Thank its relatively strong residual values.
The Nissan Sentra is all-new for 2020, with fresh styling, a brand new chassis inherited from the latest Chinese-market Nissan Sylphy, and a truly independent rear suspension in place of the old rear torsion beam. You might think that all this would equate to a more expensive car, but that's not the case; CarsDirect has found that the 2020 Nissan Sentra is, at present, actually cheaper to lease than its predecessor, thanks largely to its stronger residual values.
In California, for example, the 2020 Nissan Sentra in middle-of-the-road SV trim is being advertised at $169 per month for 36 months with $2,249 due at signing - effectively $232 per month before taxes and other fees. The 2019 Sentra SV, meanwhile, is being advertised at effectively $248 per month.
Both of those lease offers include a $500 loyalty discount, meaning that in order to get those prices, you'll have to be coming from an existing Nissan or Infiniti lease. But that doesn't change the fact that the new Sentra is still, counter-intuitively, less expensive to lease than the outgoing model.
The reason for this is simple: residual value. That's the manufacturer's calculated value of the car after lease turn-in. After a car comes in off lease, it's auctioned off to a dealer who then reconditions the car and puts it up for resale. Because the 2019 Sentra is an old design that's been around the block a few times (pun intended), its anticipated resale value isn't very high.
By contrast, the 2020 Nissan Sentra is brand new, and therefore, it's anticipated to be more desirable on the used car market. Thus, it has a greater calculated residual value, and Nissan can afford to lease it more cheaply. As a matter of fact, CarsDirect reports that the new 2020 Sentra has an 18-percent advantage in residual value, which is massive.
Interestingly enough, the 2019 Sentra actually qualifies for a $1,975 lease discount in California, to the 2020 model's $1,025, but that's not enough to overcome the 2020's significant lead in residual value.
So if you were on the hunt for the right compact car lease to fit your budget, you might consider the 2020 Nissan Sentra. It's no Altima, but its new styling might be enough to fool many an onlooker.