1997 Nissan 200SX Review

Pros & Cons

  • Respectable performance in a package that won't attract undo attention from the bad guys with the radar guns.
  • The 200SX has a serious frontal weight bias that makes aggressive cornering dangerous.
Other years
Nissan 200SX for Sale
List Price Estimate
$421 - $979

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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 in 1995. 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 anti-lock brakes, power sunroof and a rear spoiler.

Nissan keeps changes for 1997 to a minimum, adding a spoiler to the base and SE models. 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.

1997 Highlights

A spoiler is now standard on all models. An additional exterior color is the only other change for 1997.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 Nissan 200SX.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

My Baby Girl
SE 2dr Coupe
I still have her at 607K+. Yes, a bit underpowered, but such a mechanically sound car. Simple maintenance and regular driving will keep this engine for many years and even 15 years later, is still a cute little car. Only aesthetic prob that exists w/lot of Nissans is that the paint decays faster - not sure why, but true. Man. tranny is one of the easiest and long-lasting - clutch replaced at 582K for 1st time. Was just in shop for radiator replacement (and brake pads) - original radiator so figure can't beat that. AC is still strong and has never needed work (other than hoses, etc.) and always a pleasure to drive. Will keep running her until she finally dies-Best car ever had.
Benjamin Woodward,04/12/2002
SE 2dr Coupe
700 word review...wow! amazing This car is awsome, great handling, great acceleration, quick, everything your looking for for a quick peppy car with cheap insurance! Is my first car, and i will continue to customize and keep up, as i look foward to having this car for years and years to come!
a great used car
SE-R 2dr Coupe
I've put a leadfooted 94,000 miles on my '97 200SX SE-R and am more than pleased. Other than a loose wire (dash lights blink out-bang the dash they come back on), a distributor wire problem causing intermittent sluggishness, I have no complaints. Still fun to drive, still performs almost like new (not quite as perky) and I have had no engine or transmission problems. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a reliable, compact used car for $3-5K. I plan on keeping mine for as long as I can though!
Like the Energizer bunny
SE 2dr Coupe
Not a bad little car. The only vehicle I've been in contact with that was more reliable was a Toyota Corolla. At nine years and 146,000 miles it still runs beautifully. The oil pressure sending unit developed a leak in 2002, which caused the alternator to die, but that's the only non-routine issue I've had to date. She's a little underpowered, but I can't complain too much. The back seat is very easy to get in and out of for a 2-door car.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
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 1997 Nissan 200SX

Used 1997 Nissan 200SX Overview

The Used 1997 Nissan 200SX is offered in the following submodels: 200SX Coupe. Available styles include SE 2dr Coupe, SE-R 2dr Coupe, and 2dr Coupe. Pre-owned Nissan 200SX models are available with a 1.6 L-liter gas engine or a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 140 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1997 Nissan 200SX comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Nissan 200SX?

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Which used 1997 Nissan 200SXES are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 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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Check out Nissan 200SX lease specials