2020 Nissan Sentra talks a walk on the upscale side

Jonathon Ramsey

The eighth-generation 2020 Nissan Sentra breaks cover with better, well, everything. Built on a new platform, this is the last of the automaker's sedans to get the corporate design language. Overall stance gets more aggressive, as does the center of gravity, thanks to the new compact being 2.2 inches wider in track and the roof height dropping 2.2  inches. A deep V-motion grille cuts through the bumper, bracketed by thin headlights outlined by an LED brow. The front fascia's been hardened up with angles and shaded to present the appearance of interlocking components. The Sentra's profile takes its cues from the Maxima, including the floating roof. In back, wider hips roll into reshaped taillights emphasizing the new sedan's width, and black mesh puts the new diffuser in bold. 

There are new wheel designs and eight exterior colors, including two-tone hues. New solid paints are Electric Blue Metallic, Fresh Powder, and Rosewood Metallic, while Red Alert is no more. Two-tone combos are Super Black/Gun Metallic, Super Black/Aspen White TriCoat, and Super Black/Monarch Orange Metallic. The Sentra intends to look the part with a new electric power steering unit turning a new rack in front, and an independent rear suspension supplanting the torsion beam in back. 

Nissan says the Sentra has a "sexy new look," and the cabin arguably got the sexiest bits. Designers and engineers worked on actual and perceived quality, upgrading the feel of the leather on the better looking, flat-bottomed steering wheel and designing smoother actuations for dials and switches. The controls have been reorganized and set off with satin chrome aluminum trim and contrast stitching. Better sealing for the body, doors, and windows and more acoustic materials has lowered cabin noise. The standard digital complement is a 4.2-inch display in the gauge cluster and a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen with Bluetooth. The options sheet at launch will count features like quilted and heated "leather-appointed" seats, heated outside mirrors, LED fog lights, the brand's Intelligent Around View Monitor, and an upgraded eight-inch infotainment touchscreen Infotainment compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

The 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 130 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque, and 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder reserved for the SR Turbo model, retire. They are replaced by a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 149 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque that's said to get better fuel economy than the 1.8-liter. The manual transmission bites the dust, all models shifting through the Xtronic CVT.   

Instead of the six trims available on the 2019 model, the 2020 Sentra starts off with three: S, SV, and SR. Building a sedan will be simple with just two option packages on offer. Every trim comes with the Safety Shield 360 features, plus 10 airbags, rear door alert, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, and Intelligent Driver Alertness, Intelligent Auto Headlights, and High Beam Assist. 

The S sits on 16-inch steel wheels with full covers, and gets remote keyless entry with push button start. The SV comes with better cloth seating, dual-zone climate control, intelligent cruise control, the eight-inch infotainment system, heated front seats, remote engine start, and 16-inch alloy wheels. The SR adds a dark chrome grille and LED headlights and fog lights, black painted side mirrors, extended side sills, a decklid spoiler, chrome exhaust finisher, 18-inch alloys, and a sport cloth interior with orange stitching. Four-wheel vented disc brakes can be added to the SV and SR grades.

The new Sentra goes on sale in late January.