The compact car segment commands one-third of the cars sold in the U.S. with more than 2 million sales annually.
Not surprisingly, the small 2013 Nissan Sentra is a big player in this highly competitive market.
Built in North America, Nissan Sentra stretches into a third decade of production with its seventh-generation model.
The 2013 Nissan Sentra S leads the compact car parade waving the banner of high fuel economy and exceptional value starting at $15,990.
Sentra’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine musters 130 horsepower coupled to a second-generation continuously variable automatic (CVT) transmission. Exclusive to Sentra S is a six-speed manual gearbox.
With the CVT, Sentra achieves 30 miles per gallon city and 39 mpg highway.
An optional FE-Plus package ($400) increases Sentra to 40 mpg highway with use of a rear spoiler, underbody aero shielding and low-resistance tires for a potential 515-miles of range between fill-ups.
Sentra S with a manual gearbox reaches 27 mpg/city and 36 mpg/highway.
The 2013 Nissan Sentra also comes in SV, SR and SL trim levels. I tested the SR model base priced at $18,870.
Nissan Sentra SR's cost is bookended by the SV for $17,970 and SL at $19,760. Add $790 across the board for freight.
Sentra’s ride quality is outstanding making for a very pleasant driving experience.
Sentra SR brings a sporty look to the model line with 17-inch five spoke alloy rims, sport grille, sculpted front/rear fascia, rear spoiler, body side sill extensions, chrome exhaust tips, fog lamps and silver exterior trim.
Inside, Sentra flashes a fresh interior with exceptional back seat space that heralds head and legroom to accommodate a pair of six-foot passengers. Three adults in back are a squeeze for anything more than a cross-town jaunt.
When unoccupied, the back seat folds forward into the cabin to expand the 15-cubic foot trunk to create a tiered pass-through for over-size loads.
Soft touch surfaces surround the cabin. One rub is the fixed center arm rest set deep between the two front seats rendering it useless for some drivers.
Sentra’s dashboard layout is sensible with easy to reach and operate instrumentation and switch gear.
Maple wood tone or silver trim accents adorn the standard premium cloth seat cabin. Heated (front) leather seat surfaces are optional.
All but the Sentra S model is available with navigation ($650) that features a flush-mounted 5.8-inch display, rearview monitor, traffic and weather updates and POIs powered by Google.
The system also includes NissanConnect – a messaging system that allows drivers to hear their text messages read to them and respond without taking their hands off the wheel.
Power front moonroof and Bose Premium Audio system with 8-speakers and unique amplifier tuned for Sentra’s cloth or leather seat surfaces are other popular options.