Nissan is the midst of a major product offensive, one that began with the all-new 2013 Altima. While it often goes unrecognized, the Altima is the second-best selling mid-size car in America. For 2013, Nissan is hoping to push it to class leader status. With the Sentra, Nissan is aiming to boost its share in the compact segment.
With the current Sentra, Nissan has lagged both in sales and critical acclaim. Simply put, it has never been a very competitive entry in the past.. That is all about to change for the 2013, as Nissan gives the Sentra a comprehensive makeover featuring its “class above” styling strategy. Nissan is really upping its game.
We’ve seen this before – on the Altima, and Maxima before it. From this car it is clear that Nissan is pushing a unified styling theme for its sedans. Thankfully, it is a very good looking one. They clearly found something that worked with the Altima and have decided to stick with it. Compared to the previous car, Sentra looks a lot more grown up and substantial. At a practical level, what does Nissan’s “class above” approach mean anyway? Nissan points to features like LED headlight accents and full LED taillights. Until recently they weren’t even standard on cars in the mid-size segment. It’s an exclusive for the compact class, and details like that count when you’re aiming to offer a premium feel.
The specs sheet on the Sentra is less impressive. Unlike the Altima, the Sentra gets an all-new powertrain setup. A new 1.8-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder is standard, and it makes 130 horsepower and 128 pound feet of torque. Both figures are down from output on the 2012 Sentra, which is very curious. Unfortunately that is the only engine available right now. Nissan’s fondness for continuously variable transmissions (of course) continues with a new Xtronic unit doing automatic duty. On the base model car Nissan will offer a six-speed manual. Nissan estimates that mileage for 2013 will increase to 30 mpg city and 39 mpg highway thanks to the new engine, CVT and a five percent reduction in weight. That works out to about 150 pounds, a laudable achievement considering that most cars gain weight with each passing generation, and that the Sentra has grown larger. Fact is though that the Sentra is seriously down on power sand size versus the Altima and it only gets one more mpg on the highway. What’s up with that? Maybe they’re under promising in this regard; we’ll see.
Premium, grown up – these are Sentra themes that are carried over inside. While many in this class are going for youthful, it opts for a more formal look. Nissan says it focused on upgraded materials, improved NVH control and technology. The car is available with an advanced navigation system, RearView Monitor, Nissan Intelligent Key push button starter and Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Loaded, the car features leather and wood trim accents. With these upgrades, Sentra could end up attracting Altima buyers looking to size down. Nissan has been so far a bit of a sleeper success, gaining a lot of sales at the expense of competitors like Honda. With the Sentra they’ve only improved the formula. With the Altima, Pathfinder and Sentra on the way, 2013 is shaping up to be a really great year for Nissan.