The 2021 Nissan Sentra is proof you don’t need to break the bank to get a reliable set of wheels. The pragmatic sedan, fresh off a complete redesign, received high marks in the J.D. Power 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, scoring 42 points above the segment average. The Sentra was also named as one of Autotrader’s “Best New Cars of 2020” and “10 Best Cars for Recent College graduates.”
Here is a quick overview of the 2021 Nissan Sentra.
The new Sentra is available in three trim levels: S, SV, and SR. Here are the starting MSRP figures for each (the destination fee of $925 is included).
Sentra S: $20,335
Sentra SV: $21,395
Sentra SR: $22,675
The Sentra resides between the Versa and the Altima in Nissan’s lineup.
Powertrain & Fuel Economy
Under the hood is 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 149 horsepower and 146 lb-ft. of torque. Direct injection and continuously variable valve timing systems within the engine help increase performance and fuel economy. Nissan’s Xtronic transmission relays power to the front wheels.
As of this writing, EPA fuel economy estimates are not available for the 2021 Nissan Sentra via fueleconomy.gov. However, the 2020 model returns nearly 40 mpg on the highway. We would expect the 2021 Sentra to have similar numbers.
Is The Nissan Sentra All-Wheel Drive
Unfortunately, no. The 2021 Sentra is only available as a front-wheel drive car. However, given the price point, that’s probably okay. While all-wheel drive does have benefits, it would also add cost to the Sentra (both initially and with long-term maintenance) and decrease fuel economy. All-wheel drive is available, however, on the larger Altima sedan.
2021 Nissan Sentra: Tech & Safety Features
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on every trim level, while the SR has the option for NissanConnect Services and NissanConnect with a Wi-Fi hotspot. SV and SR models include two front USB ports (Type A and Type C) and a single rear charge-only USB port (Type A). The S model has a single front USB port (Type A) with an iPod interface. A 12-volt DC power outlet is standard on every 2021 Sentra.
Safety features include driver and front passenger seat-mounted side-impact airbags, roof-mounted curtain side-impact airbags with rollover sensor, and driver and front passenger knee airbags. The LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) is standard on every Nissan Sentra. Body side reinforcements, hood buckling creases, and an energy-absorbing steering column all provide additional protection in the event of an impact.
Furthermore, Nissan Safety Shield 360 is standard on all 2021 Sentra models. The package includes Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist, and Rear Automatic Braking.
Features & Options By Trim Level
Cloth seats are standard on the S trim level, while leather-appointed seats are available for the SV. Prima-Tex leatherette seats are optional for the SR. Heated seats are also available for the SV and SR trim levels.
A seven-inch touchscreen display is standard on the S model. SV and SR trim levels receive a larger eight-inch touchscreen. A Bose premium stereo with eight speakers is available for the Sentra SR. SiriusXM is standard on the SV and SR but not available on the S. Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard on the SV and SR but not available on the S.
Extra Premium Packages
The SV Premium Package adds 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a moonroof, quilted leather-appointed seats (front and rear), a six-way power driver’s seat with two-way power lumbar, heated front seats, and a leather shift knob.
The SR Premium Package includes LED headlights with LED Daytime Running Lights, a moonroof, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, Prima-Tex seats, six-way power driver’s seat with two-way power lumbar, Bose audio, Intelligent Around View Monitor, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror, among other features.
The Nissan Sentra is a solid offering, but it has tough competition. The Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Mazda3 are perennial favorites, as is the new Hyundai Elantra. Hyundai put the Elantra through an extensive redesign for 2021 and even dropped a sporty N Line variant earlier in 2020. Our recommendation is to test drive each of these vehicles and see which one best fits your preferences.
Given the available features and options, we would probably skip the Sentra S. Although it has a great price point, it’s a bit too “bare-bones” for us. For example, the lack of satellite radio, heated seats, dual-zone climate control, and the limited number of USB ports are dealbreakers for us. While they run a little higher in price, the SR and SV give you more standard features and have more options available. Either one of those trim levels will be a better bang for your buck.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Society of Automotive Historians. He serves on the board of directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, is a past president of Detroit Working Writers, and a loyal Detroit Lions fan.