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by Jay Traugott
Japanese automaker takes aim at Focus, Elantra and Corolla with more stylish and efficient all-new Sentra.
With fresh competition coming from everywhere, Nissan is very much aware that its redesigned Sentra must deliver at every level. Going up against such competition as the Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla, the redesigned 2013 Sentra brings Nissan's latest advancements to the C segment. The new Sentra takes visual cues from its new brother the Altima, with lines that look streamlined yet conservative, particularly in comparison to the Hyundai Elantra and Dodge Dart. Still, it's markedly more stylish than its boxy predecessor.
Complimented by Nissan's new family grille design, LED lamps front and rear contribute to the upscale look, as do the chrome trim and optional heated door mirrors. 16-inch wheels come standard, with 17-inch forked 5-spoke aluminum alloys available as optional. Beyond looks, however, the new Sentra improves performance and efficiency by shedding a good 150 pounds over the model it replaces, while still boasting one of the largest interior volumes in its class. 60/40 split rear seats contribute to ample trunk capacity, with interior design and space both improving over the previous model to the particular benefit of rear-seat legroom.
Leather upholstery and NissanConnect infotainment with 5.8" touchscreen, Bluetooth and Pandora are available. Power comes from a 1.8-liter four with 130 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque that's less powerful but more efficient than the previous 2.0. A six-speed manual comes standard in the base Sentra S, but the other six trim levels all come with the CVT as standard to help return a best-in-class combined fuel economy of 34 mpg, with the FE+ model nudging the 40-mpg mark. With the new Sentra, Nissan offers a more stylish, affordable and efficient alternative to the usual suspects.