The compact segment’s new Sentra of attention
by Richard Cazeau
Having dropped off the radar in the compact car segment over the past few years, new features and more interior room have been added to help draw attention to the all-new 2013 Sentra. But Nissan aims to get you behind the wheel with two more important updates.
Targeting your sensibility and your sense of style, Nissan has improved the Sentra’s fuel economy considerably while wrapping that high-mpg engine tech in a package with premium design.
Fitted with an all-new 1.8-liter engine and matched with a new and lighter CVT (which weighs 40-lbs less than 1st generation unit), it makes 130 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with an optional CVT transmission the Sentra achieves 30 mpg city and 39 mpg hwy for a best-in-class combined 34 mpg. A fuel economy package will up the highway rating to 40 mpg, while a standard six-speed manual transmission on the base model delivers a less impressive 27 mpg city and 36 mpg hwy for a combined 30 mpg.
THE SENTRA OF ATTENTION
Nissan’s desire to bring something sophisticated-looking to the compact segment has paid off handsomely. From front to back, the new Sentra’s styling has dramatic lines and improved road charisma. Mixing noticeable styling cues from the recently refreshed Leaf, Versa and Altima, Nissan designers and engineers have gone a step further to infuse the design with the best details of higher-range vehicles like Altima and Maxima.
Key elements now setting the Sentra apart from the boxy outgoing model include a lower roof, chrome front grille and door handles, standard LED-accented headlamps and taillights, new alloy wheels and body-color mirrors. Adding to the improved look is its larger size, with more rear seat room and improved trunk space. The new compact is also longer, with improved rear passenger room and a trunk that has gained 2 cu-ft for a total of 15.1.
For those who demand an edgier look the SR model includes sport front and rear fascias, a new front grille, side skirts, a rear spoiler, and a chrome single exhaust tip finisher. It’s safe to say that the SR dressing gives the Sentra a complete flair to an already impressive makeover. Also optional with the SR is a Driver Package, which includes rear disc brakes and auto headlights. Regardless of color, including the standout Metallic Blue on our test car, it’s hard not to appreciate the Sentra’s new look, considering that its past shell was chiefly unlikable.
CABIN CUSTOMIZATION FOR A PRICE
Extending the intentions of the outer platform to the inner lining, the Sentra’s new cabin has better standard front bucket seats, a communal dash and roominess exceeding expectations. It’s been newly refined with either cloth or leather trimmings, sliver accents, and even available maple wood. Standard creature comforts include power windows, power door lock and remote keyless entry.
Cloth comes standard across the board with an optional Leather Package of $1,030 solely for the SL model; which is unfortunate as leather would be an attractive combo with the SR’s personality. Heated front seats and dual-zone climate control are also only optioned for the SL model.
Easily seating five passengers, Nissan boasts that the new Sentra has the largest rear seat legroom in its class with an inch more than the top-selling Corolla, with overall cabin volume above the Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus.
Furthermore, the Sentra’s cabin ergonomics and onboard technology are aesthetically fashionable yet still basic – as is expected of this class. Depending on taste and needs, adding NissanConnect is a decent option with good navigation and a new Point of Interest feature powered by Google Maps.
As per the audio components, for the first time ever, Nissan is affording the Sentra an optional premium audio system incorporating Bose audio. Other optional audio gadgetry includes Pandora radio and Bluetooth streaming, voice recognition text messaging and response, via steering wheel audio controls and more.