Grown-up styling. The 2020 Nissan Sentra has been redesigned, with the only thing that has been carried over is the name. The most obvious change is a sportier look that looks similar to what you’ll find on the automaker's other sedans, like the Nissan Altima and Nissan Maxima.

We happen to like the changes – a lot. The large grille, slim headlights, and ridged hood help the Sentra ditch its economy roots to look like something upscale and sporty. A Sentra looking sporty? We know, we know, it’s hard to get over, but the 2020 model really does look so much better than before. Further helping its more athletic design is an available black roof option.

On the inside, the Sentra continues to expand well past the model’s economy car history. The compact sedan adopts a look that feels more high end with switchgear and gauges that put the driver first. The sweeping dashboard is a handsome touch, as are the circular vents and uncluttered controls for the HVAC system. Available quilted leather upholstery also raises the bar.

Loads of tech and safety features. The Sentra’s taken a major step up when it comes to tech features. Even the base trim now comes packed with a lot of the latest goodies. A 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, a 4.2-inch screen in the instrument cluster, and one USB port are standard.

A variety of driver-assist safety features are standard, as well. These include forward collision warning, front and rear automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high beams, and a driver attention monitor.

Drivers willing to climb up the Sentra’ ladder will find even more tech features. Our favorites include the 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a Bose audio system, two more USB ports, and adaptive cruise control. For a compact vehicle, these are high-tech features.

Nissan Sentra

Leaving budget cars in the past. Previously, the Sentra felt like a budget car on the inside. Lackluster materials, uncomfortable seats, and hard plastics made it feel uncomfortable and low rent. That’s not the case with the 2020 model.

Even the base Sentra feels above its budget-car price with comfortable cloth bucket seats, spacious seating for all passengers, and good sight lines. Better materials are found throughout the cabin, while high-quality trim and contrast stitching help it feel more upscale.

More power, decent fuel economy. Another change for the 2020 model year is the addition of a new engine. Power now comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 149 horsepower paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

While the engine isn’t the most powerful motor in the class, it has plenty of grunt for daily use. Our gripes lie with the CVT. The transmission is slow to respond, especially if you slam the throttle in an attempt to merge or pass.

Despite coming with a more powerful engine than last year, the Sentra is more fuel efficient. The EPA rates it at 29 miles per gallon city, 39 mpg highway, and 33 combined. While better than before, this still puts it behind options like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Hyundai Elantra.

Final thoughts. In every way imaginable, the 2020 Nissan Sentra is a better car than before. It has more tech features, standard safety features, style, and upgraded materials that help it stand out in its class.

Our main issues with the Sentra have to do with performance. The car, mainly because of its CVT, feels sluggish around the city and on the highway. It also has a stiff ride compared to other compact cars.

If you’re looking for a really upscale compact car, we recommend taking a look at the Mazda Mazda3. It’s one of the few compact cars that’s available with all-wheel drive and has a much more upscale design than the Sentra. It also comes with a more powerful engine. The Civic is another one of our favorite compact vehicles. It’s available in multiple body styles, offers punchy engines, and is a great value option.

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