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2020 Nissan Sentra: First Look

  • The Nissan Sentra compact sedan gets an overdue update for 2020.

  • A new look, a new engine and updated tech make this compact a whole new car compared to its predecessor.

  • Look for the new Sentra to arrive at dealers in January of 2020.

The Nissan Sentra is the brand’s best-selling model in the U.S., largely because of the value proposition it offers in compact cars. Sure, in its current form it may not be very competitive with more recently updated rivals the Honda Civic and Mazda3, but the Sentra is one of the most affordable compacts on the market — and also one of the roomiest.

At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Nissan has debuted an all-new 2020 Sentra that is much more in line with more modern offerings from Nissan, like the recently updated Altima and Versa. The new Sentra looks like Nissan will finally make it back to the top of more shopping lists for anyone looking for a modern compact car that delivers a strong value.

New Look

The all-new Nissan Sentra looks fantastic. The outgoing Sentra carries a Nissan design language that is now getting pretty old and stale, so it’s good to see Nissan’s compact sedan adopt the newer, sleeker corporate Nissan look. A few notable design elements include Nissan’s signature "V-motion" grille, tasteful black strips on the C-pillars, giving it the "floating roof" look, and a lower, wider stance that makes the whole care look more sporty and less boxy. It kind of looks like a little Altima, which we think is a good thing.

That new look continues on the inside, which might be an even bigger upgrade over the outgoing Sentra than the exterior. We never thought we’d describe a Sentra as premium, but it looks like it gets pretty luxurious when equipped with all of the bells and whistles. Like the exterior, the interior is Altimalike in its design with a tablet-style infotainment system (more on that shortly) perched on the center stack and controls that look well-designed and ergonomically friendly. A flat-bottom steering wheel is standard, which adds to the sporty nature of the new Sentra, and you get Nissan’s comfortable Zero Gravity front seats with available leather upholstery. Nissan claims this will be one of the quietest interiors in its class, and we’ll let you know if that’s true as soon as we drive one.

New Engine

One of our biggest complaints with the outgoing Nissan Sentra is an anemic base engine that’s adequate but not in any hurry. The old 1.8-liter 4-cylinder is being ditched in favor of a new 2.0-liter inline four making 149 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque, which is a respectable boost in performance numbers compared to the outgoing engine. There are no official fuel economy ratings for the new Sentra yet as of this writing, but Nissan says miles per gallon is "projected to improve" in addition to the bump in performance.

For the 2020 model year, all Sentra models will be equipped with the newest Xtronic continuously variable transmission automatic transmission. That means the Sentra will join the ever-growing list of cars that are no longer available with a manual transmission. There is no word yet on whether a turbocharged engine will ever be offered like it is in the outgoing Sentra or if the performance-oriented NISMO trim will return. But for now, there’s only one engine available in the new Sentra. The 2020 Sentra’s model range consists of a base S model, a midrange SV and a sporty SR, all of which will share the same engine and transmission.

New Tech

A lovely 7-in infotainment system comes standard on the 2020 Sentra, along with a 4.2-in digital driver’s display in the gauge cluster. A few standard connectivity features include Bluetooth, hands-free text messaging assist, Siri Eyes Free and Google Assistant. If you upgrade to the SV or SR trim, a bigger 8-in screen becomes available with a 7-in digital driver’s display. This upgrade comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

As for standard safety tech, this sedan is quite competitive with the Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of driver assistance tech coming standard on every 2020 Sentra. This includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, high-beam assist and rear automatic braking. Other standard safety features include 10 supplemental airbags, a rear door alert and a driver alertness monitor.

As of this writing, pricing is unknown for the 2020 Sentra, but we expect it to be in line with competitors in starting under the $20,000 mark. Whether the Sentra will remain one of the more budget-friendly compacts on the market remains to be seen. This car will be arriving on dealer lots in late January of 2020, so keep an eye out for it if you’re shopping for a compact car next year. Find a Nissan Sentra for sale

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