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 dfromsc on Friday, November 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,700overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "good to drive"
Cons: "biggest is gas mileage and add-on bluetooth"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I bought this car to replace my 2014 kia soul because of the gas mileage I was getting in it only to find out that the Sentra gets no better than my Soul. I also told them when I bought it that I wanted the Bluetooth, but they put in the add on one and its a waste of money! After a month still waiting on my money for it. I've got the '14 Sentra SR and I can guarantee after owning a '97 Sentra and a '01 Sentra and now the '14 once I get this one out of my yard I will never but another Nissan. This car has completely turned me against Nissan automobiles. I'll hopefully be shopping here soon at the Honda or Toyota lot. Don't waste your money on the new Sentra. They're not worth a dime."
6 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Mike on Tuesday, September 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun car. looks good, great size for its class!"
Cons: "Value falls to fast, CVT transmission, kills perf."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Paid 19000 for the sporty version. However, this car will not hold its value. It goes from 20000 to 13000 in one year. If you buy this car, make sure you want to keep it for the long haul, because trade value is terrible it WILL fall like a ROCK over a cliff!"
25 people out of 42 found this review helpful
By Greg41 on Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,278overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "gas mileage, looks"
Cons: "steering, suspension, interior, fun to drive,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"For one, the steering wheel on this car is completely numb. If you want to know what it feels like to hold a wooden plank instead of a steering wheel..drive the 2013 Sentra. It only gets worse from here. One of my biggest complaint with the car is the lack of self righting force in the steering wheel. And by lack....i mean complete inability for steering wheel to self center. You know, the feeling of "straight ahead" in your steering wheel while driving. This car has none. On top of that...the steering is completely over boosted at any speed. More particularly at lower. Even the slightest of touches to the steering wheel, can send the car all over the lane. For example how over boosted this car is: I once steered my Sentra going 55 mph through a moderately sharp S-curves....with 1 finger! Electric power assist :( (btw,the professional reviewer who said that 2013 Sentra has a nicely weighted steering. Needs to lose his car reviewing privileges ASAP). If you combine my before mentioned complaints together...this car become a chore to drive. Chore is one of the word i can describe this car. While driving Senta feels disconnected from the road , nervous and hard to control. On the scale of 1-10 fun to drive category, I'd give this car an 1. Maybe 2, on a good day. Moreover occasional bump steer can send the car in other lane particularly under braking ( Nice work there, Nissan engineers, I bet you guys must be proud of this car suspension geometry). Suspension is a also garbage, too. Although its nicely dampened, there's little rebound control. It feels like you've got Pogo sticks under the wheels. The interior comfort has a lot to be desired, also. There is no center console....your elbow rest on either in the cup-holders or on the safety belt buckle.Cramped cockpit doesn't help to rectify this situation. Oh...its very cramped. The seat themselves are uncomfortable,also. They offer no lumbar support and are just plain uncomfortable. Bat stool comes to mind. In the end all i have to say is that i hate this car and i cannot wait to get rid of it. If you want your car to be sporty or even decent to drive. Stay away from this Nissan contraption. You've been warned."
12 people out of 20 found this review helpful