Compact car; Built in
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $9,000 – $18,300*

2013 Nissan Sentra

2013 Nissan Sentra

2013 Nissan Sentra

2013 Nissan Sentra

  • Cargo room
  • Interior materials
  • Rear-seat room and comfort
  • Acceleration
  • Handling
  • Noise

Sentra’s combination of a spacious trunk and back seat, excellent EPA fuel-economy ratings, and high features per dollar quotient look to deliver a devastating blow to the compact-car class, at least on paper. In practice, the car is slow, doesn’t handle exceptionally well, and is extremely noisy. Sentra’s features that do stand out are more than overshadowed by its dynamic shortcomings. Given the fact that most rivals have similar strengths without such glaring weaknesses, this is a tough car to recommend.


The Nissan Sentra compact sedan was redesigned for 2013. Its new styling was reminiscent of the similarly redesigned Nissan Altima midsize sedan. Its updated engine had a bit less power than its predecessor, but Nissan expected its fuel economy to be much higher.

The Sentra lineup consisted of base S, volume SV, sport-themed SR, and luxury-themed SL trim levels. Also available were fuel-economy-oriented FE+ (fuel economy plus) S and FE+ SV versions.

Standard features on all models included power windows/locks/mirrors, air conditioning, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry, and split-folding rear seat backs.

The FE+ S and SV were fitted with low-rolling-resistance tires, which were designed to improve fuel economy.

The SV included cruise control and steering-wheel radio controls.

SR received unique exterior trim and wheels.

SL had dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry with pushbutton engine start, satellite radio, USB port, and Bluetooth wireless cell-phone link.

Many of the SL’s standard features were available on the SV or SR as part of various option packages. While all Sentras had rear drum brakes, 4-wheel discs were optional on the SR and SL. A navigation system with rearview camera was optional on all but the S. Leather upholstery with heated front seats was optional on the SL.

The performance-oriented Sentra SE-R and SE-R Spec V were discontinued.

All 2013 Sentra models were front-wheel drive, and powered by a new 130-horsepower 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine. This was down 10 horsepower over the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder used in the 2007-2012 Sentra. A 6-speed manual transmission was standard on the S. Optional on that model and standard on all others, including the FE+, was a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that behaved like an automatic.

EPA estimated fuel economy for the 2013 Nissan Sentra was 27 mpg city/36 mpg highway with the 6-speed manual transmission. Most CVT-equipped models received a 30 city/39 highway score. The S and SV FE+ saw a boost of 1 mpg on the highway (30/40). All Sentras used regular-grade gas.

This evaluation was based on preview test drives.

Yearly Updates

2013 Sentra
Nissan made several changes to the 2014 Sentra. They included tuning changes to the steering, the suspension, and the continuously variable transmission (CVT). Also, front-seat lower cushion storage pockets were added to the standard equipment list, and a sliding front armrest was added to the SL model and the SV/DR Driver Package. The NissanConnect system with Navigation was updated and was able to connect to an app installed on iPhone or Android smartphones.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

All Sentra models are front-wheel drive and powered by a 130-horsepower 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine. A 6-speed manual transmission was standard on the S. Optional on that model and standard on all others, including the FE+, was a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that behaves like an automatic.

dohc I41
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/110
Engine HP 130
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 128
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
CVT automatic

1. EPA ratings are 30 city and 40 highway for FE+ model with CVT.

Road Test

With the CVT, Sentra is decently peppy from a stop. Above 3,500 rpm, however, the engine runs out of steam very quickly. This proves problematic for highway merging and passing. While Nissan doesn’t publish 0-60-mph acceleration estimates, we would guess it’s about 11 seconds based on our seat-of-the-pants impressions. The CVT does what it can to keep the engine in its optimum power band, but it’s not enough to overcome the car’s general lack of grunt. No manual-transmission models have been made available for testing.

In Consumer Guide testing, a Sentra SV with the CVT automatic averaged 31.7 mpg. Sentra uses regular-grade gasoline.

Sentra’s body structure doesn’t feel quite as solid as that of the Chevrolet Cruze, but this Nissan doesn’t suffer from any undue primary or secondary body motions. We noticed no difference in ride quality between the SV, which uses 16-inch tires, and the SL, which has 17s.

Sentra’s handling trails that of most compact rivals. The body leans noticeably, and grip is rather limited in fast turns. The latter is a bigger problem on cars with the standard 16-inch wheels. The SR and SL have 17s and are a bit more capable.

Noise control is not a Sentra strong point. The engine drones loudly when accelerating. It eventually quiets down, only to be replaced by copious road noise on the highway. Said road noise effectively drowns out any interference from other sources (wind, engine, etc).

With or without dual-zone functionality, the climate controls are handy and simple to use, if a bit low mounted on the central dashboard stack. All models tested had the optional navigation system. Despite a somewhat small size, the included touchscreen was bright and crisp, with easy-to-read fonts and flanking buttons.

Sentra’s cabin presents well with nicely textured plastic panels and soft-touch surfaces where you want them. The SL’s faux-wood trim looks surprisingly good.

Up front, headroom is good, even beneath the housing of the optional sunroof. Legroom would only be an issue for those who are very tall. The seats themselves are too soft and lack thigh support. Visibility is fine in all directions.

Rear-seat room is outstanding. By the numbers, Sentra is second only to the Volkswagen Jetta in terms of rear-seat legroom among compact sedans. Headroom is similarly good as the angle of the rear seat backs doesn’t allow passengers’ heads to run afoul of the sunroof housing. At the same time, the seat back isn’t set in such a position as to be uncomfortable.

At 15.1 cubic feet, Sentra’s trunk is one of the largest in the class. The opening is wide, but the cargo floor narrows a bit toward the seat backs due to intrusion from the wheel wells. In-cabin storage consists of a large glovebox, decently sized door pockets, and a disappointingly tiny center console.


Model Tested: SV with Premium and Navigation packages

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 3
Fuel Economy - 8
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 3


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 6
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
Cargo Room - 4


Value - 4

Total: 51


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.3 182.1 69.3 58.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.1 13.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.4 36.7 42.5 37.4
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2013 Sentra 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 3

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots


Recall History

2013 Sentra
Description: Certain 2013 model Nissan Sentra vehicles made between September 11, 2012 and October 4, 2012 may have fuel tanks that were not properly sealed when they were made. This can result in a fuel leak when they are full of gasoline.
2013-14 Sentra
Description: Certain 2013 and 2014 model Nissan Sentra vehicles may have an occupant classification system (OCS) control unit that can fail to recognize the front seat is occupied. This can result in the air bag failing to deploy during a collision.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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