Enthusiasts will undoubtedly prefer the more powerful SE-R Spec V (especially since it adds a proper manual transmission), but for those who want some sporty flair in a daily driver, this may be your Sentra. The monochromatic exterior is attractive, the 2.0-liter plenty peppy, and although odd, the CVT does allow those who haven't mastered three pedals a crack behind the wheel. Better yet? Those in colder climates won't immediately have to spring for a new set of tires (the Spec V comes standard with summer performance rubber).

As Eric noted, our test car came relatively well equipped for $22,000 -- Nissan's iPod controls worked well, and I was very impressed with the display and interface on the company's new "budget" navigation system. An extra $3000 may buy a Volkswagen GTI -- and an extra heaping of power and sophistication along with it -- but those features will help push the price tag into the $30,000 realm. So long as you're not looking for a compact sedan that'll double as a track toy, the SE-R remains an interesting -- and relatively affordable -- option.

Evan McCausland, Web Producer

In Canada, the SER is actually cheaper than the US figure quoted here, and the SPEC-V is 6000$ less than a GTI, 10 000$ less than WRX ... giving it much value. And Sentras cost next to nothing to insure ... sleepers!
What the Sentra offers is rear-seat room for a car guy with three kids, two in boosters. The Spec-V's thirst for premium made me go with a manual 2.0S, and that car's suspension copes very well with the broken pavement of my commute.

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