When the Nissan Sentra first debuted back in 1982, it was when small econoboxes ruled a far bigger slice of the American car market, and it already had to contend with not only the Toyota Corolla, but also a whole host of long forgotten domestic entries that were vying for the attention of frugal minded U.S. shoppers. But 32 years of evolution have helped the Sentra not only become one of Nissan’s most successful models ever (with over six million units sold,) but also a much better entry in the compact car segment. Nissan is eager to showcase just how far the Sentra has come, and has formally unveiled the 2020 Sentra, which brings a much needed and welcome overhaul to both the exterior and the interior of this iconic compact.
The 2020 Sentra’s exterior styling has received a fair bit of attention, with the car having a much stronger styling connection to the larger Altima and Maxima sedans. This starts with the revamped front fascia which is far more aggressive than before, and it also manages to look much sleeker at the same time. The headlights are all new as is the new V-Motion style front grille, which finally allows the compact to comply with the rest of the firm’s new styling language. Slim LED headlights are optional, but the floating roof treatment is standard, and enhances the notion that the Sentra is far bigger than it really is. Opt for the range topping SR model, and you will be rewarded with a dark rear spoiler, larger 18-inch alloy wheels, black painted side mirrors, and a darkened chrome motif for the front grille. Sentra buyers can choose from eight different exterior colors (Electric Blue, Brilliant Silver Metallic, Gun Metallic, Super Black, Aspen White, Fresh Powder, Rosewood Metallic, and Scarlet Ember. But like a typical TV infomercial, there is indeed more, with Nissan even offering several two-tone colors (Super Black/Gun Metallic, Super Black/Aspen White, and Super Black/Monarch Orange.
The interior upgrades here follow the same script that we have seen in other Nissan models, with a higher level of attention to detail, as well as higher quality materials with better plastics, chrome accents, contrast stitching, and even a cleaner dash layout to help improve interior ergonomics for occupants. Leather trim can also be added to the Sentra, and for the first time ever, Nissan’s ‘Zero Gravity” seats also make there way into the compact for higher levels of comfort and luxury. A 7.0 inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and hands free texting is standard equipment, as well as a 4.2 inch digital instrument cluster. Higher trims get a bigger 8.0 inch screen that comes bundled with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability to help ensure that the Sentra can stay connected with a wide range of mobile devices. Thankfully, safety is not something you have to upgrade for, with all Sentra trims receiving Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 system. For those that need a brief refresher, the system bundles several useful safety features into one easy package with goodies such as blind spot monitoring, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, high beam assist, and automatic braking.
Performance for the Sentra has also been upgraded, with a more powerful 2.0 liter four cylinder engine replacing the wheezy 1.8 liter. The bigger engine now produces 149 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque which is an improvement of 20 and 16 percent respectively when viewed alongside the outgoing Sentra. The four cylinder is paired with a new version of Nissan’s “Xtronic continuously variable transmission which supposedly helps improve fuel economy, but Nissan stopped short of offering formal figures on that particular front. Along with the new engine, an all new platform also improves the Sentra’s underpinnings, with the ride height decreasing by 2.2 inches and the width actually increasing by 2.0 inches. As a result, the Sentra is endowed with better proportions, and a more prominent stance than before.
When the 2020 Nissan Sentra eventually makes its way to dealerships, it will come in three distinct grades (S, SV, and SR.) The base S model is roughly what the name suggests, and is about as tripped down as a Sentra can be with equipment such as 16-inch wheels, keyless entry, remote start, and not much else beyond that. In order to solve that problem, you have to upgrade to the SV model which brings 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, the larger 8.0 inch touchscreen, dual zone climate control, and cruise control with stop-go capability. The SR is the flagship Sentra model, and is designed to be a more performance oriented model with a special sport cloth interior standing out proudly with its orange contrast stitching. Nissan did not release pricing for the Sentra, but the car is expected to go on sale early next year, so look for this particular factoid to be revealed sometime in the near future.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.