I agree with kstephen. I have the SE and really it is what makes the car. It may be the best 4 cyl ever built. I have the auto because of the wife's requirements. The auto-tranny went out right from the get-go. However I have had zero other problems after 13K. The vehicle is very well built. The vehicle is quite reliable. I get 34 mpg on trips. The seats are very comfortable. I would also try to get the 2001 SE. If I could not get the SE, I would consider the Protege.
Here is a link to Sentra Owners: