Most people forget that the Nissan Altima is the second-best selling passenger vehicle in the United States, behind the Toyota Camry. For 2013, the Altima is being redesigned significantly in hopes of taking the top spot. While the Altima is a key player in the mid-size segment, the automaker’s entry below it are regarded as lackluster. Particularly the Versa, but also the Sentra.
It has been far surpassed by competitors like the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra. It’s time for Nissan to do something about this. In Beijing, Nissan is showing off the Sylphy, which is a dead ringer for the redesigned Sentra we’ll be getting. They just put out a teaser, but we know what it will look like thanks to the Chinese launch.
The good news is it’s way better. Very competitive, even. Nissan’s new sedan styling language, which was first shown off on the Maxima, is on clear display here. There are some awkward angles, but it definitely is an improvement over the current Sentra. The current car looks too small for the segment, while the Sylphy seems a size up. LED daytime running lights help give off a premium appearance – we’ll have to see if that carries over to the Sentra in the U.S. We think strong sales increases are definitely in the future for this sedan, especially with Nissan’s expertise on squeezing out impressive fuel economy numbers.
The Altima checks in at an impressive 38 mpg, using existing engines to save on development dollars. The next-generation Sentra is going to stick with this strategy, pairing a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with a next-generation continuously variable transmission. Nissan’s next-generation CVT’s are apparently very efficient. Inside, the Sylphy has a mature design, with an upright and uncluttered center stack. It is aimed at a broad section of the market. The result is far better than segment stalwarts like the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic. The 2013 Nissan Sentra will launch later this year, with a likely debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.