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November 28, 2012

The 2013 Nissan Sentra Gets Style, Content and Performance Makeover

2013 Nissan Sentra: With a sleeker profile, lighter footprint and a more upscale interior, the 2013 Nissan Sentra has been completely redesigned for this model year – and it could give dominant players in this category a run for their money. Boasting up to 40 mpg on the highway, this compact sedan also answers the continued demand for fuel efficiency in an era of continually-rising gas prices. On sale now, starting at $15,990, this is Nissan’s seventh generation of this popular, value-priced model.

SENTRA-2833A gleaming chrome-framed grille defines the front end, which is capped by arrow-point headlamps accented with LED bulbs lined up dot-to-dot under the larger lights. A lowered beltline and more aerodynamically shaped roofline cut a sophisticated profile; the rear end is a bit chunky and low-slung, with wraparound taillamps and a liftgate with an integrated spoiler (on some trims). Chrome also accents the door handles and windows. Compared to the previous version, the 2013 Sentra has a longer wheelbase but shorter front overhang (and longer rear overhang), for a modern sports sedan look; it is five percent lighter and its drag coefficient is 0.29, down from 0.34 last year. Sixteen-inch wheels and tires are standard; 17-inch wheels are available, as are a few other exterior premium features, such as integrated rearview mirror turn signals.

SENTRA-3481Inside, a more roomy and comfortable cabin is defined by soft-touch panels and easy-to-read gauges. The center stack flows seamlessly into the console area, where the shift lever and handbrake are easy to reach. Front seats include 6-way driver- and 4-way passenger-side seat adjustments, and rear seats – which boast much-improved legroom over the previous model – split 60/40 for trunk access. Overall, interior room has increased, including 2.0 cubic feet of additional trunk space. Standard comfort and convenience features include a padded armrest and cupholders, rear seat armrest with cupholders, air conditioning, tilt and telescopic steering column, power windows and doors with two auxiliary 12-volt power outlets, remote keyless entry and remote trunk and fuel-filler door releases. The base-level stereo is a AM/FM/CD with 4 speakers, but higher end options include 6-speaker kits with a 5.8-inch color display and an 8-speaker Bose system. Although an auxiliary audio jack is standard, iPod connectivity is not. Nissan also offers its info/nav/tainment system, NissanConnect, as an option – it includes Bluetooth connectivity, Pandora radio streaming access and hands-free text messaging. The Sentra is powered by a new 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 130 horsepower and 128 lb.-ft. of torque. Base models are paired with a 6-speed manual transmission, while all other models in the lineup get an updated Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT); both come with Normal. Sport and Eco modes. Fuel economy is up to thirteen percent improved rated at 30 mpg in the city, 39 mpg on the highway but Nissan says the special-edition Sentra FE+ version can get 40 mpg. It has a 415-mile driving range. Independent front suspension with stabilizer bar and torsion beam rear axle with integrated stabilizer bar make up the compact car’s suspension.

SENTRA-2019Brakes are power-assisted vented front disc/rear drum with 4-wheel discs available; ABS is standard as is and vehicle-speed-sensitive electric power steering. We drove the new Sentra on a route from San Francisco to Napa Valley over a course of 150 miles. Nissan designed its latest model to “look and feel a class above” its competitive segment in this market which includes the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Chevy Cruze. In fact, there are a few premium features and sporty handling characteristics that are appealing. While there are some notable exterior features, like Sentra’s front grille with standard headlights illuminated by LED accents and LED taillights, its overall styling is not head-turning. The new look continues inside with higher-quality interior design materials not usually found in compact vehicles, including soft-touch instrument panel and front door armrests, available leather-appointed seating and available Maple wood-tone trim. And, despite its commuter-runabout size, it feels slightly larger, with plenty of elbow room for two passengers in front, with a large glove box and a few cubbies for stowage. It will best seat two rear riders along with small packages and gear, as there is good legroom, but three would be tight and best for only short distances, as this 5-passenger car is a tad narrow in girth. On the appealing list is Sentra’s handling on the road, especially along winding two-lanes with sharp corners. We liked the sport-feel to the suspension and found the steering carves well, especially when we had an accident-avoidance maneuver. Niggling complaints were the intrusion of noise from under the hood with hard throttle, as well as some road noise that was a result of the vehicle’s low-rolling resistance tires.

SENTRA-2758The 2013 Nissan Sentra lineup includes S, FE+ S, SV, FE+ SV, SR and SL trim levels; all have the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder motor and CVT except Sentra S, which can be ordered with either the CVT (starts at $17,260) or the 6-speed manual transmission ($15,990). Sentra S buyers get a four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, air conditioning, power windows and locks and remote keyless entry. The SE+S models come with the CVT and are priced at $17,660. SV models ($17,970) add cruise control, two additional speakers, illuminated steering wheel audio controls, vehicle security system and premium cloth seating and door trim. The FE+SV models get the CVT and are priced at $18, 370. The Sentra SR ($18,870)adds a sportier appearance, with 17-inch forked 5-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels, modified grille and badging, lower body side sill extensions, rear spoiler with integrated LED brake light, fog lights and chrome exhaust tip finisher. Inside, the Sentra SR has sport silver interior trim, premium sport cloth seats and driver's seatback pocket. The top-of-the-line Sentra SL ($---,760)adds 17-inch split 7-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels, automatic headlights, fog lights, heated outside mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, push button ignition, Bluetooth, 6-speaker audio system with 5.8-inch display, and Sirius XM Satellite Radio. Additional Sentra SL equipment includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever knob, maple wood-tone trim, dual-zone automatic climate control and a tire pressure monitoring system with in-dash alerts. Notable options include the Nissan Connect infotainment and navigation system with hands-free text messaging, Bose audio system, Pandora radio capability, streaming audio via a Bluetooth hands-free system, iPod connectivity, leather seats, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic with 8 speakers, power sliding glass moonroof and RearView Monitor.

Sue Mead


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