The 2013 Nissan Sentra

Getting more for less
By Zoe Ackah, Special Features Editor
Zoe Ackah, Special Features Editor
Zoe Ackah, Special Features Editor
July 29, 2013 Updated: July 29, 2013

It’s a battle of price, gadgets, and operating costs—a battle on a global scale. The weapons of the C segment: affordability, pragmatism, and above all, fuel economy. 

In the North American market, cars like these are like your home. If you commute, you may spend as much time in your car as you do in your home while awake. 

But North America is not the sole driver of this market. The 2013 Nissan Sentra is a prime example of a car designed for multiple markets and a global audience.

Tim Franklin, Sr. Manager Product Planning, Nissan Canada, was in Japan as the new Sentra was developed. “This vehicle, to a large extent, was shaped by China and the Chinese customer.”

The Sentra is a comparatively large, luxurious car in China so it needed a roomy backseat for the illustrious passenger being chauffeured. It needed to be elegant with lots of premium features, something key in that market. 

The 1.8L SV Sentra I drove, the “every-man’s” model in Canada, was equipped with LED taillights, remote keyless entry, push-button ignition, a touch screen stereo with Bluetooth and SiriusXM satellite radio, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. 

Yes, it’s super roomy and has an alarming number of bells and whistles for the price point ($15,990 for the S, $16,990 for the FE+ s, and $17,390 for the SV) because of China’s needs, at least in part. 

Canadians made their contribution too. “Canadian’s use these cars for everything,” said Franklin. So the Chinese can thank us for the “cavernous trunk” apparently. I love me some cavernous trunk! It’s got 60/40 split rear seats for hauling Canadian lumber, or a freezer full of moose meat, as need be. 

The 1.8L SV Sentra I drove had a CVT transmission, which was a little awkward and grasping, not to mention a little weird sounding. But the result is segment dominating fuel economy, provided you’re not lead-footed. 

And that’s key. To get the 30 mpg city 39 mpg highway, you need to drive very conservatively. You need to be the type of person who will get into a car and not even notice it has a CVT transmission.

If you drive more aggressively, you may get 28 mpg combined like I did. FE+ S and SV models are standard equipped with this CVT, but if you start with the base S, driving manually may be better in that case. Going that route will offer a little more engagement, and save you $600.

Zoe Ackah, Special Features Editor
Zoe Ackah, Special Features Editor