Auto Review: Nissan’s all-new Sentra

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Jun. 13, 2013
2013 Nissan Sentra SL - Contributed Photo

With all that has gone on with the automobile industry in the context of tough economic times, it’s important to remember that while things seemed quiet as the economy sputtered along, designers, engineers and analysts were busy at work creating the next generations of some of our most popular cars. Despite the fact that the time between initial designs and final production is shorter than ever, the design teams still have to peer into the future and try to figure out what the market will want and need a few years from now. This means that when you encounter a car like the all-new Nissan Sentra, the foundation for all the changes to this popular compact was established quite a while ago, with an eye on our future needs as cars continue to evolve at a rapid pace. Fortunately for consumers, they had a real good grasp on what we were likely to need down the road that has worked out well for us here in the “future.”

The new front-drive Sentra is larger than its predecessor by a modest measure, including nearly an inch more in wheelbase for better rear seat room. It also features a new, lightweight chassis (150 lbs. less, according to Nissan) and a new drivetrain. This consists of an 1.8-liter Inline Four with Continuously Variable Timing Control (CVTT), beehive-shaped valve springs (that Nissan claims smooth engine operation) and an ultimate output of 130 horsepower. The standard S model can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox, but the rest of the Sentras get a new Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) including our extensively equipped SL model. This drivetrain is not awe-inspiring, but certainly acceptable, and should prove to be quite frugal. Ride quality is good and handling is predictable, although there was more body lean in cornering than I would have expected. Overall, the Sentra is enjoyable to drive and the cabin remains reasonably quiet at speed, all while going a respectable distance on a gallon of fuel.

The new Sentra’s interior (especially in the SL trim level) shows just how well-equipped and roomy these thrifty rides have become. Our Sentra SL came with the optional Premium Package with such goodies as a Bose Premium audio system, a power moonroof, and on top of that, we had the Navigation and Leather Packages, making the car feature-rich and comfortable. The six-way adjustable driver’s seat can accommodate a broad variety of physiques, and the instrument array is clear and logical. NissanConnect is part of the Navigation system and includes many hands-free operations including the ability to have text messages read to you. Another great feature (standard on all Sentras, of course) is a surprisingly roomy rear seat, with good lower back support for your passengers and 60/40 fold-down seatbacks to expand the already generous 15-cubic-foot trunk.

The 2013 Nissan Sentra SL is EPA rated 30 MPG city/39 highway and has a base price of $19,760. Lavishly furnished with options, our final sticker price was $23,655.

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