2021 Nissan Sentra Earns 2nd-Highest Safety Award

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - December 8, 2020

For the 2020 model year, Nissan introduced a fully-redesigned Sentra. While the compact vehicle arrived with more standard safety features over the 2019 model, the Sentra missed out on an award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) because of its headlights. For 2021, Nissan has updated the sedan’s headlights, giving the Sentra the necessary scores to earn the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick award.

This isn’t the first time the Sentra has earned an award from the IIHS. The sedan earned the Top Safety Pick award from 2017 to 2019 and was a Top Safety Pick+ in 2016. Going back a little further, the 2015 model was also a Top Safety Pick. So, in the past six model years, the Sentra has earned an award from the IIHS. Seeing the sedan miss out on an award for 2020 was peculiar. That could explain why Nissan was so quick to make the necessary changes for the 2021 model year.

According to the IIHS, Nissan made changes to the Sentra’s available LED projector headlights that are offered on the SR and SV trims with the Premium package. The improvements saw the headlights go from earning a “Poor” rating to an “Acceptable” rating. Both 2020 and 2021 Sentras that have the upgraded LED headlights qualify for the institute’s Top Safety Pick.

Nissan Sentra

Beyond its headlights, the Sentra met the other necessary requirements to earn the Top Safety Pick award. That includes earning a rating of “Good” in all six crash tests and “Advanced” or “Superior” ratings for both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention system tests. The Sentra earned a “Superior” rating in the vehicle-to-vehicle test, while earning an “Advanced” rating in the vehicle-to-pedestrian test.

With the Sentra earning the Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, Nissan now has three vehicles to earn one of the institute’s awards. Surprisingly, the other two vehicles are also sedans, including the Nissan Altima that earned a Top Safety Pick award and the Nissan Maxima, which was named a Top Safety Pick+ vehicle. None of the automaker’s SUVs have done well enough to earn an award from the IIHS.

Overall, Nissan’s behind the competition when it comes to having vehicles that earn an award from the IIHS. Toyota (eight vehicles), Subaru (10 vehicles), Honda (seven vehicles), Kia (six vehicles), Hyundai (10 vehicles), and Mazda (seven vehicles) have a lot more award winners in their respective lineups.

Compact vehicles like the Sentra typically earn the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick award. Only a few, like the Honda Insight, Mazda Mazda3, and Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid earned a Top Safety Pick+ award. Headlights tend to be the major issue with smaller vehicles. For the most part, automakers fit smaller vehicles with subpar headlights to keep costs down. While the vehicles may be more affordable than their larger counterparts, they tend to not be as safe.

When it comes to direct competition, the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Subaru Impreza, and Toyota Corolla also won a Top Safety Pick award.

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, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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