The compact sedan redefined.
Nissan could have called it quits, just like Ford and Chevrolet did with the Focus and Cruze, respectively. The compact sedan market in the US, let alone sedans in general, is not what it used to be. As customers flock towards an ever-growing selection of crossovers, automakers have been struggling with the sedan's future. Ford is done with it entirely (for now) in America and GM is cutting back. But not Nissan.
The redesigned 2020 Nissan Sentra has arrived and its bold styling makes an instant statement. Now with the styling language from the larger Altima and Maxima sedans, the new Sentra boasts a new platform, powertrain, and a vastly improved interior. Along with advanced safety features, connectivity options, and more interior and cargo space than before, Nissan has breathed fresh life into its Sentra.
Nissan's exterior designers went above and beyond with this one. Riding on a new platform that offers an improved stance and proportions, the 2020 Sentra is about two inches lower and two inches wider than its immediate predecessor. If you're not a fan of Nissan's current design language, then it's a kind of a shame because that edgy styling works very well here. Nissan proudly admits it took design cues from the larger Maxima, but even when downsized the styling works, perhaps even better so than on the Maxima and Altima.
The signature V-motion grille is applied nicely here, giving the Sentra a far more premium look than before. There are also thin LED headlights and a floating roof, the latter made possible by blacking out the A, B, and C-pillars. New wheel designs, colors, and even three new two-tone color combinations are other exterior highlights.
When a car looks this bold on the outside, an equally high-quality interior is in order, and Nissan delivered. It's far more upscale than before, evidenced by a stitched dashboard and three centrally-mounted air vents. Buyers have the option to select quilted leather and heated front seats. Nissan's highly regarded, NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats also return. Even the feel of the steering wheel was given specific attention.
There's an optional eight-inch floating touchscreen center display that incorporates NissanConnect and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Nissan did not provide specifics figures regarding passenger and cargo space, but by the looks of the things, all major interior dimensions have increased. Trunk space should also be competitive for the segment.
Under the hood lies a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 149 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque, a 20 and 16 percent increase, respectively, over the previous model's 1.8-liter four. The new engine is also expected to offer improved fuel economy, but official EPA testing has yet to be done. Handling was another area targeted for improvement, and it was done so thanks to a new independent rear suspension and a new rack electric power steering system.
Like all new vehicles, the 2020 Sentra is packed with advanced safety and driver assistance technologies, including Nissan Safety Shield 360 as standard. This suite of driver-assist systems includes Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Rear Automatic Braking, and High Beam Assist. Also standard are 10 airbags, Rear Door Alert, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, and Intelligent Driver Alertness.
Nissan has not released official pricing but sales are expected to get underway in late January. Pricing should not differ greatly from the outgoing 2019 Sentra, which began at $17,990.
Although Ford and Chevrolet have exited the compact sedan market, the 2020 Nissan Sentra still faces some stiff competition from the likes of the Honda Civic, Mazda 3, and Toyota Corolla. The Honda and Mazda, in particular, are excellent driver's cars on a budget, so it'll be interesting to see whether the new Sentra's improved suspension setup and the new engine will be able to effectively compete. In general, the new 2020 Nissan Sentra appears to be worlds better than the bland model it's replacing. Could it become the segment leader? Hard to say at the moment, but what's for certain is that Nissan now has something truly competitive to offer.