Nuts & Bolts: 2013 Nissan Sentra

Bottom line: Bottom line: The 2013 Nissan Sentra gets a strong “buy” recommendation here. The well-crafted little car offers a lot for the money. It competes well in the crowded subcompact class.

Ride, acceleration and handling: It gets “good” grades in all three. “Good” means it will please most buyers who normally obey posted speed limits. Throttle jockeys will have to look elsewhere.

Body style/layout: It is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive subcompact economy car with a notchback trunk (in the SL version).

Head-turning quotient: It appears to mimic the Hyundai Elantra in exterior body design — fluidic sculpture and all that, which is okay. Both cars are pretty.

Engine transmission: The standard engine in all 2013 Nissan Sentra models is a 1.8-liter, 16-valve, in-line four-cylinder gasoline model with variable valve timing. It is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission.

Capacities: Seats five people. Cargo space behind the 60-40-split foldable rear seats is adequate — enough to hold four medium-size soft-sided overnight bags in real-world travel. The fuel tank holds 13.2 gallons of gasoline. Regular grade is preferred.

Real world mileage: I averaged 32 miles per gallon in mostly highway travel. City driving, with lots of stop-and-go traffic, yielded an estimated 25 mpg.

Safety: Standard equipment on the 2013 Nissan Sentra SL includes ventilated front disc brakes and rear drum brakes, four-wheel anti-lock brake protection, emergency braking assistance, electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability and traction control, and side and head air bags.

Price: The base price of the 2013 Nissan Sentra SL is $19,760 with a dealer’s invoice price of $18,428 on that model. Price as tested is $23,430, including $2,880 in options (onboard navigation with backup camera, premium sound system, power sliding glass roof, leather seat covering) and a $790 destination charge. Estimated dealer’s invoice price on that model is $22,500. Compare with any car in the subcompact category.

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