2020 Nissan Sentra Yearlong Test Update: Big Fish in a Small Tank
In our last update, we’d just received our long-term 2020 Nissan Sentra sedan back from the dealership after its visit for routine maintenance and repair of a faulty door lock actuator. While our Rosewood Metallic 2020 Sentra SV was in the shop, Nissan lent us an Electric Blue Metallic 2021 Sentra SR, the lineup’s top trim and one step up the ladder from our long-termer. Let’s take a look at how the two compare.
In addition to being one trim higher, our SR loaner (pictured here and in the gallery) was also a model year newer than our SV. Nissan made no updates to the drivetrain for 2021, though, and that played out in our driving experience. The SR displayed the same ponderous, uninspired, yet comfortable drive as our SR. There’s nothing exciting about the Sentra’s drive, and there isn’t meant to be.
Like our long-termer, our loaner came with Nissan’s SR Premium package, which treats buyers to a few more goodies than are included in the SV Premium package. The Intelligent Around View Monitor made parking, even of the back-in and parallel varieties, a snap. Press the camera button next to the touchscreen to cycle through front, rear, bird’s-eye, and—praise be—passenger-side front wheel views.
One thing in the SR model we didn’t savor was the Prima-Tex seating. This upgrade is part of the Premium package; the lavish, truly luxurious quilted leather seating in the 2020 SV Premium package is not available in the SR trim. The faux leather material feels rubbery, sticky, and obviously artificial. In our loaner, it was accented with cute, sporty orange stitching. There might be some halo-polishing value in buying vegan seating, but we found it no match for the smooth, creamy dead cow skin in our long-term Sentra.
Our SR loaner came dressed in a youthful blue paint and included a black roof, a $250 option. The two-tone paint lends the Sentra a sporty look, but the black roof blends in with the accent strip between the roof and the rear quarter panel, spoiling the floating roof effect. When the body and roof colors match, the accent strip combines with the pointed daylight opening and the raked rear window to give the Sentra a sleek focal point we like to compare to Cleopatra’s eyeliner.
The 2021 SR we drove has a base price of $22,675, or $25,910 as tested. In regards to that other financial consideration, gas mileage, the SR comes in slightly weaker at 37/28/32 mpg highway/city/combined to the SV’s 39/29/33 mpg. The two trims’ drivetrains are identical, so that marginal difference is likely down to the SR’s larger 18-inch wheels. Regardless, and not surprisingly, Nissan’s top Sentra trim still rings in at an incredible value.
- Update 1: 2020 Nissan Sentra Road-Trip Review: The Pros and Cons of Compact Car Travel
- Update 2: Our Nissan Sentra Goes to the Test Track
- Update 3: Road Trip Part Deux
- Update 4: The Repair and Maintenance Experience
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