By Jason Allan
KBB Expert Rating: 7.6
Completely redesigned for 2013, the excellent new Nissan Sentra feels less like a compact car and more like a downsized mid-size sedan. The look is substantial and mature, the interior is refined in look and feel, and from front to trunk it's downright roomy. The growing number of tech-dependent drivers will appreciate a robust and intuitive NissanConnect infotainment package with cool Google, Pandora and text messaging features, and anyone who hasn't won the free-gas-for-life lottery will appreciate the Sentra's class-leading combined city/highway fuel economy of 34 mpg. And while it's neither as fun to drive as a Mazda3, nor as quiet and comfortable as a Chevy Cruze, the new Nissan Sentra rides and handles better than most buyers need it to.
Whether you're looking for style, refinement, room, fuel economy or just some cool in-cabin technology, you'll find the 2013 Nissan Sentra worth your time, scoring high marks on all fronts.
The 2013 Nissan Sentra is as new as new gets. In addition to all the improvements you can see and touch, the Sentra is built on a new, lighter platform and driven by a new engine and transmission setup.
Driving Impressions Even though it rides, handles and responds very well, how the new Sentra drives is one of the least remarkable things about it. The uninitiated might need some time getting...used to the continuously variable transmission (CVT) – a gearless automatic – but Nissan is doing CVT better than anyone and in some applications we're starting to prefer it to a traditional automatic. The engine's 130-horsepower rating is at the low end of the segment, but the flexible CVT compensates some. It doesn't make the car any faster, but the new Sentra includes a 3-mode drive selector with Eco, Normal and Sport modes to maximize economy or responsiveness. Electric power steering continues to improve across the industry, and the Sentra offers better steering feel than the Hyundai Elantra, for instance. Highway ride is right in line with what we expect from a good compact sedan nowadays, and the front seats are comfortable for at least a couple of hours (the longest stretch we've tested them to this point).
You can send directions from your computer to your Sentra via Google. You can listen to Pandora Internet radio. You can have your text messages read to you, and send replies without taking your hands off the wheel. How great is the future?
EASY FILL TIRE ALERT
Keeping your tires inflated is key to maximizing fuel economy, and Nissan's new system makes it really easy. Just start filling and the car will give a quick honk of the horn when the tire reaches the recommended pressure.
High-quality materials, electroluminescent gauges and a tasteful, contoured design help create what is arguably the finest interior in all of Compactsedanland. The rear seating area is another inside highlight, offering backseat drivers more legroom than some of the smaller mid-size sedans, along with similarly generous headroom. The theme continues all the way back into one of the category's biggest trunks. The new Sentra is roomy enough, in fact, that it's one of a handful of compact sedans classified as mid-size by the EPA.Exterior
Softly sculpted sheet metal, substantial proportions and shiny-object LED headlight accents and taillights all combine to give the 2013 Nissan Sentra class-above parking lot presence. All models feature a chrome-finish grille, chrome-finish door handles and body-color painted side mirrors, while up-level versions feature alloy wheels, fog lights and side-mirror-integrated turn signals. The sportier-looking but similarly tuned Sentra SR includes a rear spoiler, chrome exhaust tip finisher, unique 17-inch alloy wheels, and other sporty add-ons all around.
The base-model 2013 Nissan Sentra S has a starting sticker price of $16,780 with the 6-speed manual transmission, $18,050 with the automatic transmission. For those prices you get a Sentra with air conditioning, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/Aux audio system, electroluminescent gauges, basic cloth seats, a 4-way adjustable steering wheel, 16-inch covered steel wheels, and a modern complement of active and passive safety features including six airbags and electronic stability and traction controls.
A fully loaded 2013 Nissan Sentra SL tops out in the $23,000 range with some equipment you couldn't have had for $100,000 just a few years ago. In addition to a moonroof, leather seats (heated fronts), more stylish 17-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control and automatic headlights, a fully optioned Sentra includes keyless entry and push-button start, a backup camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, USB/iPod integration, satellite radio, an 8-speaker Bose audio system and NissanConnect with Navigation featuring a 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with all the Google, Pandora and texting goodness outlined above.
The Sentra's 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine is among the least powerful in the segment, but we can attest that it moves at least two adults up to highway speeds just fine. With four adults, though, highway merging might require a bit more planning. In addition to the CVT there's a 6-speed manual transmission available, but only on the base model and it delivers about 50 fewer miles per tankful. The FE+ grades achieve one more highway mile per gallon with some aerodynamic adds and low-rolling-resistance tires, but it's mostly a marketing ploy (40 mpg is much sexier than 39) and not worth the extra $400. Even if you drove exclusively on the highway, the FE+ package would save you just $50 and 10 gallons per year (at $5/gallon, 15,000 miles/year).
130 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (124 horsepower w/CA emissions)
128 lb-ft of torque @ 3,600 rpm (125 lb-ft w/CA emissions)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/36 mpg (manual), 30/39 mpg (automatic), 30/40 (automatic w/FE+ trim)
Ranging from $16,780 to more than $23,000, the 2013 Nissan Sentra is priced in line with its competitors on a features-per-dollar basis, between the Ford Focus at the high end and the Hyundai Elantra at the low end. Looking ahead, we expect the new Sentra to hold its value better than its predecessor and better than the category average. The 2013 Nissan Sentra shouldn't cost you significantly more or less than its competitors in the long run, but it qualifies as a solid value because it feels like a more substantial, more refined car than many of the others.
By gbbg (TX) on Thursday, December 05, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,126overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, interior, tech, space, mpg"
Cons: "interior material quality, acceleration, engine"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Driving profile: 10mi each way, 8 on freeway/2 traffic My wife loved this car when I showed it to her and got a loaded SV model. With the amount we paid and the features (bluetooth, keyless start, nav and rear-cam) we got, I was more than happy. The biggest complaint people had was the handling and steering feel, which I didn't mind (I hardly knew what it felt like, compared to my Mitsubishi Galant). Most importantly, the wife was happy. She drove for the longest time and we were consistently getting 34-35mpg in mixed conditions driving. Then we moved and I started driving the car. In Dallas, the mpg now is 29-32. We stick to Shell/Exxon most of the time. The car is roomy and with folding rear seats that's even more roomier! One caveat, the opening behind the seat is somewhat narrow contrary to the humongous boot space and folded seat space available so acts as a constriction. The 55" Tv box couldn't fit just because of that arc behind seats (no that it was a brilliant idea in the first place to use the car for moving the TV). The ride is comfortable and engine noise is pretty much minimal when cruising. It can, however, moan and whine when accelerating and you'll feel the pain of the car. Accelerating onto ramps, from stops can be a bit boring and ... yawn. Interior If you're looking for a decent car with good gas mileage and roomy interiors and don't feel the need to have a race car, I'd be a 9/10. But otherwise, it's 7.5."
By AL (CA) on Wednesday, November 27, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice looking, lots of features"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Purchased the Nissan Sentra SR brand new in August, by October the transmission went out. Took to the dealer to replace took about 3 weeks for Nissan to ship a new one, now that it is installed , car doesn't seem to be running correct, very jerky, tach jumps up and down while driving, this car doesn't even have 3000 miles yet and I already want to get rid of it. Maybe I just got a bad one, my advice, stay away from the Sentra"
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By PAFBABS (CA) on Sunday, November 03, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 400overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Exterior looks of SR-Trim and Gas-Efficieny"
Cons: "None whatsoever"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love this car.It has a very smooth ride at highway-speeds.A lot roomier than I though it was,considering it's a compact-car.Great looks overall of a SR-trim,gas-efficient and comfortable.This vehicle serves exactly what it's for and that is gas-efficiency,smooth-ride and roominess.It's not a Corvette,so don't expect high-performance from it and it would not be fair either."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Nabil (CA) on Thursday, October 17, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "cheap price"
Cons: "Design flaws that Nissan won't fix"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I owned a 2011 Sentra and loved it. So I did not hesitate to buy the 2013 model as the warranty was about to run out on my 2011 Sentra and the dealer offered me a decent trade in price. Big mistake! A few days after getting the car, I started to notice poor workmanship all over the car. The main flaw are the windshield wipers which you cannot fold open to clean the windshield since the wiper hinges are underneath the hood, pretty flagrant design flaw. To add insult to injury, the dealer and Nissan USA are aware of this flaw and refuse to fix it. I was a big fan of the Sentra for its good value, this will be my last purchase from Nissan and I would not recommend this car to anyone."
4 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Jas (GA) on Thursday, October 10, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "very quiet, comforable, maximum fuel ecomony"
Cons: "no ash-tray ,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have a Nissan Sentra SR, purchased straight out of the Nissan Dealership showroom. I must say this car is incredibly quiet and is one of the smoothest rides I have ever had - it isn't a Pure Drive car for nothing. It handles like a pro, and its three different settings to eco, sport, and normal makes sure I get as much fuel economy as I want; whether its getting to work on time or diving in heavy traffic. While the black interior does make it a bit difficult to keep clean, anyone can spend a dollar or two making sure its vacuumed out once a week and forces you to keep the value of the car up to par. I highly recommend it to anyone, it only costs me 25-29 dollars to fill it up at a nearby gas station and that tank of gas can last me up to the middle of the next week if driven completely in eco. Its very safe and reliable, especially for driving long distances. Highly recommended ++++"
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Chill (TX) on Wednesday, September 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Cons: "this is junk"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Purchased 2012 Sentra SR w/300 miles bank repo..on 11/12...since then on start ups and continues today..loud engine knocking..took it to 3 dealers..all stuck to their same story..unable to duplicate..even though they know Nissan has an issue with this engine..gear shifter replaced..rattled so loud..rear main engine seal leaking..dealer tore down transmission, front axle,flywheel and all components to replace a rear main oil seal that was leaking..just freaking great..this was at 7000 miles..now I have small oil leaks on my driveway that Nissan can't seem to find...plus they left the engine dirty ...it was spotless until they tore it down.. Nissan corportation refused to acept the fact the have a defect in the loud knocking coming from the engine and will not even attempt to make it good. My advice stay away from Nissan junk....."
1 person out of 12 found this review helpful