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "If you're looking for a commuter car, it's absolutely worth consideration on the basis of feature content, interior comfort, and even style. But if you're at all particular about the actual driving experience, it's much tougher to make a case for the 2020 Nissan Sentra." -- Car and Driver (2020)
  • "The new 2020 Sentra manages to be a nicer car to drive and to live with, without sacrificing the value proposition. Sure, it's pricier than the last model, but it also comes standard with a full suite of in-demand safety features and driver aids. Buyers doing apples-to-apples comparisons will find a lot of reasons to consider this Sentra." -- Edmunds (2020)
  • "As a value proposition, at least, the 2020 Sentra makes a strong case for itself." -- CNET (2020)
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