The rating applies to the 2016 Sentra when equipped with optional forward-emergency braking technology.
The feature is available on the 2016 Sentra SR and SL models equipped with the optional Technology package.
On sale now at Nissan dealerships, the 2016 Sentra earned "good" ratings in five Institute crash tests and a "superior" rating for front-crash prevention.
"In the 12 mph track test, the Sentra avoided a collision completely," said the Institute in a statement on Tuesday. "In the 25 mph test, the car's impact speed was reduced by an average of 10 mph."
Standard safety equipment on the 2016 Sentra includes six airbags, vehicle dynamic control, traction control and antilock brakes.
A number of advanced safety technologies are now optional on the 2016 Sentra for the first time. They include forward-emergency braking, intelligent cruise control, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.
It received four stars in the front crash test, five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the rollover crash test.
Edmunds says: Car shoppers keeping score should note that of the aforementioned competitors, only the 2016 Honda Civic also earned the Top Safety Pick+ award.