Funny how memories are jogged sometimes. Could be from a scent, a sound or a sight. Spending a week with the new Nissan Sentra compact sedan brought back memories of the launch program a year ago in northern California including all the great roads, good food and wonderful wine we were treated to during our time there.
Fast forward a year from the launch program in northern California, and the 2013 Nissan Sentra is still one of the best vehicles in its segment. And a recent week with a Sentra SL reminded us of the ocean breezes, the scenic coastal highway, the low-lying fog and the scents from eucalyptus trees lining the roadsides.
Over the past year the Grinding Gears Garage has seen its share of compact entries and Sentra ranks high among all of them overall. Sure, there may be specific things favored in one model over another such as the styling of the Kia or the road handling of the Focus or Dart, but when tallying the scorecard at the end of the day Nissan rolls in with high marks.
The now seventh-generation car features significant styling upgrades inside and out setting it apart from competitors and telling consumers this is certainly of the Nissan clan. The DNA runs deep, all the way down to the CVT gearbox, a technology that finds itself in nearly every model in the showroom save for the trucks and sports cars. What the CVT brings to the Sentra is a powertrain response that is class-leading and leaves drivers wanting little when it’s “go time.”
The new Sentra and its peppy 130hp 1.8-liter four-banger not only delivers nearly 40 miles per gallon on the highway but keeps things interesting around town when using Sport mode, and even when being pushed quite a bit manages better than 30 mpg in the “your mileage may vary” department.
The car is very comfortable for front seat occupants and offers exceptional rear seat leg room, although headroom in the back row is on the slightly tight side of the scale when comparing apples to apples in this segment. Trunk space is very good, and it can accommodate a trip to the grocery store for both vittles and seasonal fare. Should things get tight, there one can merely flip down the rear seat backs for additional cargo options.
Technology highlights included the new Nissan Connect driver infotainment system that includes a navigational system with 5.8-inch color touch-screen display, NavTraffic and NavWeather along with a hands-free text messaging assistant, and streaming audio via Bluetooth and the system features Nissan Voice Recognition for hands-free operation.
Pricing for the 2013 Nissan Sentra SL begins at $19,760 with this tester rolling in at $21,370. Mazda may have invented the best tagline for small cars a number of years ago, but the Nissan Sentra certainly falls into the category of a “Great Little Car.”