2020 Toyota Corolla vs. 2019 Nissan Sentra

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Corolla has standard Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats, which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats system allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Sentra doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Corolla has a standard Secondary Collision Brake, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Sentra doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The Toyota Corolla 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 Corolla’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 Corolla’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 Corolla has standard Safety Connect, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to 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 Corolla 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 and available blind spot warning systems.

Warranty

Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Corolla for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Nissan doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Sentra.

There are over 13 percent more Toyota dealers than there are Nissan dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Corolla’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Corolla first among compact cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The Sentra isn’t in the top three.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 29 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. Nissan is ranked 14th.

Engine

The Corolla’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 15 more horsepower (139 vs. 124) and 1 lbs.-ft. more torque (126 vs. 125) than the Sentra CVT’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. The Corolla’s 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 9 more horsepower (139 vs. 130) than the Sentra’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. The Corolla SE/XSE’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 39 more horsepower (169 vs. 130) and 23 lbs.-ft. more torque (151 vs. 128) than the Sentra’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

 

 

 

MPG

Corolla

 

Manual

SE 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

29 city/36 hwy

 

Auto

1.8 DOHC 4 cyl.

30 city/38 hwy

 

 

XLE 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl.

29 city/37 hwy

 

 

SE 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

31 city/40 hwy

 

 

XSE 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

31 city/38 hwy

Sentra

 

Manual

1.8 DOHC 4 cyl.

27 city/35 hwy

 

Auto

1.8 DOHC 4 cyl.

29 city/37 hwy

Transmission

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

A standard “hill holder” feature keeps the Toyota Corolla from rolling backwards on a steep slope. The Sentra doesn’t offer a hill holder feature.

The Toyota Corolla has a downshift rev synchronizer that automatically raises engine speed to make downshifts perfectly smooth. This keeps the car from lurching during downshifts, preventing loss of control during cornering. The Sentra doesn’t offer a downshift rev synchronizer.

Brakes and Stopping

The Toyota Corolla has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Rear drums are standard on the Sentra. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Corolla SE/XSE’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Sentra (225/40R18 vs. 205/55R16).

The Corolla SE/XSE’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 Corolla SE/XSE has standard 18-inch wheels. The Sentra’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Toyota Corolla 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 rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

For better maneuverability, the Corolla’s turning circle is .7 feet tighter than the Sentra’s (34.1 feet vs. 34.8 feet).

Passenger Space

The Corolla has 2.1 inches more front hip room, .1 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom and .9 inches more rear shoulder room than the Sentra.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Corolla easier. The Corolla’s trunk lift-over height is 25.5 inches, while the Sentra’s liftover is 27.1 inches.

Servicing Ease

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the Corolla 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.

Ergonomics

The Corolla (except L/LE/Manual) offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Sentra doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The power windows standard on both the Corolla and the Sentra have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Corolla is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Sentra prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Corolla’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Sentra’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

If the windows are left open on the Corolla the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. (Your Toyota service department must activate this window function.) The driver of the Sentra can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Corolla 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 Corolla XLE/XSE offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Sentra doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Corolla’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.

Model Availability

The Toyota Corolla comes in sedan and four-door hatchback bodystyles; the Nissan Sentra isn’t available as a four-door hatchback or station wagon.

Recommendations

The Toyota Corolla outsold the Nissan Sentra by 43% during 2018.

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

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