THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2007 Nissan Sentra SE-R sedan.
DOWN THE ROAD: Redesigned for 2007, this front-wheel-drive sport compact sedan is a pure delight to take out on the street regardless of weather conditions. At less than 2,900 pounds, the car absorbs road imperfections with relative ease, thereby proving its athletic and spirited character. You can pick from five trims to meet your budget as well as needs.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: The 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine offers 177 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 172 pounds-feet of torque at 2800 rpm. Mated to a standard 6-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission with steering-wheel paddle shifters, the SE-R is equipped with an independent front suspension and coil springs while the rear gets a torsion beam. Add a stabilizer bar to the suspension and you have an unwavering and smooth sedan. A speed-sensitive electric-power steering, which nixes the use of hoses or pumps, contributes to the fuel economy. When you need to stop, the 11.7-inch vented front and 11.5-inch solid rear discs come into play. In the SE-R, you have a quick sedan that gets up to speed in a few seconds and is prepared to slow down just as swiftly with abundant confidence.
LOOK & FEEL: That this isn't just a Sentra but an SE-R is evident in the sporty diamond-mesh black grille, distinguishable front and rear fascias, side-sill spoilers, rear spoiler and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Step inside and the black sport bucket seats with red stitching and embroidered SE-R logo will grab your attention. For a sedan under $20,000, such cabin touches as aluminum pedal pads, leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, oil and g-force acceleration/deceleration gauge meter pad, trip computer, center console with adjustable front cup holders, tilt steering column, etc. are laudable.
SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and side airbags, side curtain for both rows, front-seat active head restraints, four-wheel antilock brakes, front and rear crumple zones and a tire pressure monitoring system all are offered as standard features. Thank you, Nissan.
OUT THE DOOR: $19,400, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges. Go for the $750 Rockford Fosgate audio package if you want a eight-speaker 340-watt system with in-dash CD player, MP3 playback capabilities, among other amenities. The power-sliding sunroof with tilt feature and dual illuminated visor vanity mirrors are worth another $750.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P225/45VR17 all-season; wheelbase, 105.7 inches; length, 179.8 inches; weight, 2,853 pounds; fuel capacity, 14.5 gallons; highway, 33 mpg; city, 27 mpg.
WHY DIG IT: Prospective buyers looking to purchase a stylish, sporty, entertaining and fun-to-drive sedan should consider the Sentra SE-R. At under $20,000, this stylish car is priced just right.
Nitish S. Rele is an advertising staff writer for The Tampa Tribune.