2009 Nissan Sentra Review
2009 Nissan Sentra Review
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Nissan Sentra model years
Nissan Sentra types
- SE-R Spec V
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Roomy seating for all occupants, simple control placement, quiet ride on the highway, added performance with the SE-R Spec V variant.
- Engine drone gets tedious with CVT, mediocre handling, stiff ride can be harsh, manual transmission's clunky shift action.
The 2009 Nissan Sentra has a number of updates that include a revised trunk lid, new cloth seat trim, standard automatic door locks, MP3 playback capability and a new premium package for the 2.0 SL model. Later in the model year, the "FE+" moniker is affixed to all Sentras except the manual-transmission 2.0 S and both SE-R trims. Ostensibly meaning "Fuel Economy Plus," the new name signifies a 1-mpg increase in fuel economy for those Sentras via a tweak to the engine computer. An "SR" trim level also makes a late debut -- it's essentially an FE+ 2.0 S with an SE-R-inspired body kit and 16-inch alloy wheels all thrown in at no extra cost.
The 2009 Nissan Sentra is a decent choice for an economy sedan, mainly because of its spacious cabin. However, other choices are better-rounded, particularly in terms of fun factor, even compared to the SE-R models.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2009 Nissan Sentra 2.0 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.11 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$143/mo for Sentra 2.0
Avg. Compact Car
Contemporary economy sedans have managed to shed the stigma of being cramped for anyone in the ballpark of median height and build. Thanks to cars like the 2009 Nissan Sentra, full-size adults no longer have to sacrifice space and comfort for affordability. The Sentra's interior roominess is a product of its tall hatchback underpinnings -- its platform is derived from the Mégane, 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's interior and exterior stay true to Nissan's recent design motifs. The interior, in particular, employs Nissan's familiar industrial aesthetic on the inside. Though some may disagree with that look, most will admit the cabin is functional, thanks to well-placed intuitive controls and plentiful storage bins.
Besides its spacious and thoughtfully designed interior, the Sentra offers a generous choice of engines. Base models come with a mild 2.0-liter engine that provides a livable compromise between performance and economy, while the SE-R and SE-R Spec V have their own variants of an extra-spicy 2.5-liter inline-4. So far, so good, right? However, in such a competitive segment, any fault is magnified and may be the deciding factor. Unlike many of its competitors, the Sentra's handling abilities are merely mediocre, and consequently, this isn't the most enjoyable small car to drive. You might think that at least the Sentra would deliver a more luxurious ride in return. But such is not the case, as road imperfections are felt throughout the cabin, creating a relatively choppy ride.
This quality and other minor faults contribute to make the 2009 Nissan Sentra a rather midpack choice for a small sedan. Overall, we think cars like the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, Mitsubishi Lancer and Volkswagen Jetta are better all-around choices. Many of these cars also have sporty variants that overshadow the SE-R. Though these competitors may lack the interior space of the Sentra, their athleticism and ride quality may appeal to those who expect a bit more from their cars.
Performance & mpg
Nissan Sentra 2.0 models come equipped with a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 140 horsepower and 147 pound-feet of torque. Power is routed to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) or a six-speed manual gearbox (2.0 S only). Fuel economy for the CVT registers an EPA estimated 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 28 mpg in combined driving, while the manual transmission drops fuel economy slightly to 24/31/27 mpg. Concurrent with the debut of the FE+ versions, fuel economy numbers for CVT-equipped models increase by 1 mpg across the board.
The Sentra SE-R's engine is bumped up to 2.5 liters and cranks out 177 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. A CVT with manual shift control is the only transmission available on the SE-R. For those with an appetite for power and performance, the SE-R Spec V massages the same 2.5-liter engine to produce a higher-revving 200 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. The only available transmission for the Spec V is a six-speed manual. In testing, we clocked a Spec V from zero to 60 mph in a quick 6.7 seconds. The added performance hinders fuel economy, but only slightly -- the SE-R manages 24/30/26 mpg and the Spec V returns 21/29/24 mpg.
The entire 2009 Nissan Sentra line comes standard with front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Antilock brakes are an option for the base 2.0 model and are standard on all others. The higher-performing SE-R models come with four-wheel disc brakes, while the others have rear drums.
In government crash testing, the Nissan Sentra earned a perfect five out of five stars for frontal and side impacts for front passengers and four stars for rear passengers in side impacts.
In general, the 2009 Nissan Sentra is a competent performer. The 2.0 models provide an adequate amount of smooth power, but the CVT tends to keep the revs a bit elevated at highway speeds, and this constant drone can get tiresome on long trips. On smooth tarmac the ride quality is suitable, but when things get rough, the Sentra's short suspension travel tends to be rather harsh. The steering wheel has an acceptable amount of weight to it, but the electric power steering delivers very little feedback to the driver.
Those looking for performance will naturally gravitate to the SE-R models. Either variant is at home blasting through twisty canyon roads, but the sharper Spec V is clearly more adept, with its free-revving and torque-laden engine delivering plenty of lively fun. However, compared to other sport compacts in their price range, the SE-R Sentras isolate the driver from the road a bit too much, and the Spec V's manual shifter is awkward and imprecise when moving through its gates.
Inside, the 2009 Sentra carries over Nissan's modern industrial design, with well-placed controls and decent materials. The cabin is spacious, comfortably accommodating taller adults in any seat. Smaller drivers, however, may feel a bit buried in the car due to the Sentra's high dashboard and door panels and a non-telescoping steering wheel. Storage within the cabin is convenient, with several generous bins. Trunk space is also good, with an available 13.1 cubic feet.
2009 Nissan Sentra models
The 2009 Nissan Sentra is offered in five trim levels: 2.0, 2.0 S, 2.0 SL, SE-R and SE-R Spec V. Later in the model year, the "FE+" moniker (signifying an engine computer tweak that improves fuel economy by 1 mpg) is affixed to all Sentras except the manual-transmission 2.0 S and both SE-R trims. The base model 2.0 includes 15-inch steel wheels, power windows and locks, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, air-conditioning and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. Add-ons for the base 2.0 are few.
The upgraded 2.0 S model is likely to be more popular among buyers. The S includes 16-inch steel wheels, driver seat height adjustment, keyless entry, cruise control, power mirrors, a trip computer, audio controls mounted on the steering wheel, and a six-speaker stereo with MP3 capability. Later in the model year and for no additional cost, buyers may choose the "SR" trim level that is essentially an FE+ 2.0 S with an SE-R-inspired body kit and 16-inch alloy wheels all thrown in at no extra cost.
Opting for the 2.0 SL trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels, leather seating, keyless ignition and entry, satellite radio, Bluetooth and overhead storage for CDs. Many of the SL's standard features are available as options for the 2.0 S. Options available for either S or SL trims include a sunroof, heated front seats, a rear spoiler, a trunk divider and an eight-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system with a six-CD changer. As with other Nissans, these options are grouped into larger, more expensive packages, making ordering stand-alone options impossible.
The Sentra SE-R trim level heaps on more amenities to the SL trim, but keyless start, satellite radio and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls are available only as options. Standard features for the SE-R include 17-inch alloy wheels, more performance-minded suspension tuning, larger brakes, a lower body kit, cloth sport seats, aluminum-trimmed pedals and gauges for oil pressure and G-force. The SE-R Spec V further enhances the SE-R's sporting nature by adding higher-performance tires, an even firmer and lower suspension, larger front brakes and racier interior trim. One drawback to the added performance of the Spec V is a reinforcement brace that prevents the rear seats from folding. Both SE-R models offer options of a sunroof and the Rockford Fosgate sound system, but keyless ignition and entry are only available on the standard SE-R. A limited-slip front differential is only available on the Spec V.
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4 out of 5 stars
Rimantas Aukstuolis, 10/09/2015
2008 Nissan Sentra 2.0 S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)
We bought the car new in 2008 and now have 111,000 miles. Normal maintenance, replaced part of exhaust system. Otherwise totally reliable.The "expert" review is critical of the ride smoothness. Let me be clear. This is the most comfortable riding car I have ever owned in over 40 years of car ownership. I attribute it to the French, Renault heritage of the chassis platform. If I have a … criticism of the suspension it may be that the smoothness of the ride does sacrifice some handling characteristics in that it is not nearly as sure footed as my Honda Civic or Subaru Legacy (rock solid). Build quality appears cheap but is functional and durable. Exterior I believe is classic. Smooth lines. Subsequent model years have messed up a fundamentally clean style. Interior is nothing fancy but comfortable seats, roomy with well placed controls. We bought a hybrid Honda Civic the same time we bought the Sentra for about $8,000 more. Honda was built better with higher quality components, inside and out and better gas milage but we sold the Honda and kept the Sentra for "around town" transport. It's just more comfortable, easier access, more capacity and almost as reliable and trouble free. Like an old pair of well worn slippers. Update: April 2017- still going strong at 111,000 miles. No serious issues. Great for around town. An additional thought. I have experienced relatively poor handling in snow despite using winter tires. A tire store (which has also done repairs and has an incentive to find things wrong) did note an alignment problem in the back end which they said could be fixed with shims but the process of fixing it could rapidly escalate if they broke any of the fittings which were corroded. I opted not to fix and drive on, being careful in snow (with winter tires) and not noticing any appreciable, unusual tire wear. I mention this as there have been other postings which refer to the same alignment problem. At October 2016, 119000 miles still going strong. Headlight burned out and I had garage replace all front lights because change meant removing headlight assembly, not just twisting out a socket as on other cars. Also developed hole in exhaust ahead of catalytic converter. Garage rewelded and saved me $1900 for new converter. My old Honda had stainless exhaust which is significant. Passenger side auto door lock now buzzes when I unlock. Annoying. It will fail at some point. Repair isn't worth it as it would require disassembly of inside door panel. April 2017 = 125,000 miles. New tires (Kumho). Rolls right along. October 2017 = 127,000. Oil change, no issues. October 2018 = 135,000 no issues. Replaced rear drum brakes and pads (first time!). April 2020 = over 145,000 miles. Only issue was rotting rubber intake tube between air cleaner and manifold. This caused engine to stop at low rev's. Easy fix for under $200.00. Otherwise runs very well.
2.5 out of 5 stars
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
5 out of 5 stars
Best little car I've ever owned
2009 Nissan Sentra FE+ 2.0 S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)
Bought this car with the idea to save money in the future to counter possible rising gas prices, and I was surprised at the design and overall quality. The CVT tranny is a little weird at first, but it's a great performer. Some may say it's boring, but if you just want to drive and not worry about shifting or rpm's then this is the one. Torque right off the bat is good, you can feel it … in the seats, once car is at the speed you want, rpm goes down low, and it's quiet, surprisingly quiet on the freeway for a small car. Small on the outside, roomy on the inside. Big trunk, good styling, and fairly wide. It's comfortable enough for my commute, AC kicks butt, a real quality motor, quiet at idle.
4 out of 5 stars
Terry Reiber, 04/03/2017
2008 Nissan Sentra 2.0 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT)
Sentra gets good gas mileage, cheap to insure and repair. Sentra is easy to drive, average comfort. The CVT works well, with the car running about 2,000 rpm at 60 mph. The CVT is tuned for mileage, so 0-30 feels a little wheezy because the transmission tries to maintain lows revs while accelerating. The car warms up or cools down quickly because of the "egg" shape of the cabin. … Cheap to buy second hand. The Sentra is a little bit of an ugly duckling. The cab forward design (front and back wheels moved forward and aft) leaves the handling a little clumsy and uninspiring at low speeds, however the car really stretches out and works great on the highway. I can fit into the car easily at 6 feet. If your a taller person, or looking for an econo box that works well on the highway and fits 4-5 people, take a look. As a second hand vehicle, they sell for cheap and cost very little to maintain and insure, while fuel economy is very good. I would recommend it for the person who is less than discerning in terms of low speed handling and acceleration, but more interested in a fiscally conservative, reasonable ride.
We have a limited number of reviews for the 2009 Nissan Sentra, so we've included reviews for other years of the Sentra since its last redesign.
2009 Sentra Highlights
|Combined MPG||27 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$143/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
NHTSA Overall Rating
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of RolloverNot Rated
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestNot Tested
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestNot Tested
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood