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2013 Nissan Sentra Review

The 2013 Nissan Sentra sedan has more cabin and trunk space than most compact cars. However, it ranks near the bottom of the class because of its imperfect transmissions, poor reliability rating, and modest features list.

Pros & Cons

  • Ample rear-seat legroom
  • Large trunk
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Uninspiring handling
  • Loud CVT
  • Below-average reliability rating




Critics' Rating: 7.1
Performance: 5.9
Interior: 7.2
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.5
Safety: 8.4
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2013 Nissan Sentra Overview

Is the 2013 Nissan Sentra a Good Used Car?

You’ll get great fuel economy with a used 2013 Nissan Sentra, but you won’t get a good used car. Most of its compact car rivals are better. The Sentra struggles to reach highway speeds, and it performs worse on crash tests than most competitors.

Used 2013 Nissan Sentra Performance and Interior

The front-wheel-drive 2013 Nissan Sentra sedan has a 130-horsepower four-cylinder engine. Acceleration isn’t particularly strong on the highway, but it’s fine for city driving. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is available. Neither performs admirably. The manual’s shifts are rough, and the CVT is noisy under hard acceleration. The overall ride is good. It absorbs imperfections in the road and offers respectable handling. However, several competitors are more fun to drive.

The Sentra earns excellent fuel economy figures: 30 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Some trims include design features that improve fuel economy estimates by a few mpg.

Read more about Sentra performance »

The four-door, five-seat 2013 Nissan Sentra has a good-looking cabin made with quality materials. The Sentra’s standard features list is pretty bare, however. The front seats aren’t very comfortable, and it may take the driver some time to find a suitable position. The back seats, however, are exceptionally roomy for a compact car. The rear outboard seats have full sets of LATCH connectors for child safety seats, while the rear middle seat has an upper tether anchor. This sedan has a roomier trunk than most other compact cars. At 15.1 cubic feet, its trunk space is comparable to that of most midsize cars, like the Nissan Altima.

A four-speaker stereo and an auxiliary input jack come standard. An eight-speaker Bose stereo, satellite radio, a color display, a USB port, Bluetooth, a touch-screen navigation system, and a NissanConnect hands-free text messaging feature are available.

Read more about Sentra interior »

Used 2013 Nissan Sentra Prices

A used 2013 Nissan Sentra S base model with a six-speed manual transmission has an average price of about $7,400, while the CVT-equipped Nissan Sentra SL typically costs about $9,000. Pricing will vary depending on the car’s mileage, condition, location, and features.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

We Did the Research for You: 25 Reviews Analyzed

We base our used car rankings and reviews on an analysis of hard data – including crash test scores, reliability ratings, and total cost of ownership estimates – as well as the opinions of the automotive press. We researched and analyzed 25 Nissan Sentra reviews for this 2013 Sentra overview.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking vehicles for a decade, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of car industry experience combined. You can trust that our reviews are impartial because we never accept pricey gifts or trips from automakers, and another company takes care of our website's advertising.

How Reliable Is the 2013 Nissan Sentra?

J.D. Power gives the 2013 Nissan Sentra an abysmal reliability rating of two out of five, which is the worst score a car can receive.

See Sentra reliability scores »

How Safe Is the Sentra?

Most compact cars get a slightly better safety score than the 2013 Sentra. The Nissan received the top rating of Good in four of its Insurance Institute for Highway Safety evaluations (moderate overlap front, side impact, rear crash protection, and roof strength). However, it earned the lowest rating of Poor in the small overlap front evaluation. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety evaluations, it earned four out of five stars for overall safety, including four stars in the frontal and rollover crash tests and five stars in the side crash test.

The 2013 Sentra is available with a rearview camera.

See Sentra safety scores »

Is the 2013 Sentra the Best Model Year to Buy?

2013 was the first model year of the Nissan Sentra’s new generation. It may be pricier than some earlier models, but it’s worth the extra money. For 2013, the sedan received a more fuel-efficient engine and became available with the NissanConnect hand’s-free text messaging system with navigation. The 2013 model also received interior and exterior styling updates that lightened the sedan by 150 pounds.

Compare the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Sentra »

Which Used Nissan Sentra Is Right for Me?

The 2013 Sentra sedan is available in six trims: S (base), FE+S, SV, FE+SV, SR, and SL. The Nissan Sentra S comes with only basic standard features, including air conditioning, a four-speaker stereo, a six-speed manual transmission, and LED taillights.

Most shoppers will want to step up to at least the Nissan Sentra SV trim, which adds steering wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls, premium cloth seats, and a six-speaker stereo. The Nissan Sentra SR includes sporty style enhancements like a rear spoiler and a restyled front and back end. Both the SV and SR trims are also available with a couple packages that include technology features like navigation, push-button start, Bluetooth for phone, and automatic headlights. To avoid searching for a lower-trim model with the right package for you, go with the Nisan Sentra SL, which comes with nearly all of the Nissan Sentra SV and SR’s available package features, as well as dual-zone automatic climate control.

Models with an FE+ designation come with a CVT and aerodynamic body styling for slightly improved fuel economy estimates. Otherwise, FE+S and FE+SV models come with the same features as S and SV models.

Nissan also offers certified pre-owned vehicles. Given the Sentra’s low reliability rating, buying a CPO model may give you some peace of mind. Nissan extends the original new-car warranty to seven years or 100,000 miles. To become certified pre-owned, each vehicle must pass a 167-point inspection. Additional benefits like towing and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Nissan warranty page carefully.

The model's original sale date determines whether it is eligible for the CPO program.

Read more about certified pre-owned vehicles »

Read more about the Nissan certified pre-owned program »

2013 Nissan Sentra and Other Cars to Consider

Which Is Better: 2013 Nissan Sentra or 2013 Chevrolet Cruze?

The 2013 Chevrolet Cruze ranks near the top of the compact car class and, apart from cargo space, is the superior car. It offers a well-balanced and quiet ride, providing both cornering composure and ride comfort. The base model earns impressive fuel economy estimates, and some models with the available turbocharged engine are even more fuel-efficient. The Cruze has comfortable front seats and more standard and available features than the Sentra. It does share one flaw with the Nissan – a harsh transmission.

Which Is Better: 2013 Nissan Sentra or 2013 Honda Civic?

The 2013 Honda Civic is a better car than the Sentra in nearly every way, starting with its higher reliability and safety scores. While the Civic’s base engine is less powerful than the Sentra’s, it feels zippy on the highway and earns similar fuel economy estimates (28/30 mpg). A stronger engine is available in the sporty Civic Si. The Honda Civic also has a more composed ride and sharper steering than the Sentra. Inside, the 2013 Civic has top-quality cabin materials, supportive seats, and more standard technology than the Sentra. However, both cars have rough transmissions.

Compare the Sentra, Cruze, and Civic »


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