2013 Nissan Sentra SR
2013 Nissan Sentra SR. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2013 Nissan Sentra SR

Perhaps 2013 is the year that the Nissan Sentra can finally overcome its ‘also-ran’ status in the compact sedan class. Though it’s always been an economical, comfortable, reliable and reasonably priced small car, the Sentra has failed to stand out in any meaningful way amongst a large contingent of competitive Japanese, Korean, American and German compact sedans. That’s a bit of an embarrassment for one of the world’s largest automobile companies.

There are a few good reasons why that may change this year: the newly redesigned 2013 Sentra is now the roomiest sedan in its class (by interior volume) with the best average fuel economy (when equipped with a CVT), and arguably the quietest, most comfortable cabin in its segment. In many respects, the redesigned 2013 Sentra is following a similar strategy to the recently upsized Nissan Versa and Altima sedans.

2013 Nissan Sentra SR2013 Nissan Sentra SR2013 Nissan Sentra SR2013 Nissan Sentra SR
2013 Nissan Sentra SR. Click image to enlarge

Driving Impressions

Equipped with a revised 1.8-litre DOHC four-cylinder engine and ‘next-generation’ (optional) continuously variable transmission (CVT), the Sentra now offers best-in-class combined fuel economy of 5.8 L/100 km (NRCan 6.6 City/4.9 Highway). That compares to the Civic 1.8 (6.2 L/100 km), Elantra 1.8 (6.3 L/100 km), Corolla 1.8 (6.9 L/100 km), Mazda3 Skyactiv 2.0 (6.5 L/100 km), Cruze 1.4T (6.6 L/100 km), Focus 2.0 (6.8 L/100 km), and Jetta 2.0 (8.1 L/100 km). You’ll notice I haven’t included the Civic Hybrid, Jetta Hybrid or Jetta TDI in the comparison. They offer better fuel economy, but will a Sentra buyer cross-shop a Civic Hybrid or a Jetta TDI? Probably not, in my opinion. They’re not mainstream enough.

Real-world fuel consumption for the Sentra, as for the other cars, will be higher than the official figures. The U.S. EPA gives the 2013 Sentra a combined rating of 6.9 L/100 km, and my onboard fuel consumption display was showing over 8 L/100 km. Much depends on how and where you drive.

In terms of horsepower, the Sentra lags behind most of its competitors. The Sentra’s 130 hp is up against the Civic (140 hp), Elantra (148 hp), Mazda3 (155 hp), Corolla (132 hp), Cruze 1.4T (138 hp), and Focus (160 hp). Even so, the larger-but-lighter Sentra’s straight-line performance is not too far out of line with those cars: track tests conducted by AJAC at last October’s Car of the Year Testfest show the 2013 Sentra CVT sedan accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 10.5 seconds. That compares to the Civic (5AT) with 9.9 sec., Elantra (6AT) 10.6 sec., Mazda3 Skyactiv (6AT) 9.5 sec., Cruze 1.4T (6AT) 10.4 sec., and Focus (6AT) 9.3 sec (figures supplied by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada).

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