Having dropped off the radar in the compact car segment over the past few years, new features and more interior room have been added to help draw attention to the all-new 2013 Sentra. But Nissan aims to get you behind the wheel with two more important updates.
|1. A 1.8L 4-cylinder makes 130-hp and 128 lb-ft of torque.
2. Combined with a CVT transmission and 150 lbs of weight reduction, the 2013 Sentra achieved 30/39 mpg (city/highway) for a combined 34 mpg.
3. New features include two new Drive Modes: Eco and Sport as well as Easy Fill Tire Alert, which notifies drivers of correct tire pressure by sounding the vehicle’s horn.
4. Pricing ranges from $15,990 to $19,760.
Targeting your sensibility and your sense of style, Nissan has improved the Sentra’s fuel economy considerably while wrapping that high-mpg engine tech in a package with premium design.
Fitted with an all-new 1.8-liter engine and matched with a new and lighter CVT (which weighs 40-lbs less than 1st generation unit), it makes 130 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with an optional CVT transmission the Sentra achieves 30 mpg city and 39 mpg hwy for a best-in-class combined 34 mpg. A fuel economy package will up the highway rating to 40 mpg, while a standard six-speed manual transmission on the base model delivers a less impressive 27 mpg city and 36 mpg hwy for a combined 30 mpg.
THE SENTRA OF ATTENTION
Nissan’s desire to bring something sophisticated-looking to the compact segment has paid off handsomely. From front to back, the new Sentra’s styling has dramatic lines and improved road charisma. Mixing noticeable styling cues from the recently refreshed Leaf, Versa and Altima, Nissan designers and engineers have gone a step further to infuse the design with the best details of higher-range vehicles like Altima and Maxima.
Key elements now setting the Sentra apart from the boxy outgoing model include a lower roof, chrome front grille and door handles, standard LED-accented headlamps and taillights, new alloy wheels and body-color mirrors. Adding to the improved look is its larger size, with more rear seat room and improved trunk space. The new compact is also longer, with improved rear passenger room and a trunk that has gained 2 cu-ft for a total of 15.1.
For those who demand an edgier look the SR model includes sport front and rear fascias, a new front grille, side skirts, a rear spoiler, and a chrome single exhaust tip finisher. It’s safe to say that the SR dressing gives the Sentra a complete flair to an already impressive makeover. Also optional with the SR is a Driver Package, which includes rear disc brakes and auto headlights. Regardless of color, including the standout Metallic Blue on our test car, it’s hard not to appreciate the Sentra’s new look, considering that its past shell was chiefly unlikable.
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CABIN CUSTOMIZATION FOR A PRICE
Extending the intentions of the outer platform to the inner lining, the Sentra’s new cabin has better standard front bucket seats, a communal dash and roominess exceeding expectations. It’s been newly refined with either cloth or leather trimmings, sliver accents, and even available maple wood. Standard creature comforts include power windows, power door lock and remote keyless entry.
Cloth comes standard across the board with an optional Leather Package of $1,030 solely for the SL model; which is unfortunate as leather would be an attractive combo with the SR’s personality. Heated front seats and dual-zone climate control are also only optioned for the SL model.
Easily seating five passengers, Nissan boasts that the new Sentra has the largest rear seat legroom in its class with an inch more than the top-selling Corolla, with overall cabin volume above the Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus.
Furthermore, the Sentra’s cabin ergonomics and onboard technology are aesthetically fashionable yet still basic – as is expected of this class. Depending on taste and needs, adding NissanConnect is a decent option with good navigation and a new Point of Interest feature powered by Google Maps.
As per the audio components, for the first time ever, Nissan is affording the Sentra an optional premium audio system incorporating Bose audio. Other optional audio gadgetry includes Pandora radio and Bluetooth streaming, voice recognition text messaging and response, via steering wheel audio controls and more.
Tech and gadget lovers will appreciate the new Navigation Package, priced at an extra $650 incorporating a smartphone interface and more. Available as on option in the SV, SR and SL, it includes a 5.8-inch color touch-screen monitor, voice recognition, POIs powered by Google, Google’s Send-to-Car feature, Pandora radio capability, Bluetooth, hands-free text messaging and a rear view monitor. Our SR tester included both the Driver Package (add $1,000) and Premium Package (add another $1,000) consisting of push button ignition, Bluetooth, USB connection, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power sliding glass moonroof, auto-dimming inside mirror with electronic compass, and the newly added Bose 8-speaker audio system. The Premium package is also optional for the SV and SL models.
While affordably priced, make no mistake; in order to really obtain desired features for the Sentra, it will require some extra spending.
DRIVING STYLE BY DESIGN
Combining a new light-weight platform with the 1.8-liter engine makes for a smooth and efficient package, though the CVT gear roar outmatches any minor exhaust note.
The Sentra has also received an upgraded power-steering system, which adjusts to the vehicle speed. Hardly a noticeable feature during our road test, that’s a good thing, with a natural feel and directional control still very much in the hands of the driver.
New for 2013 are Drive Mode functions Eco and Sport. At the push of a button (one for each mode, located to the left of the steering wheel), the drive modes are simple to use and make a difference in both the level of engagement behind the wheel as well as in fuel consumption. We mixed it up from normal to Sport, especially testing up and around the streets of San Francisco. The Sport Mode proved to be the more exciting feel, even if the only modification was adjusting the throttle response and transmission. When crossing into quieter territory and longer stretches of straight highways, flipping on Eco Mode felt right for a relaxed and fuel-efficient drive.
Though the Eco mode reduces the air conditioning draw on the engine, there’s no added temperature discomfort within the cabin though throttle power is reduced, dulling the sensation of the drive to the likeness of a hybrid.
GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
Pricing for 2013 has decreased by $440, affording consumers more for less. The base S model with 6-speed manual transmission or CVT hits the market with standard features such as LED accent lighting, power doors/windows and Drive Modes with the bargain starting price of $15,990. For an extra $400, and solely available to S and SV models is the FE+ designation incorporating a unique rear spoiler, under body aerodynamics and low rolling resistance tires – all of which add up to an extra mile per gallon on the highway.
Consumers looking for a slight upgrade will obtain the aforementioned features (sans FE+ details) along with steering wheel controls, premium cloth seating and chrome accents, all showcasing the trimming of the SV model priced $17,970.
Our tester was the unmissable and sporty SR, offered at $18,870 and composed of bigger wheels, sporty body-moldings and a sport silver interior trim. For the conservative consumer still looking for a premium experience at an affordable cost, the SL model at $19,760 perfects the Sentra with markers in the side mirrors, dual zone climate control, wood-tone interior trim and much more.
Added space and tech features make the 2013 Sentra more than just another compact sedan, while the unique Drive Modes really help customize the driving experience to suit a much larger customer base. In particular, the Sport mode helps eliminate some of the complaints associated with a CVT transmission – though not the sound.
Appealing to both your left and right brain, the 2013 Sentra helps you save money and fuel in a package that makes picking it over the current segment leaders all the more attractive.