2008 Nissan Sentra and Sentra SE-R Spec V

2008 Nissan Sentra and Sentra SE-R Spec V 2008 Nissan Sentra and Sentra SE-R Spec V


Nissan’s economical and practical four-door Sentra underwent a serious overhaul for 2007 and remains largely unchanged for 2008. In the Nissan lineup, the Sentra is priced above the slightly smaller Versa and below the larger Altima. The Sentra sports a high roofline that is great for interior space—once inside, you’ll be surprised at all the room—but also raises the center of gravity, which gives the car an occasionally tippy feel. The interior materials aren’t quite as good as we’ve come to expect in the Sentra’s segment; in fact, Nissan’s less-expensive Versa has a better-looking interior than the Sentra.

All Sentra models have front-wheel drive and are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 140 horsepower or a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is available with either 177 horsepower or 200 horsepower. A six-speed manual is available on some versions of the Sentra, but most are powered by a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that takes the place of a conventional automatic transmission.

Sentras come in five different trim levels: 2.0, 2.0S, 2.0SL, SE-R, and SE-R Spec V. Regular Sentras powered by the 2.0-liter engine are quite dull from behind the wheel and offer little in the way of excitement. If you want a bit more sport and fun, many of the Sentra’s competitors offer a superior driving experience. Still enamored of the Sentra? Then the sportier and more powerful SE-R and SE-R Spec V versions might just be the ticket.

Major competitors to the Sentra include the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Spectra, Scion xD, Suzuki SX4, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cobalt, Pontiac G5, Saturn Astra, Volkswagen Rabbit, and Mazda 3.


The Sentra is a mid-to-bottom-of-the-pack entry in a competitive and burgeoning segment. Versions powered by the 2.0-liter are dull and appliancelike but offer excellent fuel economy with a manual transmission or the gearless CVT. Although there is little joy or fun in the base Sentra, the quick and spirited SE-R version goes a long way toward turning a boring car into something that one can get at least a little excited about. But even in SE-R guise, the Sentra lacks the inspiration and fun-to-drive nature of some of its competitors.

Click here to read our full review of the Nissan Sentra SE-R and SE-R Spec V.

Click here to read our latest comparison test involving the Nissan Sentra.

Click here to read our latest comparison test involving the Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V.

What’s New for 2008

For 2008, the Sentra gets a few bits of additional standard equipment, and some options groups are shuffled around.