Nissan Sentra Review
The 2013 Nissan Sentra ranks 36 out of 41 Affordable Small Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of published reviews and test drives of the Nissan Sentra, as well as reliability and safety data.
While car reviewers agree that the redesigned 2013 Nissan Sentra is easily surpassed by rivals with stronger engines and better handling, they are impressed with its rear passenger and cargo space, as well as its easy-to-use interior features.
All 2013 Sentra models have a 130-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. Only the base model has a six-speed manual transmission; all other trims have a continuously variable transmission. Reviewers say the Sentra’s engine lacks power for passing and driving at highway speeds. Most members of the automotive press dislike the transmissions. One critic thinks the manual transmission is rough and unrefined, and more than one critic reports that the CVT is loud at higher speeds. With the CVT, the Sentra gets up to 30/39 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA, which is high for the class. Complaints about performance extend to the Sentra’s steering and braking. The steering is panned for being unresponsive, and critics say the brakes on the base model are mushy. With optional rear disc brakes, reviewers say the Sentra’s stopping power is fine, but not class-leading. Though test drivers think the Sentra isn’t fun to drive, they are impressed with its outstanding fuel economy ratings and appreciate its comfortable ride.
Test drivers are thoroughly impressed with the Sentra's huge trunk, which competes with the cargo space some midsize cars offer. The second-row seats are also large enough to accommodate two adults comfortably. Auto writers are surprised that the Sentra’s front seats seem to offer less room than the rear ones, and wish the seats had more bolstering. Some reviewers say the steering wheel doesn’t telescope far enough, making it tough to find an ideal driving position. The base 2013 Sentra doesn’t offer as many standard features as its classmates. Bluetooth and a USB port are optional, as are a navigation system, rearview camera and Bose stereo. Most reviewers have evaluated some of the highest Sentra trims, and come away impressed with their interior quality. They also like that the Sentra’s optional interior technology is very easy to use, even with the navigation system. One reviewer isn’t impressed with the Bose stereo’s sound quality.
- "The 2013 Sentra feels more like a baby Altima than an improved 2012 Sentra, which is a good thing." -- Automobile Magazine
- "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
- "There's nothing compelling about the 2013 Nissan Sentra from an enthusiast's perspective, but for the average compact car buyer who, according to one Nissan executive, wants ‘value, fuel economy, reliability and adequate dynamics,’ it's a solid bet." -- Motor Trend
- "As it is, the Sentra is in the thick of a very crowded field of budget-minded compact sedans. Better than some, though not at 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." -- Road and Track
Other Affordable Small Cars to Consider
If you want a better combination of fun-to-drive performance and more tech features, consider the Dodge Dart. Like the Sentra, the Dart’s base engine isn’t very powerful, but reviewers like the Dart’s optional turbocharged engines, which the Sentra doesn’t offer. The Dart doesn’t have many standard features, but the Dart does offer more tech features than the Sentra, such as an infotainment system.
The base Kia Rio costs several thousand dollars less than the Nissan Sentra, and has more standard features, including a USB port and steering-wheel mounted audio controls. The Rio’s engine is also a bit more powerful than the Sentra’s, and while it isn’t the strongest engine in the class, reviewers say the Rio keeps up with traffic and doesn’t feel strained on the highway.
Details: 2013 Nissan Sentra
The 2013 Sentra comes in S, SV, SR and SL trims. All models have a four-cylinder engine, and the base model comes with a six-speed manual transmission. All other models have a continuously variable transmission. The base Sentra doesn’t offer many standard features, but a Bose stereo, navigation system and interior materials upgrades are available on higher trims. The Sentra is redesigned for the 2013 model year.
Next Steps: Nissan Sentra
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