2019 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo vs. 2019 Fiat 500

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Nissan Sentra SR Turbo are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Fiat 500 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 5 points, IIHS rates the Forward Emergency Braking optional in the Sentra SR Turbo as “Superior.” The 500 scores zero, and is rated by the IIHS as having no effective frontal crash prevention.

To help make backing safer, the Sentra SR Turbo’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The 500 doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the Sentra SR Turbo and the 500 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available daytime running lights and blind spot warning systems.

The Nissan Sentra SR Turbo weighs 438 to 585 pounds more than the Fiat 500. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Nissan Sentra SR Turbo is safer than the Fiat 500:

 

Sentra SR Turbo

500

 

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

293

384

Neck Stress

305 lbs.

406 lbs.

Neck Compression

70 lbs.

152 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

195/290 lbs.

436/571 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

3 Stars

3 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

45.4%

49%

Neck Stress

218 lbs.

256 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

523/219 lbs.

479/866 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Nissan Sentra SR Turbo is safer than the 500:

 

Sentra SR Turbo

500

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Restraints

GOOD

POOR

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

131

151

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

7 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Femur Force R/L

1/.1 kN

8.2/4.2 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

1.69%/.79%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Tibia index R/L

.66/.53

1.69/.79

Tibia forces R/L

1.5/.5 kN

6.4/4.8 kN

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Nissan Sentra SR Turbo is safer than the Fiat 500:

 

Sentra SR Turbo

500

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

108

166

Abdominal Force

184 G’s

199 G’s

Hip Force

569 lbs.

684 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

204

382

Spine Acceleration

57 G’s

70 G’s

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

3 Stars

HIC

202

225

Spine Acceleration

42 G’s

54 G’s

Hip Force

515 lbs.

1103 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Sentra SR Turbo the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 154 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 500 was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

Nissan’s powertrain warranty covers the Sentra SR Turbo 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Fiat covers the 500. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the 500 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are almost 3 times as many Nissan dealers as there are Fiat dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Sentra SR Turbo’s warranty.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Sentra SR Turbo’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the 500’s camshaft. If the 500’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Sentra SR Turbo’s reliability 19 points higher than the 500.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 59 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 29th.

Engine

The Sentra SR Turbo’s 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. produces 53 more horsepower (188 vs. 135) and 27 lbs.-ft. more torque (177 vs. 150) than the 500’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Sentra SR Turbo’s 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. produces 31 more horsepower (188 vs. 157) than the 500 Abarth’s optional 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Sentra SR Turbo’s 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. produces 28 more horsepower (188 vs. 160) and 7 lbs.-ft. more torque (177 vs. 170) than the 500 Abarth’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Sentra SR Turbo Auto gets better fuel mileage than the 500 Auto (27 city/33 hwy vs. 24 city/32 hwy).

The Sentra SR Turbo has 2.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the 500 (13.2 vs. 10.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

A six-speed manual is standard on the Nissan Sentra SR Turbo, with closer gear ratios for better performance and a lower final drive ratio for quieter highway operation, less engine wear and better fuel mileage. Only a five-speed manual is available for the 500.

The Sentra SR Turbo offers an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The 500 doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Sentra SR Turbo’s brake rotors are larger than those on the 500:

 

Sentra SR Turbo

500

Front Rotors

11.7 inches

11.1 inches

Rear Rotors

11.5 inches

9.4 inches

The Sentra SR Turbo stops much shorter than the 500:

 

Sentra SR Turbo

500

 

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

195 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Sentra SR Turbo has larger standard tires than the 500 (205/50R17 vs. 195/45R16). The Sentra NISMO’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 500 (215/45R18 vs. 205/40R17).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Sentra SR Turbo has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the 500. The Sentra NISMO’s 18-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels optional on the 500 Abarth.

The Nissan Sentra SR Turbo’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Fiat 500 only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

The Sentra SR Turbo has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The 500 doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

The Sentra SR Turbo has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the 500; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

The Sentra SR Turbo has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Sentra SR Turbo flat and controlled during cornering. The 500 base model’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Sentra SR Turbo’s wheelbase is 15.7 inches longer than on the 500 (106.3 inches vs. 90.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Sentra SR Turbo is 4.8 inches wider in the front and 5.2 inches wider in the rear than on the 500.

The Sentra SR Turbo’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (61.6% to 38.4%) than the 500’s (64% to 36%). This gives the Sentra SR Turbo more stable handling and braking.

The Sentra NISMO handles at .88 G’s, while the 500 Abarth pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Sentra SR Turbo’s turning circle is 2.8 feet tighter than the 500’s (34.8 feet vs. 37.6 feet).

Chassis

The design of the Nissan Sentra SR Turbo amounts to more than styling. The Sentra SR Turbo has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .29 Cd. That is significantly lower than the 500 (.352 to .362) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Sentra SR Turbo get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Sentra SR Turbo a Mid-size car, while the 500 is rated a Subcompact.

The Sentra SR Turbo has standard seating for 5 passengers; the 500 can only carry 4.

The Sentra SR Turbo has 20.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 500 (96 vs. 75.5).

The Sentra SR Turbo has .5 inches more front headroom, 1.8 inches more front legroom, 3.1 inches more front hip room, 5.3 inches more front shoulder room, 1.1 inches more rear headroom, 5.7 inches more rear legroom, 7.5 inches more rear hip room and 7.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the 500.

Ergonomics

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Sentra SR Turbo has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The 500 doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

The Sentra SR Turbo’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children from operating them. Fiat does not offer a locking feature on the 500’s standard power windows.

The Sentra SR Turbo’s driver’s power window opens or closes with one touch of the window control, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths. The 500’s power windows’ switch has to be held the entire time to close it fully.

The Sentra SR Turbo’s standard power window controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The 500’s available power window controls are spread out on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.

The Intelligent Key standard on the Sentra SR Turbo allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Fiat 500 doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Sentra SR Turbo has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The 500 doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Sentra SR Turbo has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The 500 doesn’t offer automatic headlights.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Sentra SR Turbo has standard extendable sun visors. The 500 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The Sentra SR Turbo has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The 500 doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The Sentra SR Turbo (except NISMO)’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The 500 doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Recommendations

The Nissan Sentra outsold the Fiat 500 by almost 40 to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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