Good For: You can have any engine as long as it's the MRA8DE. All trim levels of the Sentra have been downgraded to the little 130hp 1.8L motor. The CVT has two modes which brings a refreshing amount of control back to the driver. ECO will seek opportunities rumble at a constant low RPM regardless of what speed you are driving. Sport starts you off the line with a very short gear and keeps the RPMs high, facilitating faster gear ratio responses based on power demands from the throttle. I liked being able to choose between ECO and Sport, almost changing between them like I would change gears as I anticipated my next move on the road or in traffic.
Compromises: Unfortunately, Nissan buried these interesting transmission buttons on the most inconvenient place on the dashboard under the trunk release and next to the traction control. Come on, transmission controls belong near the transmission selector!
Overall reaction - Thumb down: Nissan is focusing the Sentra on a target audience that doesn't care about things like engine options, transmission selectors, and handling. But it's hard to tell what Nissan is targeting at all with the Sentra. It is not noticeably bigger than the Versa, yet is much more expensive, weighs 500 pounds more, and is less efficient. Like the Versa, the tall body shape provides more room than other sedans in the price range, but the sedan-only configuration limits versatility.