At over 100,000 miles and still in operation, I have been impressed with the reliability of my 2.0L Sentra. This is especially impressive because I am an aggressive driver and like to floor the pedals, slam the brakes, and tear through the gears with joy.
About two thirds of my driving is done on local, stop-and-go roads, and this fact only adds to my positive experience.
Take into mind that I have performed all regular recommended maintenance on my SE-L and am quite anal about it. I keep spreadsheets, records of all labor and parts paid for, and contact information in an organized filing system.
I also have taken the time to do lots of on-line research with other 2.0L Sentra owners/communities, so as to familiarize myself with the engine, chassis, ownership experience, etc. I am an enthusiast for this body-style Sentra (1995-1999).
Lastly, I have had aftermarket modifications done on my Sentra, both cosmetic and performance-related. These include: short throw shifter, stiffer sway-bars, semi-metallic brake pads, racing-type header, and aftermarket stereo/CD unit. I also use synthetic oil, brake fluid, and transmission fluid to prolong life of the parts and prevent damage with my agressive driving style.
Driving and owning this car has been an unbelievable blast! It's nice to own an economical, sporty compact that not everyone knows about. It's low profile and reliable. Everyone else can keep their Corollas and Civics!
I know owners who have taken their Sentras (1991-1999 body/engine style) to about 250,000 with regular maintenance. I would not hesitate to buy another car in this year or earlier. I have heard too many negative experiences with later model years, however, and would not purchase those.
I plan on keeping this car until it dies, and after wards will try to find another 1998-1999 Sentra with the 2.0L engine.