2019 Nissan Sentra vs. 2019 Ford Fiesta

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Sentra Automatic has standard Forward Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Fiesta doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

To help make backing safer, the Sentra (except S)’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 Fiesta doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the Sentra and the Fiesta 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, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras and available blind spot warning systems.

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 is safer than the Fiesta Sedan:

 

Sentra

Fiesta

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Restraints

GOOD

POOR

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head injury index

131

509

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

77 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

5 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

1/.1 kN

2.7/1.8 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

.86%/.57%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Tibia index R/L

.66/.53

.86/.57

Tibia forces R/L

1.5/.5 kN

5.7/3.4 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 is safer than the Ford Fiesta:

 

Sentra

Fiesta

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

108

130

Chest Movement

1 inches

1.2 inches

Abdominal Force

184 G’s

210 G’s

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

204

307

Spine Acceleration

57 G’s

96 G’s

Hip Force

865 lbs.

900 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

202

282

Hip Force

515 lbs.

719 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 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 154 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Fiesta was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Reliability

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’s reliability 25 points higher than the Fiesta.

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 Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 19 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 4 places higher in reliability than Ford.

Engine

The Sentra CVT’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 4 more horsepower (124 vs. 120) and 13 lbs.-ft. more torque (125 vs. 112) than the Fiesta’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. The Sentra’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 10 more horsepower (130 vs. 120) and 16 lbs.-ft. more torque (128 vs. 112) than the Fiesta’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Nissan Sentra is faster than the Ford Fiesta (automatics tested):

 

Sentra

Fiesta

Zero to 30 MPH

3.6 sec

4.3 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

9.7 sec

10.9 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

6.6 sec

6.9 sec

Quarter Mile

17.5 sec

18.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

81.1 MPH

79.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Sentra Auto gets better fuel mileage than the Fiesta Auto (29 city/37 hwy vs. 27 city/37 hwy).

Transmission

A six-speed manual is standard on the Nissan Sentra, 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 Fiesta.

The Sentra CVT has a standard 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 Fiesta doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Sentra’s brake rotors and drums are larger than those on the Fiesta:

 

Sentra

Fiesta

Front Rotors

11 inches

10.2 inches

Rear Drums

9 inches

7.9 inches

Opt Rear Rotors

11.5 inches

The Sentra SR/SL has standard antilock four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the Fiesta. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

The Sentra stops much shorter than the Fiesta:

 

Sentra

Fiesta

 

60 to 0 MPH

129 feet

142 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

138 feet

159 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Sentra has larger tires than the Fiesta (205/55R16 vs. 185/60R15). The Sentra S/SV’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Fiesta (205/55R16 vs. 195/50R16).

The Sentra S/SV’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Fiesta’s standard 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Sentra S/SV has standard 16-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Fiesta. The Sentra SR/SL’s 17-inch wheels are larger than the 16-inch wheels optional on the Fiesta.

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

The Sentra SV/SR/SL 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 Fiesta doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

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

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Sentra’s wheelbase is 8.3 inches longer than on the Fiesta (106.3 inches vs. 98 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Sentra is 2.5 inches wider in the front and 3.2 inches wider in the rear than on the Fiesta.

The Sentra SL handles at .84 G’s, while the Fiesta Sedan pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Passenger Space

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

The Sentra has 10.8 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Fiesta (95.9 vs. 85.1).

The Sentra has .3 inches more front headroom, .3 inches more front hip room, 2 inches more front shoulder room, 6.2 inches more rear legroom, .9 inches more rear hip room and 4.9 inches more rear shoulder room than the Fiesta Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The Sentra has a much larger trunk than the Fiesta Sedan (15.1 vs. 12.8 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Sentra easier. The Sentra’s trunk lift-over height is 27.1 inches, while the Fiesta’s liftover is 28.3 inches.

Ergonomics

The Sentra’s standard power windows allow the driver or passenger to lower and raise the windows without leaning over or being distracted. Power windows are only available on the Fiesta SE/ST-Line.

The Sentra 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 Fiesta doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Sentra 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 Fiesta has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the SE/ST-Line.

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

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

The Sentra SV/SR/SL’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 Fiesta doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Sentra SR/SL has a standard Intelligent Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Fiesta doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Economic Advantages

The Sentra will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Sentra will retain 40.44% to 41.81% of its original price after five years, while the Fiesta only retains 32.01% to 34.95%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Sentra is less expensive to operate than the Fiesta because it costs $126 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the Sentra than the Fiesta, including $36 less for a muffler and $30 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The Nissan Sentra outsold the Ford Fiesta by over four to one during 2018.

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

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