The Nissan Sentra compact sedan is not known as a sensuous vehicle, with a reputation more geared to practical and affordable transportation. So, it’s a nice surprise to climb into a 2020 Nissan Sentra 2.0 SV and be greeted with an interior awash in warm, diamond-quilted leather. It’s a good first impression and one I wasn’t expecting, especially at this price.
The base 2020 Sentra 2.0 is $21,195, and this midrange SV trim is optioned up to $24,800. The SV package is $2,460 and upgrades the look with thin LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels instead of the standard 16s, a small moonroof over the front seats, power driver’s seat with lumbar support, leather on the shift knob, and those heated, quilted front seats.
A Tan Leather Welcome
The tan leather seats are accented with black leather bands on the sides and a short strip in the middle. The dash is mostly tan, a nice break from the standard black that is ubiquitous across the industry.
Continuing the theme, the front doors are black leather with a bit of padding on top, which gives way to tan leather in the middle with padded armrests and some chrome for bright accents as well as an industrial design plastic trim that is used sparingly on the doors and around the cupholders.
I appreciate the height-adjustable seatbelts and am continually amazed at how many high-end luxury vehicles don’t have this feature that is key to comfort for all but average-height drivers.
Do It Yourself
The Sentra has a manual tilt and telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the seat adjustments are also manual.
Under the hood is a 2.0-liter I-4 engine that puts out 149 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a continuously variable transmission—Nissan remains committed to CVTs. It can be a noisy engine when it’s working hard, so turn up the six-speaker stereo system.
A $500 lighting package provides ground lighting as well as ambient lighting inside the cabin. The $440 Electronics package swaps the conventional rearview mirror for a frameless mirror and adds a remote as well as map pocket lighting.
Small But Functional Display Screens
There is a 7.0-inch display in front of the driver with conventional gauges that many buyers appreciate. The small 8.0-inch infotainment screen is propped up in the dash—no real attempts at integration here. But it gets a thumbs-up for the hard knobs for volume and tuning. In fact, all the switchgear is clean and uncluttered—nothing fancy or even overly modern. It all looks and feels very familiar.
The Sentra comes equipped with SiriusXM satellite radio and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The two front USB ports are type A and C. They are nicely placed up front, easy to see and access, and located above a rubber mat for the phone to rest.
In terms of comfort, there is dual-zone climate control.
Climbing Into the Back Seat
The rear has a 60-40 split bench seat done in black leather with tan headrests. There is a cargo pocket on the back of the front passenger seat only. Legroom is decent for back-seat passengers, and the seat backs have some give in case long knees make contact. There is also padding on the top portion of the seats if you brush a shoulder or arm against it.
The rear doors are also hard plastic on top, then give way to tan leather in the center and back to black plastic at the bottom of the door, which houses a small storage area that can hold a bottled water. Some carbon-fiber-looking plastic trim around the door locks and a padded armrest elevate the overall look. A single USB charge point is the only back-seat center console amenity, but it is the one passengers want most.
Moving to the trunk, the mat is part of a $205 package that also includes carpeted floormats. It’s a good-sized trunk, and the upgraded carpet, while not opulent, means no worries about scratchy materials. There are no extra storage cubbies or nets, just an expanse of space for gear. The trunklid lifts easily, rising nice and high, and it has a wide opening.
Getting out of the Sentra, the doors shut with a satisfying sound. They feel and sound substantial, not tinny. Kind of sums up this $24,000 car. Pretty substantial, with a lot of non-fancy switchgear but a dollop of quilted-leather opulence. The Sentra has come a long way and no longer feels like a value compromise. The value is still there, but it can be purchased proudly.