In the battle between competing Japanese sedans, which brand will win out? The Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla are both top-selling sedans in the US, celebrated for their reliability, their pleasing looks, fuel efficiency, and more. How do these top-selling sedans compare to one another when you put them side by side?
The Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla are fairly evenly matched compact sedans. The Nissan Sentra offers more room for cargo and costs slightly less. However, the Toyota Corolla is slightly more economical and offers complimentary maintenance for 2 years. It is also available in hybrid and hatchback forms, whereas the Sentra is only available as a bog-standard gasoline sedan.
The starting price is quite close, but the Nissan Sentra is the cheaper of the two models with a starting MSRP of $19,510. It’s available in 4 different trims, namely the Sentra S (from $19,510), SV (from $20,570), SR (from $22,100) and the SR Midnight Edition (from $22,795).
The Toyota Corolla base model starts at a higher $20,075 and there are a lot of trims on offer – 9 in total. That number includes a hybrid version, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid LE. The others are the Toyota Corolla L, LE, SE, SE Nightshade Edition, SE Apex Edition, XLE, XSE, and the XSE Apex Edition. The base-level LE starts at $20,075, the Hybrid LE at $23,650, and the top-end XSE Apex Edition at $28,360.
While the Toyota Corolla looks more compact in images, it is in fact about the same length and width as the Nissan Sentra. The front-end design on the Nissan Sentra is more aggressive and pronounced than that of the Toyota Corolla, which employs a sleeker, sportier, and more futuristic design. Both models feature a slight droop at the nose and fairly large front grilles, but the Sentra’s is oriented higher in place than the Corolla grille.
Toyota is a bit more generous when it comes to color options, allowing you to choose up to 16 colors for your Corolla, whereas the Nissan Sentra comes with a still-impressive 12 options. The Toyota Corolla also adds a rather nifty rear spoiler to the rear-end, which adds to the athleticism of the design.
Both the Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla feature simple, elegant, and straightforward interior design, but the Corolla offers a more streamlined dashboard, and greater use of soft-touch materials as standard compared to the Nissan Sentra, where the lower-cost trim levels still feature quite a lot of cheaper plastic.
If you prefer leather seating, however, an upgraded Nissan Sentra can deliver that whereas the Toyota Corolla only goes up to SofTex-trimmed sports seats at best. It’s not that SofTex isn’t a good material, but it doesn’t exactly feel as luxurious as leather.
Both offer a power tilting and sliding moonroof as standard in their higher trim models, which helps the interior pop even more.
The Nissan Sentra runs on a fairly standard Nissan 2.0L 4-cylinder unit that outputs 149-hp and 146 lb-ft of torque. This front-wheel drive (FWD) powertrain is paired with a CVT transmission.
Standard in the Toyota Corolla is a 1.8L 4-cylinder unit delivering 139-hp also paired with a CVT transmission. Buyers of the Corolla have another option, however, in the form of a 169-hp 2.0L unit with either a 6-speed manual transmission or the same CVT. Neither compact sedan offers all-wheel drive.
Build a Sentra with the independent rear suspension and one of the smaller wheel options at 16 or 17 inches, and you get a pretty comfortable ride, but that changes (even with upgraded suspension) when you ride on the larger 18-inch wheels.
The Toyota Corolla is relatively more agile and refined in its on-road performance than the Sentra, but it takes upgrading to the SE or XSE with sport-tuned suspension to get the most dynamic performance, which means the difference in handling isn’t dramatic with most trims.
Both models feature high-quality and effective braking performance, as well as precise steering, but the steering is only a “fun” part of the driving when you specifically set up the car with the right suspension and features.
This is a good point to mention the Toyota Corolla Hybrid option, which doesn’t offer a lot of performance credentials but does easily beat out any gasoline Toyota Corolla or Nissan Sentra in fuel efficiency.
Expect to get up to 53-mpg in the city and 52-mpg on the highway with your Corolla Hybrid. This is miles ahead (pun intended) compared to just 29-mpg in the city and 39-mpg on the highway from the Sentra, and a slightly better 31-mpg in the city and 40-mpg on the highway with the non-hybrid Toyota Corolla.
In terms of cargo space, the Nissan Sentra offers a bit more at 14.3 cubic feet compared to just 13.1 cubic feet in the Toyota Corolla sedan. This is with the rear seats upright, fold them down and you’ll more than double the cargo volume in either car.
Note that while it’s not the car we’re comparing in this comparison, the Toyota Corolla Hatchback offers the most trunk space at 17.8 cubic feet-but that extra cargo space comes with reduced legroom for rear passengers compared to the sedan form.
Speaking of rear legroom, both the Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla are, it seems, equally generous offering 34.7 and 34.8 inches of room respectively.
Technology & Features
Both car models offer infotainment touchscreens of up to 8 inches in size, and both feature physical knobs, which makes them easy to use while driving. Neither one offers a particularly impressive infotainment system, but we’ve definitely seen worse offenders.
They are both compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and both offer USB ports and Bluetooth streaming connectivity. The Nissan Sentra has one more USB port than the Corolla (3 vs 2), which could make a difference if every passenger needs to charge something.
When it comes to safety features, the Corolla is equipped with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which includes collision mitigation and pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, and automatic high beam headlights, lane departure alert, road sign assist and more.
Nissan is known for its generosity with ADAS features, and the Nissan Sentra doesn’t disappoint with the Nissan Safety Shield 360, giving automatic emergency braking, rear automatic braking, blind spot warning (optional only in Corolla), rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning and high beam assist.
Both cars get the maximum possible 5 star safety rating in NHTSA vehicle crash testing, but closer inspection reveals the Toyota Corolla performs slightly better in frontal crash testing than the Nissan Sentra.
The first car that springs to mind when you think of the Toyota Corolla or Nissan Sentra is undoubtedly the slightly pricier Honda Civic, which is probably the highest-rated non-luxury compact sedan on the market.
There’s also the Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte, which offer the most generous warranty and coverage.
Besides these cars from the far east, the Volkswagen Jetta is another compelling compact sedan that sits in the same price range.
The more fuel-conscious driver will benefit from the options presented in the Toyota Corolla range, which includes that ultra-efficient hybrid.
But when we compare the compact sedans fitted with internal combustion engines, there’s not an awful lot of difference. The Sentra benefits from a little more room in the trunk, and a slightly lower sticker price. The Toyota Corolla, on the other hand, gets you complimentary scheduled maintenance for 2 years and that all-important Toyota reliability.
Overall, we’d recommend test driving both cars at your local dealership to really decide on which car is better for your needs, because on paper they’re quite evenly matched.
|2022 Nissan Sentra||2022 Toyota Corolla Sedan|
|Engine||2.0L Inline-4 Gas||1.8L Inline-4 Gas|
|Horsepower||149 hp @ 6400 rpm||139 hp @ 6100 rpm|
|Torque||146 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm||126 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm|
|Transmission||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)|
|Drivetrain||Front-Wheel Drive||Front-Wheel Drive|
|Rear Wheel Size||P205/60HR16||P195/65SR15|
|Front Wheel Size||P205/60HR16||P195/65SR15|
|Turning Diameter (ft.)||38.1||35.6|
|MPG/MPGe - Hwy||39||38|
|MPG/MPGe - City||29||30|
|MPG/MPGe - Combined||33||33|
|Gas Tank Size (gallons)||12.4||13.2|
|Cruising Range - Hwy (miles)||483.6||501.6|
|Size and Weight|
|Max Width (in.)||71.5||70.1|
|Trunk Volume (cu. ft.)||14.3||13.1|
|Front Seat Leg Room (in.)||44.0||42.0|
|Front Seat Head Room (in.)||38.9||38.3|
|Front Seat Hip Room (in.)||53.5||53.9|
|Front Seat Shoulder Room (in.)||56.4||54.0|
|Rear Seat Leg room (in.)||34.7||34.8|
|Rear Seat Head Room (in.)||36.7||37.1|
|Rear Seat Hip Room (in.)||53.3||51.3|
|Rear Seat Shoulder Room (in.)||54.5||51.7|
|HD Radio||Not Available||Not Available|
|WiFi Hotspot||Not Available||Standard|
|Satellite Radio||Not Available||Standard|
|Entertainment System||Not Available||Not Available|
|Premium Sound System||Not Available||Not Available|
|Auxiliary Audio Input||Standard||Standard|
|Smart Device Integration||Standard||Standard|
|Hard Disk Drive Media Storage||Not Available||Not Available|
|Vinyl Seats||Not Available||Not Available|
|Leather Seats||Not Available||Not Available|
|Premium Synthetic Seats||Not Available||Not Available|
|Sun/Moonroof||Not Available||Not Available|
|Leather Steering Wheel||Not Available||Not Available|
|Woodgrain Interior Trim||Not Available||Not Available|
|Rear A/C||Not Available||Not Available|
|Seat Memory||Not Available||Not Available|
|Seat-Massage||Not Available||Not Available|
|Keyless Entry||Standard||Not Available|
|Keyless Start||Standard||Not Available|
|Multi-Zone A/C||Not Available||Not Available|
|Power Liftgate||Not Available||Not Available|
|Climate Control||Not Available||Not Available|
|Head-Up Display||Not Available||Not Available|
|Automatic Parking||Not Available||Not Available|
|Navigation System||Not Available||Not Available|
|Power Driver Seat||Not Available||Not Available|
|Cooled Rear Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Hands-Free Liftgate||Not Available||Not Available|
|Heated Rear Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Remote Engine Start||Not Available||Not Available|
|Cooled Front Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Heated Front Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Power Passenger Seat||Not Available||Not Available|
|Remote Trunk Release||Standard||Standard|
|Heated Steering Wheel||Not Available||Not Available|
|Adaptive Cruise Control||Not Available||Standard|
|Navigation from Telematics||Not Available||Not Available|
|Universal Garage Door Opener||Not Available||Not Available|
|Steering Wheel Audio Controls||Standard||Standard|
|Night Vision||Not Available||Not Available|
|Rear Parking Aid||Standard||Not Available|
|Blind Spot Monitor||Standard||Not Available|
|Cross-Traffic Alert||Not Available||Not Available|
|Lane Keeping Assist||Not Available||Standard|
|Tire Pressure Monitor||Standard||Standard|
|Lane Departure Warning||Standard||Standard|
|Knee Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Driver Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Seatbelt Air Bag||Not Available||Not Available|
|Passenger Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Rear Head Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Rear Side Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Front Head Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Front Side Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Basic||3 Years / 36,000 Miles||3 Years / 36,000 Miles|
|Corrosion||5 Years / Unlimited Miles||5 Years / Unlimited Miles|
|Drivetrain||5 Years / 60,000 Miles||5 Years / 60,000 Miles|
|Maintenance||-||2 Years / 25,000 Miles|
|Roadside Assistance||3 Years / 36,000 Miles||2 Years / Unlimited Miles|