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First Look: 2013 Nissan Sentra

Lighter, more lavish, more fuel-efficient.

by on Aug.31, 2012

The 2013 Nissan Sentra is 150 pounds lighter - yet also larger -- than the outgoing model.

Didn’t we already see Nissan’s new midsize sedan? Well, yes – and no.  The Japanese maker continues its unusual strategy of offering two entries into this critical market segment, starting with the all-new Altima it introduced earlier this year.

Now comes Nissan’s second model, the 2013 Sentra.  Technically a compact, according to EPA guidelines, it’s close enough in size to appeal to many midsize buyers on a budget.  Though the traditionally down-market entry, Nissan is making the sort of styling and feature changes that it hopes will convince potential buyers that the new Sentra isn’t just a roomy econobox.

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As with the Altima and the other big entry for 2013, the Pathfinder ute, the redesigned Altima follows Nissan’s so-called “class-above” strategy.  That starts with a more premium design than the outgoing model.  The basic look will be familiar to those who’ve already seen the new Altima, starting with the trapezoid-shaped Nissan grille framed with large headlamps and LED accent lights – normally a luxury car detail. The standard taillights are LED, as well.

The 2013 Nissan Sentra will deliver up to 40 mpg on the highway.

The new sedan’s beltline is lower and a more sculpted character line runs nearly nose-to-tail.  The roofline is more coupe-like.  The overall vehicle is slightly larger – with an added 2.3 inches of length and 0.3 inches on the wheelbase — and roomier inside.

The cabin is more lavishly finished, as well.  Leather-appointed seating is available but even base cars have soft-touch surfaces on the instrument panel and driver’s door armrest.  The cabin falls into the midsize category, according to government standards, though the exterior dimensions are officially those of a compact.

Like Altima and Pathfinder, the 2013 Nissan Sentra is also lighter than the vehicle it replaces, shedding a significant 150 pounds in its new iteration – a drop of 5% compared to the outgoing Sentra.  That helps Nissan deliver better mileage, the FE+ model reaching 40 miles per gallon on the highway.  Other models equipped with the Nissan CVT transmission reach 39 mpg – and a combined city/highway rating of 34 mpg.

The sedan's interior is roomier and better equipped.

The 2013 remake introduces a new 1.8-liter, DOHC four-cylinder engine making 130 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque.  The timing of both the intake and exhaust valves can be continuously varied to improve both performance and fuel economy as well as to minimize emissions.  The engine’s mileage was also enhanced by the use of a new, low-friction cylinder coating.

The base Sentra S offers a 6-speed manual.  The rest of the line-up gets the updated Xtronic CVT.  The continuously variable transmission is lighter, smaller and more efficient – and also covers a wider gear ratio.

“The 2013 Nissan Sentra is the most revolutionary design in the nameplate’s 30-year history, a worthy addition to what is without question the most innovative, highest quality, highest value sedan lineup in Nissan history,” said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc.  “With the complete redesign for 2013, Sentra is closer in look and feel to Altima than a typical compact sedan.”

The 2013 Nissan Sentra gets a new 1.8-liter I-4.

Among the Sentra’s new standard features are a 6-way driver’s seat, air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, power window’s with one-touch power up/down driver’s window and remote keyless entry.

Options include a new dual-zone A/C package, Sirius XM and Bluetooth hands-free calling and the NissanConnect navigation system that also allows hands-free text messaging.

Look for the new Sentra to reach market this autumn. No pricing has yet been announced.

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