Nissan’s compact sedan gets a much-needed overhaul.

The very first Nissan Sentra debuted in the U.S. in 1982. And in the compact sedan's 37 years on sale in the States, the company has delivered more than six million units, making it one of the brand's most successful vehicles ever. Full stop. But as the market evolves, so too must the company's best-selling American sedan. For 2020, Nissan is giving the Sentra sedan a much-needed modern makeover, both inside and out.

Familiar Face, New Engine

The 2020 Nissan Sentra's visual connections to the larger Altima and Maxima sedans, as well as crossovers like the Kicks and Rogue, are obvious. The compact wears the same V-Motion family grille, slim LED headlights (optional), and floating roof found elsewhere in the Nissan lineup. Opt for the range-topping SR trim line and the Sentra gains a sport-style rear spoiler, black-painted side mirrors, larger 18-inch alloy wheels, and a darkened chrome treatment on the grille. 

Sentra buyers can choose from eight single-tone color options: Electric Blue, Brilliant Silver Metallic, Gun Metallic, Super Black, Aspen White, Fresh Powder, Rosewood Metallic, and Scarlet Ember. But there are also three two-tone paint options available, as well: Super Black/Gun Metallic, Super Black/Aspen White, and Super Black/Monarch Orange.

2020 Nissan Sentra
2020 Nissan Sentra
2020 Nissan Sentra

Underneath the Sentra's attractive sheet metal and shiny paint is a new platform that helps reduce the car's ride height by 2.2 inches and extend the width by 2.0 inches. The 2020 Nissan Sentra has a more prominent stance and better proportions than any version before it. And with upgrades to door, window, and body sealing, Nissan notes a quieter ride, as well.

Hiding underhood of the 2020 Sentra is a more powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Replacing the outgoing 1.8-liter, the Sentra's new engine pumps out 149 horsepower (111 kilowatts) and 145 pound-feet (197 Newton-meters) of torque. That's an improvement of 20 percent and 16 percent over the outgoing model, respectively. The four-cylinder engine comes paired to an “Xtronic” continuously variable transmission. Nissan says gas mileage does improve but doesn't provide any official figures yet.

Safer, Tech-Focused Cabin

Upgrades to the interior of the 2020 Sentra are similar to what we've seen on other Nissan products. There's more attention to detail and better materials; chrome detailing, contrast seat stitching, and a cleaner dash layout improve the overall ergonomics. There's even a leather trim option and the availability of Nissan's signature "Zero Gravity" seats.

2020 Nissan Sentra
2020 Nissan Sentra

A 7.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and hands-free texting, as well as a 4.2-inch digital instrument cluster, come standard on the new Sentra. SV grades and higher get a larger 8.0-inch screen with CarPlay and Android Auto – but it won't require upgrading to get Nissan's latest safety equipment.

Nissan Safety Shield 360 comes standard on all Sentra trims. The suite includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, high-beam assist, and automatic rear braking.

Making The Grade

The Nissan Sentra comes in just three grades (or, trims) for 2020: S, SV, and SR. The base Sentra S gets standard 16-inch wheels, remote entry, keyless start… and that's about it. Moving up to the SV model gets you 16-inch aluminum alloys with 205/60R16 all-season tires, the larger 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, dual-zone climate control, and cruise control with stop-and-go technology. 

Gallery: 2020 Nissan Sentra

At the top of the range is the SR model. The sporty Sentra sheds the standard 16-inch rims for larger 18-inch units and thicker 215/45R18 tires, gets a darkened V-Motion grille, standard LED headlights, running lights, and fog lights, and a sport cloth interior with orange accent stitching. The 2020 Nissan Sentra doesn't have a price yet. But, the sedan goes on sale early in 2020, so we should get official pricing details in the next few weeks.