MPG-o-Matic Nissan Sentra Review Summary: . The Sentra slots in between the entry-level Versa and more stylish Altima in Nissan’s lineup. The Sentra is a well-proven commuter that takes it all in stride, with MPGs that hit the mark.
With the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla as primary competition, the 2009 Nissan Sentra is marketed as being “powerful enough to keep up with your life.” The Sentra is available in three levels of trim: Base, S, and SL. The sporting Sentra SE-R and SE-R Spec V models round out the range.
All Sentras other then the more powerful SE-R models are equipped with a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine, mated to a six-speed manual or Xtronic continuous variable transmission (CVT). The Sentra’s inline four produces 140 horsepower (HP) and 147 foot pounds of torque.
The official gas mileage estimates for the 2009 Nissan Sentra are 24 city / 31 highway miles per gallon (MPG) for the manual transmission and 25/33 for the CVT.
We inched past the official estimates for our CVT-equipped Brick Red 2009 Nissan Sentra 2.0 SL review unit, scoring an average of 34.1 MPG on the Interstate highway, with 28.9 MPG combined. Test period temperatures ranged from the teens through twenties, with freeway speeds between 60 and 72 miles per hour (MPH).
Note: We’d expect a bit more, under better conditions. But given the cold temperatures and the fact that our test unit had just over 500 miles on it when delivered, we’re not at all disappointed with our initial results. The numbers should creep up a bit, given a proper break-in period and warmer weather. (The heater was cranked up and the heated seats were on constantly throughout our test drives.)
The Sentra provides an average fuel economy display in the central-mounted trip computer, along with distance to empty, average speed and trip time data. The Sentra’s trip computer does not provide a real-time MPG gauge, however. We’d urge Nissan to include a factory-standard real-time MPG gauge in the 2010 models, to help drivers achieve the best possible mileage.
We saw negligible difference in fuel economy between driving with the cruise control on or off at highway speeds, with the Nissan Sentra 2.0 SL’s CVT transmission. (This is often not the case with modern six-speed automatics, which can yield significant benefits when driving carefully with the cruise off.)
We might say it over and over, but it always bears repeating. Getting the best mileage is all about knowing when to let off the gas. The greater the distance you drive with your foot completely off the accelerator pedal, the higher your MPGs.
The Sentra SL includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel, with integrated audio and Bluetooth controls. Phone syncing is a straightforward affair. We found the leather appointed seats to be handsome and supportive, although legroom in the back is a bit tight.
The 2.0 SL Premium Plus package provides heated driver and front-passenger seats, along with a power sliding sunroof.
Our test unit was equipped with the optional 8-speaker 340-watt Rockford Fosgate Audio Package. iPod integration comes via audio input jack. XM satellite radio is included, along with two 12-volt power outlets.
All-in-all, we found the Nissan Sentra to be a comfortable performer with a willing engine, good handling, and respectable fuel economy. It’s safe to say that the Sentra’s bound to continue find a home in many a commuter’s parking spot for many years to come.
Fuel requirements: Regular-grade gasoline.
Government Safety Ratings: The Nissan Sentra is rated five stars for frontal crash (driver & passenger) and side crash/front. It’s rated at four starts for side crash/rear and rollover.
Assembly/Parts Content: The Nissan Sentra is assembled in Aguas, Mexico.
– by Daniel Gray
February 3rd, 2009
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