CVT transmissions are just fine, but not in a vehicle with any kind of sporting pretensions, like the Sentra SE-R. It does nothing for enthusiasts in terms of driving involvement. Sure, the paddle shifters help, but not enough. The SE-R can be a fun car with a manual transmission, but the CVT just numbs the entire experience.
As others have mentioned, engine power is lacking, interior quality and amenities need upgrading, and the exterior style is getting stale compared with its sport-compact competitors. However, steering is pretty tight and turn-in is quick and precise.
Overall the Sentra SE-R falls short in the pocket rocket category, though surprisingly, the price doesn't make up for that shortage. This particular test unit costs $22,600; that is $400 more than a base Honda Civic SI sedan and only $1000 less than a base Volkswagen GTI. It's also on par with a fully loaded Scion tC, a much more entertaining, if slightly smaller, car.
Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator