Overview

Overview

The redesigned 2013 Nissan Sentra compact sedan arrives in the thick of a field brimming with hungry competitors. Though its pluses include roomy and refined interior, good fuel economy, smooth and comfortable ride, nice infotainment features and a huge trunk, other small sedans offer as much, if not more. Still, the 2013 Sentra is one of the least-expensive compact sedans in the market, attracting budget-minded consumers who don't want the look or feel of a cheap ride.

What Experts Think

Despite its all-new design inside and out, the 2013 Nissan Sentra receives mixed reviews from the automotive press. While the compact sedan is still one of the lowest-priced vehicles in its class, even fully loaded, auto critics note there are some hits as well as some misses with the newest-generation Sentra.

"Thanks to improved fuel economy, a welcoming cabin and enhanced infotainment features, the 2013 Nissan Sentra becomes a much more desirable choice in the small sedan class." (Edmunds)

Consumer Guide points out some glaring deficiencies in the all-new Sentra, including that it "is slow, doesn't handle exceptionally well, and is extremely noisy." The publication notes that the car's features are "more than overshadowed by its shortcomings," making it hard to recommend.

Cars.com, in a review, said that "Nissan played it safe with the new Sentra, which leapfrogged competitors in some aspects but only matched them in others."

Car and Driver editors agree, commenting: "Scratch the surface a bit, and a bevy of dynamic shortcomings reveal that the Sentra is still an economy car."

Automobile Magazine checks out the new Sentra and says that it "feels more like a baby Altima than an improved 2012 Sentra, which is a good thing."

Over at Road and Track, meanwhile, editors note that the Sentra is right in the thick of a crowded field of inexpensive compact sedans. "Better than some, though not as dynamic as others, the new Sentra should find plenty of buyers who want an economical sedan, minus the look and feel of an economy car."

Motor Trend editors muse that the Sentra's interior is a "nice place to spend some time," noting further that the materials are "top-notch for the class, and the design, like the exterior, is clean, if inoffensive."

Consumer Reports notes that the Sentra is "underpowered and is obnoxiously loud." Further, editors say the ride "seems compliant at first," becoming "jumpy and abrupt" over bumpy pavement. Editors like that the Sentra looks like "a mini Altima."

"The look is substantial and mature, the interior is refined in look and feel, and from front to trunk it's downright roomy." (Kelley Blue Book)

What Owners Say

With so much variance in the automotive press about the 2013 Nissan Sentra, it might be expected that owners would voice similar views. This all depends on the buyer, it appears, as those looking for economical transportation, a commuter car, an extra vehicle for teens, and more for the money are generally quite positive in their comments on review sites.

Typical postings highlight the Sentra's great gas mileage, sharp-looking exterior, new tech, a very comfortable ride as well as comfortable interior and terrific price. The most frequent comment and headline in owner postings centered on the 2013 Sentra being a great vehicle for the price.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some owners complain about slow acceleration, spotty reliability, bad ride,  lack of storage compartments, and that the center console is too far back for resting the arm. One owner didn't like that it required two separate packages to get Bluetooth, XM Satellite Radio, rearview camera and navigation.

Model/Trim Lineup

The 2013 Nissan Sentra compact sedan is available in base S. high-volume SV, the sport-themed SR, and the top-of-the-line SL trims. The S and SV have available FE+ versions that maximize fuel economy.

The base S is equipped with 16-inch steel wheels, a trip computer, and a four-speaker sound system with CD player and auxiliary audio jack and a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat. All models have the following features standard: air conditioning, remote keyless entry, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, and split-folding rear seat backs.

Both the FE+ S and SV trims have low-rolling resistance tires, a rear spoiler and underbody aerodynamic deflectors to increase fuel economy.

Moving up to the SV means the inclusion of a six-speaker audio system, steering-wheel audio controls, cruise control, and premium cloth upholstery. The sporty SR, meanwhile, gets unique exterior trim and wheels.

The uplevel SL adds unique 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, heated exterior mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, wood-tone accents, and keyless entry with push-button engine start, satellite radio, USB port, and Bluetooth.

Buyers of the SV and SR can equip their vehicles with many of the SL's standard features by selecting various option packages. Four-wheel disc brakes are optional on SR and SL; leather upholstery is available on the SL, and a navigation system with rearview camera is available on all except the S trim.

Performance

Among the automotive press, many note the lack of engine diversity in the 2013 Nissan Sentra lineup. Only a single powerplant is available, a new 190-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Most mention the 10-horsepower decrease from the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that powered the 2007 through 2012 Sentra. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the Sentra S, while a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional on the S and standard on all other models, even the FE+.

A number of auto writers comment that the steering lacks "feel," and acceleration is "numb." This echoes what some consumers had to say about the anemic acceleration, although others weren't so harsh.

All 2013 Sentra models are front-wheel drive.

Fuel economy for manual-equipped Sentra S is 27 mpg city/36 mpg highway. Models with the CVT transmission generally get 30 mpg city/39 mpg highway/34 mpg combined, while the S and S and SV FE+ enjoy a 1 mpg boost in highway fuel economy to 40 mpg.

Interior

Most auto critics applaud the redesigned 2013 Nissan Sentra for its soft, cushy and spacious front seats and rear-seat legroom that is now among the best in the class. The reason is an additional 0.6 inch to the wheelbase and an overall length that is 2.3 inches more, which contributes to nearly three more inches of legroom than the previous model. That said, however, the seats lack any lateral support, complain testers. Spend any length of time on them, and the result is likely to be less than enjoyable.

Taller drivers can generally find a more comfortable driving position thanks to the standard tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. But the height-adjustable seats aren't accommodating in headroom for some tall drivers, especially with the Sentra outfitted with a sunroof.

What really excites reviewers, however, is the overall refinement in the interior of the Sentra, one that some note would seem more at home in an Infiniti. This is particularly noticeable in the SL trim, with its soft-touch materials, wood-tone accents, and available leather upholstery.

Controls are nicely arranged and some reviewers mention the high usability of the NissanConnect enhanced electronics interface, noting the capability to search the Internet, stream Bluetooth or Pandora audio, her and compose text messages hands-free by using the Bluetooth connection on their cell phones.

As for storage capacity, most reviewers find it to be generous for the class, at 15.1 cubic feet. Many note this is comparable to what midsize sedans typically offer.

Safety & Reliability

The 2013 Nissan Sentra comes with a full complement of standard safety features, including front-seat airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, active front head restraints, antilock brakes and stability control. Most Sentra models have rear drum brakes, while rear disc brakes are optional.

In government crash testing, the 2013 Sentra achieved an overall four out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Within that four-star overall rating is four stars each for total frontal impact protection and rollover protection and five stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has only tested the 2013 Nissan Sentra in moderate overlap front tests, giving it the top score of "Good."

In terms of reliability, the 2013 Nissan Sentra earns a three-circle rating from the J.D. Power Predicted Reliability rating. This means the new Sentra is "About Average" in reliability.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Sedan - FWD
S 4dr Sedan I4 Manual S 4 Cylinder FWD 15990
S 4dr Sedan I4 CVT S 4 Cylinder FWD 16590
FE+ S 4dr Sedan I4 CVT FE+ S 4 Cylinder FWD 16990
SV 4dr Sedan I4 CVT SV 4 Cylinder FWD 17390
FE+ SV 4dr Sedan I4 CVT FE+ SV 4 Cylinder FWD 17790
SR 4dr Sedan I4 CVT SR 4 Cylinder FWD 18690
SL 4dr Sedan I4 CVT SL 4 Cylinder FWD 19590

Comparison of 2013 Nissan Sentra with Similar Cars

2013 Nissan Sentra MSRP Invoice
2013 Nissan Sentra $15,990 $15,423
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2013 Toyota Corolla $16,230 $15,338 2013 Nissan Sentra VS 2013 Toyota Corolla
2013 Hyundai Elantra $16,695 $16,208 2013 Nissan Sentra VS 2013 Hyundai Elantra
2013 Ford Focus $16,200 $15,269 2013 Nissan Sentra VS 2013 Ford Focus
2013 Chevrolet Cruze $17,130 $16,530 2013 Nissan Sentra VS 2013 Chevrolet Cruze
2013 Volkswagen Jetta $15,545 $14,923 2013 Nissan Sentra VS 2013 Volkswagen Jetta

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2013 Nissan Sentra ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2013 Nissan Sentra rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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