2013 Nissan Sentra First Drive

With over 10 brands to choose from within the Morrie’s Automotive group, one could easily find a number of cars that he or she would love to take on a road trip. Cars like the Nissan GT-R, Cadillac CTS-V and Bentley GT come to mind, but what would you think about spending 200 miles in a Nissan Sentra. Admittedly, the Nissan Sentra would not be my first choice for a half-day road trip, but I must say that after spending four-plus hours in a new Sentra I was pleasantly surprised. For a number of reasons, the Sentra easily complements any road trip.

My journey brought me from our Nissan store in Brooklyn Park, out to Willmar and back. Upon picking up the Sentra in Brooklyn Park, the first thing I thought was that the Sentra sure has come a long way. My second thought was that you can buy a lot of car for 22 grand these days.

My chariot for the day featured leather interior, keyless entry with push button start, backup camera, navigation, bluetooth connectivity for streaming audio and telephone, dual zone automatic climate control, real time weather, plus much more. A lot of these are features that you would have found only on high-end cars only 5-7 years ago. I was looking forward to trying out all of the aforementioned options on my trip, but was most interested in seeing how the fuel economy ratings of 34mpg city and 39mpg highway stacked up to real driving conditions. I’ll get to more on this later.

In the recent past, I would have tried to cover the 90 miles each way as quickly as possible, but perhaps old age and having a baby strapped into the back seat has slowed me down a bit. Instead of hammering the gas pedal and setting the cruise at 70mph plus, I opted to hit the eco button and settle into a comfortable pace just north of the speed limit. Immediately, I got stuck behind a cube truck, but I didn’t let it bother me, rather I just took a deep breath and enjoyed my surroundings.

From the inside, the 2013 Sentra is equipped quite nicely. While rarely am I able to get comfortable in a new car, I immediately felt at home in the Sentra. The seat exhibited a good combination of support and comfort, while the controls were all well within reach. The cabin was roomier than expected, with ample room for my “well fed” 6 foot 1 inch frame. Whereas our rearward facing child seat cannibalizes front passenger legroom in many cars, it appeared that a front passenger could still sit comfortably in the Sentra. If a lack of whining and crying is any indicator, my son also enjoyed the rear seat comfort of the Sentra.

As the miles accumulated on Highway 12, we passed through the cities of Delano, Montrose, Howard Lake, Cokato and Litchfield. While it was not the most picturesque stretch of road, I did see some interesting roadside relics along the way. The sights included a number of derelict tractors and an old commercial truck doing a wheelie, as a result of an enormous tree strapped to its frame. I did enjoy driving through each small city and seeing the unique charm of each, including the Hollywood theater in Litchfield and a variety of small mom and pop restaurants. Despite the fragrant farm air outside the car, I can conclude that the cabin filter did its job. The only foul air found inside the Sentra came from my 10-month old in the back seat.

After roughly two hours of meandering down highway 12, and dealing with the stop light induced slowdowns in towns every five miles or so, I reached Willmar. After a brief stop I turned around and resumed my trip in reverse. When it was all said and done, I traveled just under 200 miles and put in about four hours of seat time. To put icing on the cake, the Sentra delivered average fuel economy of just under 46 miles per gallon, well above its 39mpg highway fuel economy rating. In nearly 200 miles the Sentra sipped only 4.3 gallons or $13.50 worth of gasoline.

On this road trip the Sentra was the real destination. The Sentra certainly exceeded my expectations and I would not hesitate to drive one again. If you haven’t checked out the redesigned 2013 Nissan Sentra I would highly recommend doing so. Morrie’s Brooklyn Park has one of the largest selections in the metro.

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