The compact sedan segment is getting crammed with new entrants, but no number of new players can change the fact that the Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra are the real legends of this segment. Both cars have been around for many decades, with their names born long before the advent of new compact cars.
If you are making a choice between the two, the choice will not be easy. Both the Toyota Corolla and the Nissan Sentra are exceptional compacts in their own rights, loaded with standard features that add value to their owners. When the Nissan Sentra was being widely recognized as the best-selling vehicle for Nissan during the 80’s, the Toyota Corolla was also busy making its own name as the best-selling Toyota.
While the two compact sedans are quite densely matched in almost every metric, one is certainly better than the other. Let us take a closer look at what each of them has to offer and find out which one suits you better.
Despite the Toyota Corolla seeming a bit less remarkable when placed alongside the Nissan Sentra, it has the versatility that Sentra cannot match. You will love how the 2020 Nissan Sentra’s platform is a couple inches lower and wider than before and how its overall appearance screams fluidity, but it does not make sense if you are looking for a sharp-looking compact sedan. Despite the Toyota Corolla looking a bit bland at first glance, you will notice how the sharp edges of all its three trims so perfectly complement its strong engine and sporty suspension. Joining the mix is its intimidating grille, which even adds more oomph to the car’s overall styling cues.
Unlike the Nissan Sentra, the Toyota Corolla is well equipped for its segment. In fact, even its base trim comes standard with amazing features that include new LED headlights and a premium-looking steering column. If you are shopping for a sedan and hoping for one with a more athletic look and tougher suspension, there is no doubt the Toyota Corolla is the better choice.
Inside the Toyota Corolla is a wealth of desirable goodies that come as standard in all Toyotas. The Nissan Sentra matches much of what the Corolla has to offer in this department, but it falls short in providing better comfort and a more desirable infotainment system. When it comes to comfort, you will love how the Nissan Sentra’s rear seats are spacious enough to accommodate two tall adults and how its trunk is thick and deep enough to offer ample cubic feet of storage space. Despite that, the Toyota Corolla is more equipped regardless of the trim you choose. Among the goodies the Toyota Corolla has that you will not find in Nissan Sentra are its 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay compatibility, and Android Auto. It also comes with a satellite radio, blind-spot monitors, and dual-zone automatic climate control—features that you will rarely find in other compact sedans.
Quite interestingly, the Toyota Corolla has all these features even in its base trim, and while the Nissan Sentra has a match for almost all of these, it does not have a standard smartphone integration feature that is a deal breaker for most car buyers.
Performance-wise, you will never go wrong with the Toyota Corolla. This compact sedan offers a broad range of engine options, so you have more freedom to choose how you want to power up your car. One important thing that the Toyota got right with the new Corolla is the introduction of a new 169-horsepower, 2.0-liter engine in its entry-level trims. Well, the base engine is still the 139-horsepower 1.8-liter engine carried over from its predecessor, but it’s great that you have a new option if you want more power from your Corolla. The Corolla hybrid sedan, which is designed to become the most fuel-efficient of all, uses the same 1.8-liter engine but it is paired with double electric motors to generate 121 horsepower. While this engine may be a bit more sluggish than its peers, it stands out when it comes to fuel efficiency. Regardless of the powertrain you choose, you can trust your Corolla’s engine to operate discreetly even when all-powered-up.
For now, the Nissan Sentra does not offer an alternative engine so you have no choice but to settle for its 149-horsepower, 2.0-liter CVT engine. New models of the Nissan Sentra have this engine under their bonnets, which is quite an improvement compared to its predecessor. This engine is also not a bad choice for a compact sedan, as it has a fuel economy of 29 mpg in its base trims and 28 mpg in its more premium trims. It is also worth mentioning that the new Nissan Sentra comes with a fresh rear suspension, which makes it more enjoyable to drive.
Overall, however, the Toyota Corolla still gets the performance advantage because of its better power, handling, and acceleration.
When it comes to safety, it is obvious that the new Toyota Corolla edges out its competition. While all Nissan Sentras are loaded with a slew of safety and security features that include blind spot monitors, lane departure warnings, automatic emergency braking system, rear cross traffic alerts, driver attention monitor and high beam assist, the safety features that the Toyota Corolla comes standard with are far more trailblazing than those of its rival. This should not come as a surprise, as the Toyota brand has always been known for going above and beyond when it comes to safety. Regardless of the trim you choose, your Toyota Corolla will come equipped with standard Toyota safety features that include adaptive cruise control, active lane control, high beam assist, automatic emergency braking, and more. Most of these safety features are found in Toyota cars alone.
Considering what they have to offer in terms of style, performance, technology, and safety, there is no doubt that both the Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra are two of the best compact sedans out there. If you are looking for more value, however, the Toyota Corolla is definitely the better choice. For more complete and detailed Toyota Corolla reviews, check out the Car Expert.