2008 Nissan Sentra Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Nissan Sentra Sedan

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Nissan Sentra Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission CVT Automatic
  • Horse Power 177 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 24/30 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2008 Nissan Sentra

  • With its exceptional passenger room, the 2008 Nissan Sentra is a reasonable choice for buyers in need of an economy sedan that doesn't feel compact. Just don't expect much in the way of driving excitement, even on the SE-R models.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Very spacious seating front and rear, straightforward control layout, quiet highway ride, speedy SE-R Spec V model.

  • Cons

    Engine drone gets tiresome with CVT, so-so handling, ride quality can be harsh, manual gearbox's clunky shift action.

  • What's New for 2008

    ABS, cruise control and a security system become standard fare on 2.0 S models, while all 2008 Nissan Sentras gain auto-up convenience for the power driver window. Satellite radio is standard on the Sentra 2.0 SL. A manual transmission is no longer available on the base 2.0 model.

Full 2008 Nissan Sentra Review

What's New for 2008

ABS, cruise control and a security system become standard fare on 2.0 S models, while all 2008 Nissan Sentras gain auto-up convenience for the power driver window. Satellite radio is standard on the Sentra 2.0 SL. A manual transmission is no longer available on the base 2.0 model.

Introduction

No longer does owning an economy sedan mean you'll be holding your breath or retracting limbs as you wedge yourself into a pint-size compact. On the contrary, many of these cars are now sized to accommodate 6-foot adults in any of their seats, and the 2008 Nissan Sentra in particular meets the EPA's "midsize car" classification. If you're tall but need a car that's affordable, this is very good news.

The Sentra's size is a product of its tall hatchback underpinnings -- its platform is derived from the Megane, a family-oriented, European-market hatch engineered by Nissan's partner Renault. In most other respects, the French connection is scarcely apparent, as the Sentra is styled to look like a miniature Maxima on the outside and employs Nissan's familiar industrial aesthetic on the inside. Not everyone will find this approach to cabin design attractive, but it's certainly functional. All the controls are exactly where you'd expect them to be and storage areas are abundant in number and variety.

Another advantage to the Nissan Sentra is its variety of engines. The base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine provides 140 horsepower and a livable compromise between performance and economy when paired with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) that Nissan offers in lieu of a conventional automatic. Those seeking a little more speed can choose either the medium-hot Sentra SE-R, which has a 177-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder, or the truly hot Sentra SE-R Spec V with its higher-revving, 200-horse version of that engine.

If speed on the cheap is what you're after, the Spec V is an impressive deal given its under-$21K price tag and 6.7-second 0-60-mph time. Handling is another matter, though. Although the SE-R models have more aggressive running gear than the lower trims, their non-independent rear suspension design and tall, blocky dimensions make them less adept through the corners than competitors like the Honda Civic Si, Mazdaspeed 3, Subaru WRX and Volkswagen GLI.

Ride quality is an issue on all Nissan Sentras, as even the softer-tuned 2.0 models are unable to shield occupants from bumps and ruts the way most economy sedans can. Accordingly, we'd advise prospective Sentra buyers to try the Hyundai Elantra, which offers comparable interior room and a more compliant ride. Other good options include the Civic, Mazda 3, Mitsubishi Lancer and, for those with slightly higher spending limits, Volkswagen's Jetta. These cars aren't quite as roomy, but all offer a superior ride/handling balance and, in many cases, higher-quality cabin furnishings. That's not to say you wouldn't be happy with a 2008 Nissan Sentra, as it's a competent car in most respects. However, with so many qualified small sedans in this price range, consumers should shop around until they find a car that meets their needs exactly.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

Offered in sedan form only, the 2008 Nissan Sentra comes in five trim levels: 2.0, 2.0 S, 2.0 SL, SE-R and SE-R Spec V. The base 2.0 trim includes 15-inch steel wheels, a split-folding rear seat, air-conditioning, a CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack, and power windows and locks, but isn't eligible for many options. Most buyers will prefer the midrange Sentra 2.0 S, which adds 16-inch steel wheels, a height-adjustable driver seat, keyless entry, cruise control, power mirrors, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a trip computer. Step up to the 2.0 SL and you get alloy wheels, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless start, satellite radio, Bluetooth and an overhead CD storage container. Many of the SL's features are optional on the S. Options on both include a sunroof, a Rockford Fosgate sound system, a spoiler and a trunk divider.

The Sentra SE-R offers most of the SL's conveniences, but keyless start, satellite radio and steering-wheel audio controls move to the options list. Additional equipment on the standard SE-R includes 17-inch alloy wheels, firmer suspension tuning, larger brakes, a lower body kit, cloth-upholstered sport seats, aluminum-trimmed pedals, and oil pressure and G-force gauges. The SE-R Spec V supplies summer tires, an even firmer and lowered suspension, even larger front brakes and additional interior enhancements. Note that the Spec V has a rear reinforcement brace that prevents the rear seats from folding. The sunroof and Rockford Fosgate stereo are optional on both SE-R models. Only the standard SE-R is eligible for keyless start, and only the Spec V can be fitted with a limited-slip front differential.

Powertrains and Performance

All Nissan Sentra 2.0 models are motivated by a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine good for 140 hp and 147 pound-feet of torque. A CVT driving the front wheels is standard on base 2.0 and 2.0 SL models, while S buyers can get either the CVT or a six-speed manual gearbox. The EPA rates fuel economy at 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway with the CVT and 24/31 with the manual.

The CVT is also standard on the SE-R, which has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder good for 177 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. More hardcore in personality, the SE-R Spec V gets a high-output version of this engine capable of 200 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. The Spec V's motor also has a higher redline (7,000 rpm versus the standard SE-R's 6,200), and can only be matched to a six-speed manual with it. The Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V gets to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds.

Safety

Front-seat side airbags and full-length head curtain airbags are standard on every 2008 Nissan Sentra. Antilock brakes are standard on all except the base 2.0 model, which has ABS as an option. The SE-R models have four-wheel disc brakes, but other Sentras still have rear drums.

The Nissan Sentra earned a perfect five stars in government-administered frontal-impact crash tests. It earned five stars for front-occupant protection in side impacts and four stars for the rear.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Nissan Sentra's cabin offers a modern design, well-organized controls and generally agreeable materials quality. Both SE-R models have black seat cloth with red stitching, but red front seatbelts are exclusive Spec V fixings. Seating is spacious, with ample room for tall adults to get comfortable in both the front and rear. The downside is that the Sentra's driving position can be awkward for those under 6 feet tall: The steering wheel doesn't telescope, and the dash and door panels feel unnaturally high. Storage space is abundant in the Sentra, and luggage capacity is a respectable 13.1 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

Handling is adequate but uninspiring in the Nissan Sentra. The car's electric power steering is well weighted, but there isn't much road feel. The SE-R models, particularly the Spec V, fare better in this regard and can be driven quite hard on curvy roads. Compared to similarly priced peers, though, the Spec V feels ungainly and fails to involve its driver as closely as a true sport compact should. Still, the SE-R models offer plenty of power. The Spec V is particularly entertaining, as its engine combines a generous amount of low-end torque with a free-revving personality. Unfortunately, the manual gearbox is awkward and unsatisfying to shift.

In 2.0 form, the 2008 Nissan Sentra is a decent performer. The base engine is reasonably smooth, with adequate power for easy highway driving, though the CVT allows it to drone on at high rpm more than a conventional automatic would. Ride quality is fine on smooth blacktop, but limited suspension travel results in considerable harshness over bumps. The firmly tuned Spec V can get downright uncomfortable during commutes.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews



Two years and going strong.

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Nissan Sentra 2.0 S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)

I bought my 2008 Sentra second hand exactly two years ago; figured I'd give it the credit it deserves by writing a review. Overall, I truly love this car. It's a perfect size (even when moving back and forth from school), very economical (I get from Buffalo, NY to NYC on one tank of gas), reliable, and easy on the eyes. It's at 36k now, so I realize Nissan is going to abandon me for the most part warranty-wise, but I'm not worried because it's been an angel so far.




2008 nissan sentra problems

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Nissan Sentra 2.0 S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)

Just bought a 2008 Sentra May of 2013 with 67000 miles on it and now have to replace the engine at 83000. Have been in contact with nissan and they WILL NOT stand behind it, said we are 2nd owners of the car.... I not sure what to do from here



9 of 9 people found this review helpful

Cvt transmission

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Nissan Sentra 2.0 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)

This is the third transmission installed on my 2008 Nissan Sentra. After 67,672 miles the first one broke down where the car had to be towed 95 miles to the Nissan Dealer. The second one broke down at 68,845, only 2 weeks after getting it back, 173 miles. Nissan extended their warranty on this CVT transmission, because of the problems, from 5 years 60,000 miles to 10 years 120,000 miles. Since the transmission broke down at 7,672 miles from the initial warranty, the BBB advised the Lemon law cannot be applied since it is after the initial warranty 5 years 60,000 miles even though it was extended. Nissan being aware of this will not buy back the vehicle but just keeps replacing the transmissi




Poor servide

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Vehicle: 2008 Nissan Sentra 2.0 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)

Do not buy a Nissan if you ever expect to need parts. Tree limb fell on car damaging roof. Have been waiting for roof and attenna for over seven weeks. At four weeks wrote Nissan customer service but no response. Also talked to dealer where I purchaes Orland Park Nissan Illinois and was told nothing they could do. Its now 8 weeks and still back order.




Good basic transportation with suspension

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Nissan Sentra 2.0 S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)

I bought a used 2008 Sentra with about 60k miles. Overall it is a good car, very spacious interior, and good gas mileage (35 mpg on highway). However, there have been suspension issues. As you can see on some Nissan owners' forums, the rear wheels are permanently out of alignment. This is an easy fix - a tire shop can install a shim kit. If you don't do that, you will burn through tires. Soon after that, one of the front wheel bearings started making a loud rumbling. That was replaced, but the ABS sensor was rusted into the hub and had to be replaced - ABS sensor is $200. Fuel filler door stopped working - plastic cable end broke.




I love my sentra!

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Nissan Sentra 2.0 S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)

I bought my Sentra used from a dealership in early 2010, it was originally a rental car so had a few extra miles on it. I have put over 40,000 miles on it mainly driving back and forth from TN to FL for school and I have never had any problems. It's a great car, gets good gas mileage on the highway and I have not had problems with an "uncomfortable ride" I only recently replaced my tires & brake pads but the car has 70,000+ miles on it now. I've had no issues with the engine or anything under the hood, but I do get regular oil changes and maintenance checks since I do so much highway driving. Everyone always thinks my car is newer than an 08, I love it!



Talk About The 2008 Sentra

2008 Nissan Sentra Discussions See all Started By

alexk20
alexk20
07-12-2014
Hi Guys need help asap!!! I have a nissan sentra 2008(not svt) automatic.. the problem is that the car is stuck in first gear and whatever gear i try to shift to with the shifter wont change anything ...


busiris
busiris
05-08-2008
Does anyone know if the 2008 Sentra has a timing belt or timing chain?...


corkscrew
corkscrew
10-23-2008
Thanks for all the replies to my daughters request for info on a bare bones Versa. After checking prices for a Versa in the area, we found a dealer who has quite a few 2008 Sentras on the lot. There i...



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