2019 Nissan Sentra vs. 2019 Volkswagen Golf

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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 as “Superior.” The Golf scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

Both the Sentra and the Golf 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, available blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

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

 

Sentra

Golf

 

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

293

454

Neck Stress

305 lbs.

352 lbs.

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

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Nissan Sentra is safer than the Volkswagen Golf:

 

Sentra

Golf

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

202

247

Spine Acceleration

42 G’s

45 G’s

Hip Force

515 lbs.

834 lbs.

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

Warranty

The Sentra comes with free roadside assistance for 3 years 36,000 miles. Nissan will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Golf.

There are over 66 percent more Nissan dealers than there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Sentra’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Nissan vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 24th, below the industry average.

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 Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 24 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 19th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 2 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

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 Golf doesn’t offer a CVT.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Sentra has larger tires than the Golf (205/55R16 vs. 195/65R15).

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 Golf S’ standard 65 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 Golf S.

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 Golf doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Sentra’s wheelbase is 2.5 inches longer than on the Golf (106.3 inches vs. 103.8 inches).

For better maneuverability, the Sentra’s turning circle is 1 foot tighter than the Golf’s (34.8 feet vs. 35.8 feet).

Passenger Space

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

The Sentra has 2.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Golf (95.9 vs. 93.5).

The Sentra has 1 inch more front headroom, 1.3 inches more front legroom and 1.8 inches more rear legroom than the Golf.

Ergonomics

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 Golf doesn’t offer extendable visors.

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 Golf 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 Golf doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Sentra is less expensive to operate than the Golf because it costs $387 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Sentra than the Golf, including $148 less for a water pump, $45 less for a muffler, $7 less for front brake pads, $344 less for a starter and $253 less for front struts.

Recommendations

The Nissan Sentra outsold the Volkswagen Golf/GTI by over five to one during 2018.

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

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