150 Pounds Lighter, 34 MPG CombinedIt's not a radical departure or anything, but Nissan's redesigned 2013 Sentra is lighter, more aerodynamic, and more fuel-efficient, and those are steps in the right direction. It's a matter of personal taste, but the 2013 Sentra's exterior design looks better to me than the previous generation, which to my eye always looked like the lines and proportions of the hood and trunk were wrong. This one is closer to a baby Altima, and I suspect that will appeal to many people.
2013 Sentra: Fuel Economy
The new 2013 Sentra gets 40 miles per gallon (MPG) on the highway if you pick the FE+ model, and 39 MPG in the regular CVT configuration. This compares well with the 34 MPG of the 2012 Nissan Sentra CVT. In the city, the 2013 Sentra is rated at 30 MPG, while the 2012 Sentra was rated at 27 MPG (that's for the CVT transmission, the 6-speed manual was rated at just 24 MPG). This adds up to a combined MPG rating of 34 for the 2013 model vs 30 MPG for its 2012 predecessor. That's a 13.3% improvement in the combined MPG number, which isn't bad for car that got bigger.
Under the Hood of the 2013 Nissan SentraThe 2013 Sentra has an all-new downsized engine. While the previous generation had a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder powerplant, this one has a 1.8-liter that produces 130 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque.
"Now displacing 1.8-liters, Sentra's advanced DOHC 4-cylinder engine offers a longer stroke than typical engines in its class, resulting in improved combustion speed and efficiency. The engine is equipped with a twin Continuously Variable Timing Control (CVTC) system which modulates both the intake and exhaust valve opening time (similar to that used on the flagship Nissan Maxima).
The engine's internal friction has been reduced, improving efficiency. The DLC creates about half the friction of previous coatings. In addition, the valve springs are shaped similar to a beehive, with a smaller diameter towards the top - reducing inertia weight, improving valvetrain efficiency and smoothing engine operation."
The 2013 Sentra is 150lbs lighter than the previous generation. That 5% reduction in weight, which partly comes from the smaller displacement engine, helps fuel economy, especially in city driving where you stop & start more often and have to use more fuel to fight inertia.
The continuously variable transmission (CVT) is also new: "The new CVT features a host of enhancements (versus the previous CVT) that contribute to an improvement in fuel efficiency and lower vehicle weight. It also offers a wider gear ratio of 7.3:1 through use of a sub-planetary gear and smaller pulleys, resulting in high-speed fuel efficiency at low rpm and responsive acceleration."
Rear seat legroom of 37.4 inches is among the largest in class and immediately apparent to occupants, even with the front seats in the rear-most position. The rear seat is a standard 60/40 split folding design, offering versatile access to the 15.1 cubic feet of trunk space (2.0 cubic feet larger than the 2012 Sentra trunk).
I'm a lot more excited about the second generation of the all-electric LEAF, or about other electric models from Nissan, but the bread & butter Sentra is a relatively high-volume sales vehicle, and it's good to see that it is getting more fuel-efficient.