By Jennifer Geiger on August 31, 2012
Nissan is in the midst of refreshing most of its lineup, and now it's the Sentra's turn. The Sentra is redesigned with a new engine and a more upscale look, inside and out. The compact sedan gets lighter, longer and more fuel efficient for 2013.
The Sentra grows 2.3 inches longer this year and gets exterior styling updates that tie it to Nissan's recently redesigned Altima. It wears the Altima's new trapezoid-shaped grille and similar wraparound headlights with LED accents.
The new Sentra will be available in base S, FE+ S, SV, FE+ SV, SR and SL trim levels. Sporty SR versions add 17-inch five-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels, sport-oriented front and rear fascias, a unique grille, lower-body side sill extensions, a rear spoiler with integrated LED brake light and a chrome-tipped exhaust pipe.
All models are powered by a new 130-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. A version of it currently powers Nissan's 2012 Versa hatchback. It replaces the 2012 Sentra’s 140-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder and the Sentra SE-R and SE-R Spec V’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder.
Transmission choices are a six-speed manual and an updated version of Nissan's continuously variable automatic transmission. Nissan says the CVT is standard across the lineup, but base S models can be equipped with the manual.
The FE+ (fuel economy plus) models will get 40 mpg on the highway, Nissan says. CVT-equipped models are rated at 39 mpg on the highway. Model-year 2012 Sentras were EPA-rated at 27/34 mpg city/highway with the 2.0-liter and CVT and 24/31 mpg with the six-speed manual.
Inside, leather seats are newly available, as is maple wood-tone trim. They join a redesigned instrument panel and a host of new standard and optional features. Newly standard are a tilt/telescoping steering column, six-way manual driver's seat, two auxiliary 12-volt power outlets, remote keyless entry and the Easy Fill Tire Alert system. Options include the NissanConnect navigation system with hands-free text messaging and a 5.8-inch touch-screen, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity and a Bose eight-speaker stereo.
The 2013 Sentra goes on sale this fall. Check back with us for pricing.
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Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Geiger is a reviewer, car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats, many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer