Nissan Sentra Test drive

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The Sentra is all-new for 2013. Looking a bit like a baby
But I am not sure it works. Squeezing the Altima design onto
a smaller platform isn’t the best idea. It does look weird and heavy from some angles.
To make matter worse, my SR test car had horrible looking
side skirts and spoilers.
Reminding me of a 1980’s Pontiac more than an all-new 2013
And the horrible looking “Metallic blue” (No fancy names
here) didn’t help.
My personal opinion: the new Sentra is one of the ugliest
cars in its class. 

 Inside, things are much better. Even though there is quite a
bit of wannabe carbon fiber plastic around in the SR version.

The dash design flows very nicely and is very pleasant to
look at. Everything is solid and well made.
The Bose stereo sounds very good. The worse part is the
seats. They are too flat to be comfortable. And the lower back is pushing you
out too much.

 As I mentioned before, the 1st thing I noticed
was how rough and noisy the engine was when I picked the car up right after
returning the smooth Jetta Hybrid.

It is not horrible, I mostly got used to it after a couple
of days. Still, not as smooth and quiet as the previous generation.
I usually like Nissan CVTs, but not this one. It is exactly
what people don’t like about CVT . Slow to react, the engine revs up but
nothing much happens.
The car does feel slow. 
The problem is mostly corrected by
using the “sport” setting. (The switch is oddly placed under the dash to the
left of the steering wheel). But then, the revs are really noisy.  The Sentra is best driven as a slow car.
Don’t push it (at all) and things are smooth and quiet enough.
The power train is really not as good as what you can find
in the Jetta, Cruze or most of the competition. Plus, at idle, you do feel
vibrations through the driver seat. You can even see the passenger seat shake a
bit when empty. Not the best feeling…
The Sentra is rated at 30/38 MPG.
Which is pretty much what I got. And those are good numbers.

My test SR model with a few options (Driver package, GPS,
Premium package) was about $22 500. Which is pretty average.
And that’s what you basically get. An average car. Which
will be good enough for many. Over 200 000 people every year I am sure.
For me, I feel life is too short to drive cars like these on a regular basis….

Conversation 28 comments

  1. This car is ugly, and even the new Altima is ugly. Nissan is trying to force their designs to be cool, and they aren't. I wont go on about the lame CVT, just about the no manual option – I simply wont buy any automatic anymore; they bore me.

    For 22k I'd get almost anything outside of this in it's class, or notch up to a base Accord (with manual!). You may forego some useless Sentra options if you go for the base Accord, but the Accord will be a far superior car in every single other way.

    I pity you, Vince, for having suffered that Sentra for a week.

  2. Vince… Though I'm certainly not in lined to buy such a vehicle, it's pretty obvious that you entered into this 'test drive' with a large amount of bias.

    Just for comparison, I took a lengthy test drive of the 2013 Sentra and with the notable exception of the rather aesthetically questionable 'side skirts' on the SR version, found it to be the better/equal of most other cars in its class and a rather solid value given the level of fit/finish and equipment.

    To Each Their Own.

  3. I saw this car in a Nissan showroom a couple months back and thought it looked pretty decent. That ended when I opened the door and sat down in the driver's seat. That seat is the worst seat I have ever sat on. Hard as a park bench and NO support. Even worse, the Altima's seat is probably the best seat in it's class! How could Nissan get it so wrong???

  4. I sat in this car. Worst driver's seat I have ever sat in. Oddly, the 2013 Altima has one of the best seats I have ever sat in. Go figure.

  5. This new Sentra is junk. It is like a Corolla, but has a nicer interior.

    For $22,000, why would I NOT buy a Mazda3 loaded, a Elantra Limited with leather and heated seats, or hell, why not even a Sonata GLS?

    Honestly, if it were my money I'd go for the excellent Mazda3 or the beautiful (in my eyes) Sonata with FAR more horsepower, room, and almost equal gas mileage.

    This will be a flop like the last Sentra was.

  6. hey Vince, No way are you making any sense here. You are judgemnetal on the car that will / may become this segments leader. I disagree with everything you say here so strongly, I may delete your site from my favorites, waaaaay off base

  7. Checked one out yesterday. It's a disaster of poor design and poor quality. The seats in my old 91 Sentra were so superior to this. The over all interior quality in the 91 was superior to this. The 2013 even had some foreign debri resting in the driver tail lamp assembly. Nissan used to be my vehicle brand of choice. Owned nothing but Nissan from 1985-2007. I won't touch one today, So sad…

  8. With the exception of the seats analysis, they are very hard, the rest of this review is not consistent with other publications.

    Yes, styling is subjective. But remember majority of the intended market of this vehicle look for classy but conservative styling. As for the interior, it's vastly improved in both quality of materials and ergonomics over majority of it's competition.

    So overall your review is biased and preconceived.

    The one thing key thing this car lacks is the one thing you barely touched upon. It's under powered by about 25-30 ponies. If it had that and better seats, I would put it at the top of the class. Right now it's somewhat in the middle.

  9. just went to my dealership to see what u r all discussing here, Result…. I think the negative comments are from toyota/honda competitors that are rightfully scared. I own a Nissan Truck and an acoord, This seat is nicer than both. As well, the car is attractive, well finished and a nice price. Im not sure other than what I said earlier, as for Vince, there is no reason he would say this , cause its not true. BTW, their showroom car was this blue and it was very appealing and was sold while i looked at it. soooo, not sure whats up here.

  10. I think Vince did a fair review.
    Here are some comments from a well known car site:

    Its structure doesn't feel quite as solid as that of the Chevrolet Cruze.The body leans noticeably, and grip is rather limited in fast turns. Quietness is not a Sentra strong point.

  11. "just went to my dealership to see what u r all discussing here…."

    Why? Don't you have anything else to do during the day? Liar!

  12. With a few notable exceptions, Nissan/Infiniti styling has been bizarre and awkward through the years.

    Everyone loves to slam Toyota and Honda for their styling misfires. But Nissan – by far – has been the worst offender.

  13. Some people seem personally offended by this review. Lighten up Francis! It's a damned Sentra. Nissan hasn't built a decent Sentra in this century. This is just a nip-tuck of a car that was universally panned, and I can confirm that it was a trashy, awful car. So I don't expect much with this lightly refreshed one. At over 22k, this thing isn't even going to be on anyone's radar. With the exception of the Corolla, every other automaker offers a better alternative to this.

  14. @ January 28, 2013 at 8:09 AM
    @ January 28, 2013 at 10:55 AM


    Hey Vince, here is our "Nissan is a great piece of kit" guy. Maybe he'll buy 8 of these for his flower delivery business, plumbing business, parcel delivery, or whatever business he is doing these days.

    The Sentra is a dog, and it still isn't selling after the new one being on the market for a couple of months already.

    The consumers have spoken, as have the major publications who call this thing crap.

  15. They pulled a Corolla S with those side skirts. My initial impression of the Sentra, is great, but I've yet to drive it.

    You can get a Dart GT for more features and less coin.

  16. Lets look at this objectively. The best selling small cars in USA have been civic and corolla, for long time. Most people agreed the last civic was butt ugly(even honda as they refreshed only a year and half into the model), but, still best selling.

    So people who buy these vehicles don't have the same priorities as readers on this website. What are those priorities? Maybe proven reliability? MPG? cost? Storage?

    One thing I am sure of, it is not beauty queen good looks. Time will tell if this less than handsome car best honda/toyotas less than handsome cars.

  17. You don't like the color, the side skirts or the seats. Maybe you should have tried an SL because it can be had with different seats, there are no skirts and that blue isn't available to my knowledge. Still has the same weak engine though. I think that is the only thing nissan missed the mark on. Should have made a revised MR20DE instead of this.

  18. Anon 1/29 8:03…

    Really? You "pity" people who don't agree that the Sentra is a great car? What I pity is a retired person who has reached the later years of his life, yet hasn't driven enough truly great cars to understand how much further they have evolved than this. Nissan can build amazing cars, and they do. This isn't one of them. Not even close.

  19. Just went to muh dealer and tested this car…It is better than any Mercedes and Bentley and will last longer too!!! This car is so cheap quality its laughable!

  20. I think the the Sentra Photograhs well….then you get near one…then…worse yet, then you get in one. Awful. Now I know why Nissan has no ad campaign for this car…. even they cant find anything good about it…except that it alread has factory and dealer incentives.

  21. So people who buy these vehicles don't have the same priorities as readers on this website. What are those priorities? Maybe proven reliability? MPG? cost? Storage?

    Here are those "prioities" 1)Habit. 2)Opinions at CU Magazine. 3)Anti-car aura: (must be devoid of power, styling, charisma, status, or anything that screems "success", "power", or "acomplishment".) 4) Politically-correct spokesperson/ ad campaign. 5) Simple ads with no facts, figures, or direct comparisons: just a lot of "touchy-feely". 6)should be ugly enough that the signs of poor driving skills (dents, scratches, dings) don't stand-out. 7)PERCEIVED QUALITY (this is just good Creative Marketing–not to be confused with real-world reliability, safety, or efficency). 8)It helps if it's sold by the dealer where your last car stopped running. 9)It was the first car they saw in the color they liked. ; and 10) It doesn't scare them with it's power and presence. (It's customers may have more accidents/1000 units sold–and more deaths per 1000 units sold–but somehow that doesn't scare these buyers; what scares these folks are complex techno-gizmos like "all wheel drive" and "MDS" and "Eight Speed Autostick". Words like "HEMI" "TURBO" and "Multi-Contour" are always deal-killers.)

    If peddle-cars were street legal; Toyota would make them and these folks would mortgage the farm to buy them.

  22. Thanks for reviewing a "run of the mill" car that sells many units. I'm always interested in what automakers do at the low-to-mid end of the market, since that's where most customers (including me) are.

    I'd much prefer the Honda Civic in this segment, and I'd also like to see what Toyota will do with the new Corolla. Both cars have proven reliability and traditional auto trannys.

    And I want to give a shout out to Honda's unusual instrument panel on the Civic. I've driven that car for days at a time (my mom has one) and I like having the essential info (speed, engine temp, fuel level) at eye level. It's the tach that's immediately below that level that I found distracting. They should just eliminate the tach or relegate it to the corner of the IP.

  23. I drove a new Sentra a couple months ago. Since then, they seem to be selling well, I see a lot of them. The deal is that the car tries to be and succeeds at being a more modern and up to date Corolla with some (faux) style. Works great since the Corolla has no style. Car is loud when on the high rpm boil with CVT but otherwise with 130hp moves decently for the types of folks that will buy one. Commuters. Plus the car has tons of room for the class it is in. Aside from when it is on the CVT drone it is relatively quiet. The interior continues a faux luxury look that is not terrible. Vince is right, at 22-5 its a bit of a turd but most of these will lease cheap or sell in the high teens. Nissan will increase Sentra sales greatly, will steal sales from Toyota, and will be the car folks will go to if the Focus seems overdone or claustrophobic inside or if the Elantra or Civic wierds them out. For just commuting, having some room, and using little gas, those folks will think this car is awesome. Those types are the buyers, not the internet posters. This is the kind of car you lease for your wife to drive to work. -regfootball

  24. so much angst, so much anger, such a simple angry mind…..I really do pity you. I am retired, so I can do such things. The Sentra is a straight up great car!

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