2020 Hyundai Elantra Sedan vs. 2019 Nissan Sentra

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The Hyundai Elantra Sedan 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 Elantra Sedan (except SE)’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 Elantra Sedan’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 Elantra Sedan (except SE/SEL/Eco) offers an optional Blue Link, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions, remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or 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 Elantra Sedan 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, 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 Hyundai Elantra Sedan is safer than the Nissan Sentra:

Elantra Sedan




4 Stars

4 Stars




Neck Injury Risk



Neck Stress

230 lbs.

305 lbs.

Neck Compression

67 lbs.

70 lbs.



4 Stars

4 Stars




Chest Compression

.6 inches

.8 inches

Neck Injury Risk



Neck Stress

186 lbs.

218 lbs.

Neck Compression

96 lbs.

137 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

182/35 lbs.

523/219 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 flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Hyundai Elantra Sedan is safer than the Nissan Sentra:

Elantra Sedan


Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.8 inches

1 inches

Hip Force

454 lbs.

569 lbs.

Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

17 inches

Spine Acceleration

39 G’s

42 G’s

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

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Elantra Sedan its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Sentra was last qualified as only a standard “Top Pick” in 2017.


The Elantra Sedan comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Sentra’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

Hyundai’s powertrain warranty covers the Elantra Sedan 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Nissan covers the Sentra. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Sentra ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The Elantra Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Sentra’s (7 vs. 5 years).


J.D. Power and Associates rated the Elantra Sedan second among compact cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Sentra isn’t in the top three.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are better in initial quality than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 7th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.

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


The Elantra Sedan has more powerful engines than the Sentra:



Elantra Sedan Eco 1.4 turbo 4-cyl.

128 HP

156 lbs.-ft.

Elantra Sedan 2.0 DOHC 4-cyl.

147 HP

132 lbs.-ft.

Elantra Sedan Sport 1.6 turbo 4-cyl.

201 HP

195 lbs.-ft.

Sentra CVT 1.8 DOHC 4-cyl.

124 HP

125 lbs.-ft.

Sentra 1.8 DOHC 4-cyl.

130 HP

128 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Car and Driver the Elantra Sedan Eco is faster than the Nissan Sentra (automatics tested):



Zero to 60 MPH

7.8 sec

9.5 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

21.9 sec

32.2 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

8.4 sec

10 sec

Quarter Mile

16.2 sec

17.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

87 MPH

81 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Elantra Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the Sentra:


Elantra Sedan


Eco 1.4 turbo 4-cyl.

33 city/41 hwy

SE 2.0 DOHC 4-cyl.

31 city/41 hwy

SEL/Value/Limited 2.0 DOHC 4-cyl.

30 city/40 hwy



1.8 DOHC 4-cyl.

27 city/35 hwy


1.8 DOHC 4-cyl.

29 city/37 hwy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Elantra Sedan Eco’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Sentra doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifies the Hyundai Elantra Sedan as a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle” (PZEV). The Nissan Sentra is only certified to “Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (SULEV) standards.


The Hyundai Elantra Sedan comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Sentra.

The Elantra Sedan offers an available sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Sentra doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Elantra Sedan Sport’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Sentra:

Elantra Sport


Front Rotors

12 inches

11 inches

The Elantra Sedan stops much shorter than the Sentra:



70 to 0 MPH

166 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Elantra Sedan Limited’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Sentra (225/45R17 vs. 205/55R16).

The Elantra Sedan Sport’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 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 Elantra Sedan Sport has standard 18-inch wheels. The Sentra’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Elantra Sedan Sport has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Nissan Sentra has a solid rear axle, with a non-independent rear suspension.

The Elantra Sedan has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Sentra’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Elantra Sedan is .9 inches wider in the front and 1.4 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Sentra.

The Elantra Sedan Limited handles at .84 G’s, while the Sentra SL pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Elantra Sedan Limited executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.5 seconds quicker than the Sentra SL (27.2 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.7 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

Passenger Space

The Elantra Sedan has .9 inches more front headroom, 2.5 inches more front hip room, 1.5 inches more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear headroom, 1.8 inches more rear hip room and 1.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the Sentra.

Cargo Capacity

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Elantra Sedan Value Edition/Eco/Sport/Limited’s trunk can be opened just by waiting momentarily behind the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Sentra doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

The Elantra Sedan has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Sentra doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

A maintenance reminder system is optional on the Elantra Sedan to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Nissan doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Sentra.


When two different drivers share the Elantra Sedan Limited, the optional memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The Sentra doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Elantra Sedan Limited’s optional Seat Easy Access glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Sentra doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Elantra Sedan’s power window, power lock and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The Sentra’s power window (except driver window) and power lock switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Elantra Sedan’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the Sentra’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Elantra Sedan Sport/Limited 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 Elantra Sedan Limited 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 Elantra Sedan’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 Elantra Sedan Limited with available tilt-down mirrors 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.

Both the Elantra Sedan and the Sentra offer available heated front seats. The Elantra Sedan Limited also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Sentra.

The Elantra Sedan has a 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. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Sentra SV/SR/SL.

Model Availability

The Hyundai Elantra comes in sedan and station wagon bodystyles; the Nissan Sentra isn’t available as a station wagon.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Elantra Sedan owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Elantra Sedan will cost $530 to $1985 less than the Sentra over a five-year period.

The Elantra Sedan will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Elantra Sedan will retain 45.03% to 46.12% of its original price after five years, while the Sentra only retains 40.44% to 41.81%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Elantra Sedan is less expensive to operate than the Sentra because typical repairs cost much less on the Elantra Sedan than the Sentra, including $74 less for a water pump, $54 less for a muffler, $46 less for front brake pads, $3 less for a starter, $134 less for fuel injection, $212 less for a fuel pump and $101 less for a timing belt/chain.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Hyundai Elantra Sedan will be $2594 to $2635 less than for the Nissan Sentra.


Consumer Reports® recommends the Hyundai Elantra Sedan, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Nissan Sentra isn't recommended.

Car and Driver performed a comparison test in its July 2016 issue and they ranked the Hyundai Elantra Sedan Limited higher than the Nissan Sentra SL.

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

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