The redesigned 2013 Nissan Sentra enters the small car fray with a 150-lb. weight reduction, roomier back seat, and the promise of 40 mpg.
Based on a new platform, the Sentra is 2.3-inches longer than its predecessor, although it is slight lower and narrower. The styling nudges the small car upmarket, further distinguished by LED headlight accents and LED taillights. While overall interior volume is similar, Nissan cites increased rear-seat room and trunk space (two more cubic feet) as virtues.
The cabin includes uplevel features, such as a six-way adjustable driver's seat and tilt/telescope steering wheel. Optional notables include dual-zone automatic climate controls system, eight-speaker Bose audio system, and NissanConnect infotainment system with navigation, text-messaging assistant, Bluetooth audio, and Pandora Internet radio compatibility. However, USB input does not appear to be part of the standard four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo.
The Altima-inspired styling brings a significant reduction in aerodynamic drag, contributing to the fuel economy gains. With a 130-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT), Nissan claims an EPA-rated 30 mpg city, 39 mpg highway, and 34 mpg overall. A manual transmission will be offered on the base S model. Special FE+ trimmed models are said to achieve 40 mpg on the highway, an essential figure for marketing copy these days. The previous Sentra achieved a peak EPA rating of 34 highway.
Other trims will be offered, with SR bringing a sport-appearance package that includes 17-inch wheels, and unique front and rear fascias, grille, side sills, rear spoiler, and chrome exhaust tip.
The top-level SL includes wood trim, the dual-zone climate control system, and the "Easy Fill" tire alert system that can signal when the tires have been inflated to the proper pressure.
There has been no mention, yet, of a higher-performance version, such as the more powerful SE-R models of yore.
When the new Sentra arrives this fall, it will face an established roster of tough modern competitors, such as the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, and Hyundai Elantra.
See more photos of the 2013 Nissan Sentra in our New Car Preview.