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The Mazda 3 has standard Whiplash Reducing Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash Reducing Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Sentra doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Mazda 3 offers optional Rear Smart Brake Support that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Sentra doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.
The Mazda 3 offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Sentra doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.
The Mazda 3 has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Sentra doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.
The Mazda 3 (except Base Sedan)’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Sentra doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.
The Mazda 3 offers an optional 360-Degree Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Sentra only offers a rear monitor.
The Mazda 3 =’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Sentra doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
The Mazda 3 has standard E911 Automatic Emergency Notification, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Sentra doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.
Both the Mazda 3 and the Sentra have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.
To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Mazda 3 has a standard 130-amp alternator. The Sentra’s 110-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mazda third in reliability. Nissan is ranked 14th.
The Mazda 3’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 62 more horsepower (186 vs. 124) and 61 lbs.-ft. more torque (186 vs. 125) than the Sentra CVT’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. The Mazda 3’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 56 more horsepower (186 vs. 130) and 58 lbs.-ft. more torque (186 vs. 128) than the Sentra’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl.
An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Mazda 3 Premium/Hatchback/AWD’s fuel efficiency. The Sentra doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.
The Mazda 3 comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Sentra.
For better stopping power the Mazda 3 AWD’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Sentra:
Mazda 3 AWD
The Mazda 3 has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Rear drums are standard on the Sentra. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.
For better traction, the Mazda 3’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Sentra (215/45R18 vs. 205/55R16).
The Mazda 3’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Sentra SR/SL’s 50 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Mazda 3 offers optional 18-inch wheels. The Sentra’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Mazda 3 is 1.5 inches wider in the front and 2 inches wider in the rear than on the Sentra.
The Mazda 3 Sedan is 6.5 inches shorter than the Sentra, making the Mazda 3 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
The Mazda 3 Sedan has 3.7 inches more front hip room, 1 inch more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear headroom and .8 inches more rear hip room than the Sentra.
The Mazda 3 Auto offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The Sentra doesn’t offer a remote starting system.
When two different drivers share the Mazda 3 Preferred/Premium, the memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each keyless remote activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The Sentra doesn’t offer a memory system.
The Mazda 3 Premium has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and warning light readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Sentra doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The Mazda 3’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Sentra’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.
The Mazda 3 Hatchback/Select/Preferred/Premium’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Sentra’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Mazda 3 (except Base Sedan) detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Sentra doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.
To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Mazda 3 Premium has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Sentra doesn’t offer cornering lights.
The Mazda 3’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Sentra’s power mirror controls are on the dash where they are possibly hidden by the steering wheel and are awkward to manipulate.
When the Mazda 3 Preferred/Premium is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Sentra’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
The Mazda 3 offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Sentra offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
The Mazda 3 comes in sedan and four door hatchback bodystyles; the Nissan Sentra isn’t available as a four door hatchback.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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