Nissan Prices New Sentra

You’d be forgiven if you thought that Nissan had forgotten about the Sentra. The Garage sampled a 2012 Sentra SR earlier this year, and found it to be competent, but a design that lacked excitement, and worse, was really showing its age. For 2013, Nissan has taken the wraps off the seventh generation, all-new Sentra. For such an important car, Nissan has been extremely low-key about the launch of the newest Sentra.

While the outgoing Sentra looked hopelessly outdated, the new car is a breathe of fresh air with a level of grace and sophistication never before seen on the normally pedestrian Sentra’s of yore. The new Sentra is also 5% lighter than the outgoing car, yet is larger with more interior space while delivering better fuel economy. All Sentra’s share the same 1.8L four cylinder, rated at 130hp. Overall fuel economy is 34MPG.

The 2013 Nissan Sentra S starts at $15,990USD with a six-speed manual transmission (all other Sentra’s have a CVT). Nissan is offering seven variants of the Sentra, which seems like overkill between S, SV, SR, and SL trims along with an FE+ fuel economy trim level to further confuse matters. The top-spec Sentra SL tops out at a still reasonable $19,760. Keeping up with the latest in-car tech is a must, and Nissan will offer the Sentra with NissanConnectSM with Navigation, Hands-Free Text Messaging Assistant, Point of Interest GPS powered by Google, and Pandora radio. Other available features include a rear view monitor, premium Bose audio, and dual-zone auto climate control.

The latest Sentra is by far the prettiest and most advanced yet, and it’s handsome lines will surely lead buyers to the dealer’s door when it becomes available mid-October, 2012. Why Nissan is keeping so quiet about one of the most enduring models in its line is a mystery to me, but we bid adieu to the old, archaic Sentra, and welcome the new model. Be sure to check in for a full review of the 2013 Nissan Sentra in the coming months!

Review: 2012 Nissan Sentra 2.0 SR

The Sentra has been a pillar of Nissan’s car line for a full thirty years now, and while times have certainly changed, the Sentra has unfailingly been the automotive equivalent to sensible shoes or the same favorite brand of jeans you pick year after year. In other words, with the Sentra, the perception is you get just about what you expect. But the reality is we no longer live in a world where your choices for a decent small car were essentially limited to Civic/Corolla/Sentra. Far from it. With that in mind, The Garage set out to see how the current Sentra stacks up.

The Sentra is now in its sixth generation. Introduced in 2006 in Detroit as a 2007 model, the Sentra is now ancient in a sea of brand-new, fresh-faced competition. To put this into perspective, when the current Sentra was shown to the world for the first time, my wife was pregnant with our son. Said son is now in Kindergarten learning how to read, about to turn six years old. But, I digress. The Sentra is certainly familiar in appearance for having been around so long. A styling refresh in 2010 did much to soften up the blocky Lego-like front and rear end design. Our test car was a Sentra SR with the Special Edition Package identical to the car pictured here. For sure, I appreciated the SR-specific exterior features such as side sill extensions, sportier front and rear fascias, decklid spoiler among other features. But again, you’re looking at a design that has been around for an eternity. The sporty appearance bits help, but cannot mask the age of the design.

Given the sporty bits on the Sentra’s exterior, those expecting that theme to carryover inside will walk away bitterly disappointed. Our test car was finished in a pale, industrial grey that just seemed to shout ‘rental car’. The Sentra offers a perfectly functional, practical cabin, however. As a tall fellow I had more than enough room up front. Gauges were clear as a bell, and all other controls were a snap to use. But I was frequently annoyed with a squeaking driver’s seat on our 2012 test car with all of 6,000 miles on the clock. I was also disappointed at the lack of heated seats-they can be had on a Sentra, but only the top-spec SL model. The cabin is showing its age much moreso than the exterior, but again, the biggest letdown was the Sentra SR’s sporty exterior styling revealing a drab, dull, and completely uninspired interior.

With the exception of the SE-R and Spec V Sentra’s, all models share the same 2.0L four cylinder rated at 140hp. With this engine, only the base Sentra can be had with a manual transmission, all other models share a CVT. Acceleration felt about average for this class of car, and EPA fuel economy ratings of 27/34  city/highway MPG are OK but well behind the numbers a Hyundai Elantra can achieve. On a cold January weekend here in Connecticut, the Sentra seemed to take forever for its engine temp to warm up. Cruising at 35mph with the engine, which is no model of silky smoothness itself but at a constant buzzy 2,000 rpm the Sentra was annoying as all heck until she finally warmed up enough. Once warmed up, the Sentra still felt far less refined than its newer competition, in terms of ride quality and overall refinement.

The 2012 Nissan Sentra 2.0 SR has a base list price of $17,990USD, which includes the exterior bits described earlier, foglights, six-speaker audio with iPod interface. Our test car added splash guards, floor mats, and the Special Edition Package that included Navigation, XM Satellite radio, XM NavTraffic, USB port, keyless entry and ignition, Bluetooth, moonroof and unique 16″ alloys. Total tally, including destination comes to $20, 320. That is a pretty decent amount of features for the price paid here.

The Sentra represents a decent value for the amount of features you get, but in the end this is a dated, tired car that has outlived its useful life. The bottom line is that in the intervening years the Sentra has been around, the competition has seriously stepped up its game. To be sure, the Sentra will do all that is asked of it-reliable, economical transportation. And the market has spoken-in 2011, the Sentra was Nissan’s second best-selling car in the US behind the Altima. In my opinion, newer models like the Ford Focus, Chevy Cruze, Hyundai Elantra and Mazda3 simply offer a far more engaging driving experience and refinement the Sentra cannot match. Value is one thing, but in a market as hotly contested as this, resting on your laurels simply won’t do in 2012.

2011 Nissan Sentra Spec-V tackles Winter roads in Gary Indiana

As I write this, I’m riding in the back of an airport limousine heading north from Montreal to Mont Tremblant where I will spend tomorrow at Porsche’s Camp4 winter driving experience. While the plush riding Lincoln bounces along on the less than smooth highway, I’m struggling to keep my netbook in one place long enough to type one word at a time. It would be tempting to say this is one of the worst stretches of road I’m been on, but that honour goes to a stretch of I-90 that I encountered last week in Indiana.

After miscalculating my flight bookings to cover the 2011 Chicago Auto Show, I did a bit of a scramble to see what fuel sipping four cylinder press cars were floating around the Toronto area on short notice. Given that my first event in Chicago was a Nissan dinner, it made sense to wheel a Nissan product. A couple of quick messages set me up with a 2011 Sentra SER Spec-V. Not exactly a fuel sipper, but with snow tires asnd a six speed manual, it was close enough to being a rally car that it could make quick work of anything the snow Gods could throw my way. Did I mention that my drive was 2 days after the snow storm that crippled the Chicago area?

Little did I know that I would use much of the Spec-V’s performance capabilities along the way.

Unlike Sentra’s of years gone by, the interior materials of the current generation Sentra are easily the equal of any other compact on the market.. The cabin is quiet and rattle free, with little road noise being transmitted to the interior, despite the high performance snow tires it was shod with. The Spec-V model comes with supportive sport seats that are adequate for a track day, which also means that my bad back was nicely supported for the 9 hour drive. My tester was equipped with XM satellite radio, which meant I could keep my iPod stowed and still remain more or less sane during the drive.

With 200 horsepower on tap, the Spec-V has more than enough stones to to make stoplights fun. The torque curve peaks at 180 lb/ft which arrives at 2800 rpm, which means that a cruising speed of around 80 miles per hour is easy without creating a bunch of noise. Thanks to the 6 speed manual transmission, I managed to spend less than $200 on gasoline for a total of 18 hours worth of driving. Not to shabby for a potential track day weapon.

The track ready suspension and brakes, coupled with the Michelin Pilot Alpin Winter tires were the perfect match for the disaster that is I-90 as it winds its way through Gary, Indiana.

Through this section, the interstate becomes a narrow 2 lane highway, with no shoulder on either side. To compound matters, the recent snows have been plowed to the LEFT side of the road, which makes the road basically a lane and a half wide 55 mph zone. The road takes all sorts of twists and turns as road crews do whatever it is they are doing. As if all of this wasn’t enough, it seems like there is a pothole the size of a Bugeye Sprite every 20 or 30 yards.

I have driven stage roads that were smoother than this!

For about maybe 10 miles, the Spec-V and I both went into attack mode. Keeping the revs up to stay in the power band as I dodged dolts and divots, the Sentra just soaked up the bumps that I wasn’t able to avoid. All the while, the Alpins kept a tenacious grip on the slushy, icy washboard and the limited slip diff kept wheelspin to a minimum.

I don’t know if anyone, anywhere is rallying a Spec-V, but someone should. It really is a beast on the rough stuff!