1996 Nissan 200SX Review

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

Enthusiasts have always lamented the loss of the econo-sport sedan that paved the way for cars like the Volkswagen GTI, the Dodge Omni GLH and the current Ford Escort GT. That sedan was called the BMW 2002, and it blended performance with function, offering within its sedate three-box shape the ability to speed undetected by police who were looking for brightly colored, finned and spoilered muscle cars to yank over to the side of the road.

The BMW was affordable fun, and most of the souped-up hatchbacks that followed it never adhered to the basic formula that the Bimmer embraced; simplicity in style, with an emphasis on performance and the driving experience. Most 'pocket-rockets' were painted in bright hues, with spoilers and ground effects and hood vents to give them the boy-racer look, which only attracted attention from speed enforcers.

Then along came Nissan, in the midst of a corporate change in philosophy that dictated that cars should be good looking and fun-to-drive. In 1991, Nissan gave us the 140-horsepower Nissan Sentra SE-R, a version of the Sentra coupe stuffed with a big four-cylinder engine, fat tires, and a tweaked suspension. Discreet fog lights, a small rear spoiler and attractive alloy wheels were the only external clues that indicated this was more than a regular Sentra coupe. The press affectionately labeled it the modern-day BMW 2002.

Nissan replaced the Sentra coupe with the 200SX last year. Three versions are available, and all of them are more roomy and refined than the old Sentra coupe. Base and SE models are affordable, sporty runabouts, but our favorite continues to be the zipster doofus SE-R. This is a smoother car than the brash and scrappy Sentra SE-R, but it has lost much of the charm of the original. The new SE-R is still lots of fun to drive, but it feels heavier and less responsive. Still, performance is its virtue, and it continues to possess the stealthy anonymity that made the Sentra SE-R so desirable.

Despite the rather dull styling and measly 115 horsepower engine, base and SE versions of the 200SX are more appealing than the coupe they replaced. Interiors are ergonomically correct, offering a fine driving position and room for four. SE models are well-trimmed, and can be equipped with antilock brakes, power sunroof and a rear spoiler.

Nissan keeps changes for 1996 to a minimum, putting body-colored door handles and outside mirrors on the SE and SE-R versions of the 200SX. Basically, we like this car. In a market saturated with good compacts, the 200SX can do battle with the best of them, particularly in SE-R attire.

1996 Highlights

Body-color door handles and outside mirrors are newly standard on SE and SE-R models.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1996 Nissan 200SX.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Killer car
SE 2dr Coupe
This car now has over 250K and still runs like a champ. It consistently gets 40 mpg. It handles like a Porsche when dodging things on the road. Winter driving is exceptional. New clutch at 180K, new water pump at 210K. Just rear-ended, minor flaking on bumper. Don't think I'll have it fixed as insurance company might try total it out just because of the bumper damage(cosmetic). Guy with the new Altima wasn't as lucky.
my little ninja
SE 2dr Coupe
I bought my teal nissan in '02 when I graduated high school. I put on 22,857 miles per year for 7 years. No major problems till this past year. I'm looking for another nissan because this lasted to 160,000 miles. I loved it, and hate to see it go
SE-R, How I Miss You.
J Riles,10/29/2006
SE-R 2dr Coupe
My first love, I haven't been the same since the accident. Advice to SE-R owners, take care of them. My favorite Civic eater, the performance is superb, the handling is great, and the potential is astonishing. Out of all my cars this was the greatest buy.
I loved my 200-SER
SE-R 2dr Coupe
I bought my 200 SE-R new in 1996. I love the way it drives, the excellent gas mileage, moon roof and durability. Although I had a 4 cyl, because of the engine it felt like a 6. Later I had my son, as he became older he enjoyed pressing the seat release to help him get in and out of the back. I later had to sell it in 2006 with 185,000 miles due to transmission. However, I think that came from letting other people drive it. I was sad to see it go, but thankful for giving me 10 great years as my first car.


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1996 Nissan 200SX

Used 1996 Nissan 200SX Overview

The Used 1996 Nissan 200SX is offered in the following submodels: 200SX Coupe. Available styles include SE-R 2dr Coupe, 2dr Coupe, and SE 2dr Coupe. Pre-owned Nissan 200SX models are available with a 2.0 L-liter gas engine or a 1.6 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 140 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1996 Nissan 200SX comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1996 Nissan 200SX?

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Which used 1996 Nissan 200SXES are available in my area?

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Find a used Nissan 200SX for sale - 9 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $19,685.

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Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan 200SX for sale - 11 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $15,940.

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Should I lease or buy a 1996 Nissan 200SX?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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