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2013 Nissan Sentra

$3,864 — $14,456 USED
Sedan
5 Seats
30-34 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 6 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Fuel efficiency
  • Backseat room
  • Steering feedback
  • User-friendly navigation system
  • Trunk and interior storage space

The Bad

  • Clumsy ride on broken pavement
  • Braking with standard rear drum brakes
  • Coarse drivetrain
  • Front-seat room
  • Low-grip tires
2013 Nissan Sentra exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2013 Nissan Sentra
  • Redesigned for 2013
  • Manual or continuously variable automatic
  • Larger trunk, longer dimensions
  • Available FE+ trim with EPA-estimated 40 mpg highway
  • Available NissanConnect multimedia system
  • Standard LED accent lighting

Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

They may not be as sexy as luxury sedans or high-performance sports cars, but the competitors in our 2013 Compact Car Challenge represent the go-to vehicles for the majority of us regular folks in our everyday lives.

by Kelsey Mays -

Can fuel economy alone win over car shoppers? Nissan is banking on it with the redesigned 2013 Sentra, whose EPA-estimated 34 mpg combined city/highway rating is tops among commuter sedans. Backseat and trunk room to spare also distinguish the car, but little else sets it apart from the competition.

The redesigned 2013 Nissan Sentra has many practical strengths, but it stirs little in the way of emotion.

Trim levels include a Sentra S, SV, SR and SL. Compare them here, or compare the 2013 and 2012 Nissan Sentra here. The S can have a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional continuously variable automatic transmission. The CVT comes standard on all other trims. I drove both transmissions and several trim levels.

Blend-In Styling
Where Hyundai, Ford and Mazda have unique-looking compacts, the Sentra's appearance ventures nowhere new. Styled in three continents for a global market, it swaps its predecessor's chunkier corners for smoother contours, but the whole of it is rather blasé: formless rear fenders, narrow proportions, a stubby tail, a face you'll forget. Nissan describes the car as a "class above," with upscale touches like chrome door handles and optional mirror-integrated turn signals, but those elements festoon a bland canvas.

Overall length grew 2.3 inches from what was already a sizable car, up to 182.1 inches. That's nearly 4 inches longer than the Ford Focus or Hyundai Elantra sedans and almost 5 inches longer th...

by Kelsey Mays -

Can fuel economy alone win over car shoppers? Nissan is banking on it with the redesigned 2013 Sentra, whose EPA-estimated 34 mpg combined city/highway rating is tops among commuter sedans. Backseat and trunk room to spare also distinguish the car, but little else sets it apart from the competition.

The redesigned 2013 Nissan Sentra has many practical strengths, but it stirs little in the way of emotion.

Trim levels include a Sentra S, SV, SR and SL. Compare them here, or compare the 2013 and 2012 Nissan Sentra here. The S can have a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional continuously variable automatic transmission. The CVT comes standard on all other trims. I drove both transmissions and several trim levels.

Blend-In Styling
Where Hyundai, Ford and Mazda have unique-looking compacts, the Sentra's appearance ventures nowhere new. Styled in three continents for a global market, it swaps its predecessor's chunkier corners for smoother contours, but the whole of it is rather blasé: formless rear fenders, narrow proportions, a stubby tail, a face you'll forget. Nissan describes the car as a "class above," with upscale touches like chrome door handles and optional mirror-integrated turn signals, but those elements festoon a bland canvas.

Overall length grew 2.3 inches from what was already a sizable car, up to 182.1 inches. That's nearly 4 inches longer than the Ford Focus or Hyundai Elantra sedans and almost 5 inches longer than a Honda Civic sedan. Its width, however, shrank 1.2 inches, making the new Sentra one of the narrowest — yet still tallest — cars in its class. Nissan says the reduction improves aerodynamics, but the whole of it makes for a slightly ungainly stance.

Sixteen-inch steel wheels are standard, with 16- or 17-inch alloys optional. The Nissan Sentra SR comes with the 17s, fog lights, a unique grille, some modest ground effects and a chrome tailpipe, but it has no suspension or drivetrain changes.

MPG Priority
An all-new 130-horsepower, 1.8-liter inline-4 cylinder replaces last year's capable, if thirstier, 2.0-liter four. It pairs with a next-generation CVT for adequate pep from a stop, but passing power takes a hit as the engine dallies noisily at higher rpm. The Sentra S' six-speed manual ascends each tall gear in coarse, excitement-free fashion. Our prototype test car's shifter had short but sloppy throws, with third gear feeling particularly out of whack.

Both the manual and automatic have Sport, normal and Eco modes, which affect the automatic transmission most. Sport mode sacrifices fuel efficiency to improve accelerator and CVT response, and it kicks up revs in lockstep with your right foot — helpful on the highway. Eco, meanwhile, relaxes accelerator and air conditioning response to maximize gas mileage.

Nissan says the Sentra's EPA mileage — 30/39 mpg city/highway with the CVT — is based just on normal mode. The car's 34 mpg combined rating stacks up well against popular versions of the Elantra (33 mpg), Civic (32), Focus (31), Chevrolet Cruze (30) and Toyota Corolla (29). Efficiency enhancements bump the Sentra FE+ model's highway mileage to 40 mpg, which allows Nissan to market that vaunted figure but doesn't change the 34 mpg combined rating. Opt for the FE+ Package ($400 on the SV and automatic-transmission S) only if you plan gobs of interstate travel. Stick-shift Sentras, meanwhile, are EPA-rated at 27/36 mpg.

Ride & Handling
Automakers like Chevrolet and Hyundai manage decent ride quality with a semi-independent torsion beam rear suspension — a cheaper setup than the fully independent suspension employed by the Civic, Mazda3 and Focus. The Nissan's torsion beam is at the less-refined end. It rides a touch firmer than last year's Nissan Sentra, and broken pavement or rapid elevation changes make the chassis bounce about. The S and SV wear standard steel wheels and traction-challenged P205/55R16 Bridgestone Turanza tires, which skitter about as you accelerate, brake or turn over ruts or potholes. The optional alloy wheels stay grounded better, though the 17-inch P205/50R17 Continental ContiProContact tires in the SL proved no stickier in corners. FE+ models include lower-rolling-resistance tires, which could compromise traction even further.

At least the Sentra steers well, with settled highway composure and good maneuvering feedback. Optional four-wheel-disc brakes on the SR and SL stop the car with linear pedal progression — but the disc/drum setup on lesser cars has a spongier pedal with weak, squirrely hard stops. If you purchase a Sentra SR or SL, get the discs.

Such is how the SNissanentra drives: softly and competently, but clumsily—and competitors have elevated the game. The Cruze, Civic and Elantra have more refined rides, while the Focus and Mazda3 out-handle the Nissan. Gas mileage is the Sentra's trump card, but the driving experience exposes why.

The Inside
The cabin gets some style points — interesting door handles, a chrome-trimmed waterfall panel from the climate controls to the gearshift — but overall styling is conservative. Cabin quality varies, with softer door armrests and better upper-dash textures than the last Nissan Sentra, but cheaper materials for the upper doors and sun visors.

Storage space remains a strength, with a glove compartment so deep I half expected to reach a fan belt. But cabin space is a weakness: In my moonroof-equipped test car, there wasn't enough headroom for my 5-foot-11 frame with the height-adjustable seat anywhere close to full elevation. Tall adults in the front passenger seat, which has fixed height, will find the same issue. Moonroof-free cars return some much-needed headroom, but legroom remains another problem. The seat moves forward as you raise it, and with it elevated a few pumps I wished I had another inch or two of rearward adjustment. The alternative was sitting uncomfortably low in order to get enough legroom. It's perplexing, given the rear seats have legroom to spare. Let the seat slide back another few clicks, Nissan: Peter has plenty, but Paul needs more.

At 15.1 cubic feet, trunk volume compares to a midsize sedan, beating the Corolla and Civic by more than 20 percent. A 60/40-split folding rear seat is standard.

Standard audio includes a CD stereo and auxiliary audio jack, but USB/iPod connectivity or Bluetooth aren't standard on most trims. Both these features are optional, as is a Bose stereo. Opt for Nissan's NissanConnect system and you'll get a small but user-friendly, 5.8-inch navigation system with Pandora internet radio via your smartphone and Bluetooth audio streaming. It can read incoming text messages, too, but allows only a handful of preset responses.

Safety, Features & Pricing
TheNissan  Sentra has yet to be crash-tested. Standard safety features include six airbags, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system. Click here for a full list of safety features. The Nissan Sentra base price starts under $17,000 (including a $780 destination charge) and comes with power windows and locks, air conditioning, remote keyless entry and just a basic CD stereo with an auxiliary audio input. The price is on par with base versions of the Focus, Cruze, Corolla and Civic. The Sentra's CVT, which is standard on all higher trims, adds a hefty $1,270 to the S.

Bluetooth audio streaming can only be had with the NissanConnect navigation system — unfortunate because most Smartphone users already have turn-by-turn navigation. Other options include cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bose audio and heated leather seats. Load the Sentra up and the price tops $23,000.

Sentra in the Market
Emotions run weak for the new Nissan Sentra, but there's precedent for sales success: The redesigned Versa, a car that lacks appeal but has abundant room, leads its entry-level body-type competitors in sales this year. Nissan played it safe with the new Sentra, which leapfrogged competitors in some aspects but only matched them in others. It remains to be seen how commuter-car buyers will respond.

Send Kelsey an email  

 

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

3.8
116 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.4)
Performance
(3.4)
Interior Design
(4.2)
Comfort
(4.2)
Reliability
(3.6)
Value For The Money
(3.7)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

Best car I have owned

by Tan from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 5, 2018

Car is very good on gas mileage, I have had the car for almost two years and there has been no major work that has to be done, the car is beautiful and drives so well. I love this car Read full review

(5.0)

Nothing bad to say about this car

by specvowner from Easton, PA on October 27, 2018

I own the SER Spec-V manual transmission trim for the Sentra. It is a fun, reliable, spacious car that I have nothing negative to say about it. Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2013 Nissan Sentra currently has 6 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2013 Nissan Sentra S

NHTSA rates vehicles using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Overall
4 Star
Overall Front
4 Star
Overall Side
5 Star
Overall Rollover Rating
4 Star
Driver's
4 Star
Passenger's
3 Star
Side Barrier
5 Star
Side Barrier Rating Driver
5 Star
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
5 Star
Side Pole
5 Star
Side Pole Barrier combined (Front)
5 Star
Side Pole Barrier combined (Rear)
5 Star
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Nissan

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    6 years/less than 80,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    84 months/100,000 miles from original new-car in-service date

  • Powertrain

    84 months/100,000 miles (includes LEAF electric vehicle system and powertrain)

  • Dealer Certification Required

    167-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All CPO Program Details

Latest 2013 Sentra Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Sentra received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

N/A

Infant seat

A

Booster

(second row)

B

Booster

(third row)

N/A

Latch or Latch system

B

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

N/A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

A
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker