2019 Nissan Sentra vs. 2019 Kia Rio

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Sentra (except S)’s optional blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The Rio doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

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 Rio doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the Sentra and the Rio 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 and available crash mitigating brakes.

Warranty

The Sentra’s 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Rio runs out after 100,000 miles.

There are over 40 percent more Nissan dealers than there are Kia dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Sentra’s warranty.

Engine

The Sentra CVT’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 6 lbs.-ft. more torque (125 vs. 119) than the Rio’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. The Sentra’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 9 lbs.-ft. more torque (128 vs. 119) than the Rio’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Sentra Auto gets better fuel mileage than the Rio (29 city/37 hwy vs. 28 city/37 hwy).

The Sentra has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Rio (13.2 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

The Sentra offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The Rio doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

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 Rio doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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 Rio. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

The Sentra stops shorter than the Rio:

 

Sentra

Rio

 

60 to 0 MPH

129 feet

131 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

138 feet

140 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Sentra has larger tires than the Rio (205/55R16 vs. 185/65R15).

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 Rio’s standard 65 series tires. The Sentra SR/SL’s tires have a lower 50 series profile than the Rio’s 65 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Sentra S/SV has standard 16-inch wheels. Only 15-inch wheels are available on the Rio. The Sentra SR/SL has standard 17-inch wheels.

The Nissan Sentra’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Kia Rio 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 Rio 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 Rio’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The Sentra has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Rio doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Sentra’s wheelbase is 4.7 inches longer than on the Rio (106.3 inches vs. 101.6 inches).

The Sentra’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (59.9% to 40.1%) than the Rio’s (61.9% to 38.1%). This gives the Sentra more stable handling and braking.

Passenger Space

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

The Sentra has 6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Rio Sedan (95.9 vs. 89.9).

The Sentra has .5 inches more front headroom, .4 inches more front legroom, .6 inches more front shoulder room, 3.9 inches more rear legroom and .6 inches more rear shoulder room than the Rio Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The Sentra has a much larger trunk than the Rio Sedan (15.1 vs. 13.7 cubic feet).

The Sentra’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The Rio LX doesn’t offer folding rear seats.

Ergonomics

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Sentra 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 Rio doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

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 Rio S/EX.

The Sentra’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 Rio S/EX’s power windows’ switch has to be held the entire time to close it fully.

The Intelligent Key standard on the Sentra SV/SR/SL 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 Kia Rio doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Sentra (except S) offers optional heated front seats, which keep the driver and front passenger extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated seats aren’t available in the Rio.

The Sentra has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Rio 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 Rio doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

The Sentra SV/SR/SL’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Rio doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

For greater rear passenger comfort, the Sentra SL has standard rear heat vents to keep rear occupants more comfortable. The Rio doesn’t offer rear vents.

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 Rio doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

To direct the driver from any location to a given street address, a GPS navigation system is available on the Sentra (except S). The Sentra’s navigation system also has a real-time traffic update feature that offers alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Rio doesn’t offer a navigation system.

With available voice command, the Sentra offers the driver hands free control of the radio and the navigation computer by simply speaking. The Rio doesn’t offer a voice control system.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Sentra is less expensive to operate than the Rio because it costs $72 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the Sentra than the Rio, including $7 less for a muffler, $28 less for a starter and $29 less for front struts.

Recommendations

The Nissan Sentra outsold the Kia Rio by over 9 to one during 2018.

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

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