The overlooked sedan will now demand all your attention

Nissan unveiled the new Sylphy at the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show. The new Sylphy will most likely come to our shores as the new 2020 Nissan Sentra. Nissan has been selling the Sentra in the U.S. since 2013 and it has been quite a success for the Japanese automaker. Even though the Sentra has managed to create a market for itself as a value-for-money proposition, it does not appeal to the enthusiasts or anyone looking for a little ’life’ in their car. However, the company plans to change this with the 2020 model, and we must say, it has our attention! Disclaimer: I’ll be calling this car the Nissan Sentra throughout the article and not Nissan Sylphy because we’ll be getting it with the Sentra badge in the U.S. - and partly because Sylphy sounds quite funny.

  • 2020 Nissan Sentra
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Transmission:
    CVT (Est.)
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    137 (Est.)
  • Torque @ RPM:
    130 (Est.)
  • Displacement:
    1.6 L (Est.)
  • 0-60 time:
    10 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    120 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    20400 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:

Overview

2020 Nissan Sentra
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2019 Nissan Sentra
The Sentra has been a consistent seller for Nissan and is an important product in its portfolio.

The company has managed to move over 200,000 examples of the Sentra annually in the U.S. for four consecutive years. Right now, its main problem is not to take on the rivals, but to dodge the wrecking ball in the form of SUVs and crossovers that are killing the segment altogether. We saw how Hyundai upped the game with the 2020 Sonata, and Nissan has more or less replicated the same with this new 2020 edition of the Sentra.

Nissan has definitely worked hard on this car and it looks a lot more pleasing than the outgoing model. The three-box design is now more proportionate and wears a better-looking cabin while still retaining its Japanese genes.

2020 Nissan Sentra Exterior

  • Sleek LED Headlights
  • V-Motion Grille
  • Looks largely similar to its siblings, the Altima and Versa
  • Same old alloy wheel design
  • Black strip on the rear-quarter pillar
  • Minimal chrome appliqué
  • Reversed U-shaped slim grille at the rear
left right
Up front, the 2020 Sentra wears a new face altogether. Nissan has adopted the annoying "big-grille" trend, but has managed to hide it well thanks to the signature-collar design, known as the V-motion grille, and the other elements on the front fascia.

The V-Motion grille is reminiscent of the family it belongs to, but it sits much lower and penetrates into the bumper now. This is a far better integration than the plain-Jane face of the 2019 Sentra. On some levels, the grille may even remind you of a Lexus face!

The headlamp clusters are much sleeker and the bumper has a muscular look. The 2020 Sentra features LED headlights and Daytime Running Lights as well. The creases are present on the hood as well, a couple of them integrating into the A-pillar, while one intruding into the front doors. The new rectangular fog-lamps are housed in a L-shaped cluster finished in black plastic cladding, giving the whole face a sharper look. All-in-all, the 2020 Nissan Sentra looks handsome from the front, but Nissan has failed to create a proper distinction within its portfolio. To a layman, the 2020 Nissan Sentra, the 2019 Altima, and the 2020 Versa would all look the same.

2020 Nissan Sentra
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The profile of the 2020 Sentra, just like the face, looks smart.

The body colored wing mirrors are decently sized. The wheel arches are not flared and pronounced as seen on some new sedans, thus giving it a clean look that will please all and offend none. The base trims will come with basic silver hubcap wheels, while the higher trims will feature a sportier two-tone design that is carried over from the 2019 Sentra. The roofline slopes at the rear to a certain extent, but not so much as to interfere with the headroom within the cabin. This way, Nissan has managed to give it a coupe-like look while maintaining the practicality inside. While the B-pillar is blackened out, the rear-quarter pillar wears a black-plastic strip that apparently creates a ’floating roof’ illusion. Quite a failed attempt I’d say, but it adds a lot of character and sportiness to the car nevertheless.

2020 Nissan Sentra
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The rear is comparatively simple, yet elegant.

In fact, I feel it is one of the smartest derrieres in the segment currently. The taillights are slim and long, and elongate to the profile of the 2020 Nissan Sentra. Some strong Hyundai Elantra sedan vibes there. Other than the badges, the Sentra is devoid of chrome here and I couldn’t have been any happier. The bumper comes with two reflective strips on either sides. The monotony is broken by a thin honeycomb-pattern strip at the bottom. A piano black plastic strip would have done a better job here since this one will accumulate dust that will be a pain to clean and will also tend to fade after a couple of years. Other than that, no complaints here whatsoever.

Nissan Sentra Exterior Dimensions
Overall Length 183.1 inches
Overall Width 71.4 inches
Overall Height 57 inches
Wheelbase 106.7 inches

2020 Nissan Sentra Interior

  • Premium cabin
  • Seven-inch screen in the instrument cluster
  • No dearth of space
  • Three circular air conditioning vents in the center console
  • No touchscreen system
  • Lot of storage spaces all around the cabin
left right
A refreshed cabin is exactly what the Sentra needed to keep the spark alive. Actually, scratch that. A "new" cabin is what the Sentra needed, and Nissan has done exactly the same.

As soon as you open the door, you will be left in awe with the way Nissan has designed the Sentra’s cabin! Mind you, this is a car that is priced under $20,000. Everything in here feels as though it belongs in a segment or two higher. The new flat-bottom steering wheel replaces the cluttered steering wheel of the 2019 Sentra. Don’t get me wrong; it still feel cluttered, but the placement is much better. The right hand side controls, however, have a blank area which could probably be for the optional cruise control buttons. Wait, does that mean the Sentra will be loaded with active drive assistance technology as well? Not bad for a car in this price bracket. A seven-inch TFT color screen sits in the instrument cluster between the speedometer and the tachometer that throws out standard information.

The highlight of the center console is not the new floating infotainment system, but the three circular air-conditioning vents.

Forget about them flowing out more air and keeping the cabin cool or hot, they look so much premium and elevate the whole charm of the cabin. Below these vents is the HVAC control system, controlled by knobs and buttons instead of the feature touch non-sense that some cars have adopted. If you look carefully, you’ll realize that the dash also bears the same shape as the V-Motion grille outside. Clever! Nissan has smartly managed the cabin to accommodate loads of storage spaces that could house anything from your Fanta can to an umbrella.

2020 Nissan Sentra
- image 835561
Talking about the infotainment system, the Japanese automaker has installed an 8.0-inch floating system that is not a touchscreen.

I believe Nissan committed a huge blunder by not offering a touchscreen system here. No matter how convenient knobs and buttons are, the market today demands a touchscreen system. These things play a major role when it comes to moving the car out of the showrooms. In terms of comfort, the cabin looks mighty spacious, just like its predecessor, and will still be the Sentra’s strong suit. Only the top-trim could feature seats quilted in two-tone leather. As for the safety tech, Nissan has listed these features for the Chinese Sylphy, but we see no reason as to why any of them would be skipped for the U.S.-based 2020 Sentra:

  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Blind Spot Warning
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Cross Traffic Alert
  • Intelligent Driving Alert to anticipate hazardous situations
Nissan Sentra Interior Dimensions
Front Headroom 39.4 inches
Front Shoulder Room 54.7 inches
Front Legroom 42.5 inches
Rear Headroom 36.7 inches
Rear Shoulder Room 53.9 inches
Rear Legroom 37.4 inches
Passenger Volume 95.9 cu-ft
Passenger Capacity 5

2020 Nissan Sentra Drivetrain

  • 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine
  • 137 horsepower
  • CVT and manual gearbox on offer
  • Drag coefficient of 0.26 same as the Nissan GT-R
  • Will most likely be a fuel-efficient engine
2020 Nissan Sentra
- image 835557
Nissan says it has plonked the 2020 Sentra with an updated 1.6-liter, four-cylinder HR16DE engine.

This engine has been doing duty under the hoods of multiple Nissan and Renault cars over the years, including the Nissan Versa, Kicks, Note, Dacia Lodgy, and Duster, to name a few. This is the third generation of the engine but Nissan is terming it as "all-new". Is it? We don’t think so. Nissan has not announced the power figures for this car, but the engine will most likely churn out a meager 137 horsepower; 13 more than the outgoing Sentra’s mill. A manual could still be available in the base trim, while the higher trims will be mated to a Xtronic CVT. It is generally said that a dynamic gearbox makes up for a lackluster engine, or vice ’versa’ (pun unintended). But with Nissan Sentra, both fail miserably. CVTs are not known to be pedal-to-the-metal-friendly and will guise you with its infamous rubberband effect. For the uninitiated, a rubberband effect is when you floor the pedal and see the revs rise in accordance, but the speed takes its own sweet time to increase. This ’illusion’ is a result of the lag between the rising revs and the power transmitted to the wheels. However, CVTs are considered smooth and deliver more miles per gallon. The current Sentra CVT delivers 29 miles per gallon in the city and 37 on the highway.

Nissan has not announced whether the 2020 Sentra will be migrated to the CMF-C/D architecture, or will continue to be underpinned by the same V-platform. The automaker also claims to have improved the overall driving dynamics, which were a big turn-off.

Although this is not a car that one would think of as aerodynamic, it must be noted that the 2020 Nissan Sentra boasts a drag coefficient of just 0.26. This is on par with the Nissan GT-R! The underwhelming engine will mitigate this figure, but this is something that an owner would brag about during the water cooler gossips. There is no word on the NISMO trims yet, but Nissan might bring them to the 2020 Sentra as well.

2020 Nissan Sentra Pricing

2020 Nissan Sentra
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Given the differences between the 2019 and the 2020 Sentra, it is almost certain that there will be a price hike.

However, Nissan would like to keep the price of the base trim in check to boast a cheap price sticker. So, we speculate that the higher trims of the 2020 Sentra could see a hike of up to $2,500 over its corresponding trim of the 2019 Sentra. The current Sentra starts at $17,900 and goes up to $23,200 for the non-NISMO models.

2020 Nissan Sentra Competition

Mazda 6

2018 Mazda6 Exterior
- image 748275
2018 Mazda6

Mazda has had a turnaround of sorts over the last couple of years. From boring, unimpressive aesthetics to clean, understated looks that blow our minds off everytime we look at them. And, the Mazda 6 has benefitted from the same. The subtle chrome elements, the half-shut eyes, and a rare perfectly-sized front grille make the Mazda 6 a stunner to look at. The cabin is roomy and well-finished, with hints of wood-trim and suede material in a few places. The feature-list is not very strong, but what makes it worse is the touchscreen interface. If the automaker swaps it with a better UI, the Mazda 6 could be a well-rounded package. As for the engine specs, there is enough grunt to keep your adrenaline rush-filled self happy at all times. The Mazda 6 retails from $22,000.

Mazda 6 Vital Specs
Engine 2.5-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower 186 hp
Torque 187 lb-ft
Drive Type FWD
0-60 mph 8.5 seconds
Top Speed 141 mph
Cargo Space 14.7 cu-ft
Fuel Returns (combined) 27 mpg

Read our full review on the 2018 Mazda 6.

Chevrolet Malibu

2016 Chevrolet Malibu
- image 624588

The Malibu is a smart-looking car overall, but the highlight is the Audi A7-esque derriere. Chevrolet has given it the cuts and creases in all the right places. While the seats are comfortable and there is no dearth of space in the front or the back, the cabin scream budget all around. The cabin quality, trim choices, and a plain-jane center console make things look bad. But for the tech heads, there is an eight-inch infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The engine is mated to a CVT which, surprisingly, is quite peppy. However, it is not a driver’s car whatsoever. It comes with a starting price of $22,100.

Chevrolet Malibu Vital Specs
Engine turbo 1.5-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower 163 hp
Torque 184 lb-ft
Drive Type FWD
0-60 mph 8.0 seconds
Top Speed 130 mph
Cargo Space 15.7 cu-ft
Fuel Returns (combined) 32 mpg

Read our full review on the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu.

Subaru Legacy

Old versus New: How different is the 2020 Subaru Legacy to its predecessor?
- image 820177

The Subaru Legacy deserves a spot here for many reasons, but looks is not one of them. The Legacy is as generic as a three-box design can get. It does not stand out in the crowd and looks like an uncle amidst the current crop of young cars. Step inside the cabin and you will stop caring that the car looks dull. You basically shell out your moolah to get spoilt for the space and the comfort that the Legacy offers. The mid-trim offers an eight-inch touchscreen, LED headlights, moonroof, and a host of safety features. The driving experience is not great as the Legacy is clearly an underperformer, but it is the only car in this list that comes with an all-wheel-drive setup starting from the base trim. Overall, this car will do a fairly good job of being an urban commuter, provided you don’t expect the world out of it. The Legacy comes with a starting price of $22,550.

Subaru Legacy Vital Specs
Engine 2.5-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower 175 hp
Torque 174 lb-ft
Drive Type AWD
0-60 mph 8.0 seconds
Top Speed 135 mph
Cargo Space 15 cu-ft
Fuel Returns (combined) 29 mpg

Read our full review on the 2020 Subaru Legacy.

Final Thoughts

2020 Nissan Sentra
- image 835563

The 2020 Nissan Sentra has left us mighty impressed in terms of aesthetics and cabin feel. It has not improved; it has evolved! No one would give the Nissan Sentra a second glance on the road, but once this model arrives, it will surely grab attention. The interior is absolutely fantastic as well, but my only critique here is the missing touchscreen system. Despite Nissan’s claim of deploying a new engine under the hood, a glance through the annals of history will prove that the engine will lack the pizzazz. This has not affected the sales figures till date, but Nissan would hope to grab a bigger slice of the pie with the 2020 model.

  • Leave it
    • No touchscreen! Seriously, Nissan?
    • Higher trims will be expensive
    • The underwhelming, boring CVT

Further Reading

2019 Nissan Sentra - Short Review
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Read our full review on the 2019 Nissan Sentra.

2020 Nissan Sentra
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Thanks to the Nissan Sylphy Concept We Have a Nice Preview of the 2020 Nissan Sentra

2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO High Resolution Exterior
- image 695496

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO.

2013 - 2015 Nissan Sentra High Resolution Exterior
- image 470812

Read our full review on the 2015 Nissan Sentra.

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