Nissan Versa vs Sentra: What’s The Difference?

After the pandemic and everything else that’s been going on over the past few years, the market for affordable family cars has exploded. Two offerings from Japanese giant Nissan include the more compact Nissan Versa, and the larger Nissan Sentra. Both are affordable and packed with features, but besides pure size, how else can we distinguish between them?

Quick Summary

The Nissan Versa is a subcompact car and slightly smaller than the Nissan Sentra, which is a compact car. The Nissan Versa offers excellent value with its low starting price and strong fuel economy, but we prefer the bigger Nissan Sentra for its more attractive exterior and more spacious interior.


The Nissan Versa is the more budget-friendly of the 2 models, with a starting MSRP of just $15,080. It comes in 3 different trim levels: S, SV, and SR. The S variant is available as both a 5-speed manual and with Xtronic CVT automatic. The SV starts at $17,890, and the SR at $18,490, which means all versions of the Versa start at under $20,000.

The Nissan Sentra starts at $19,510, and comes in 4 trim levels: S, SV, SR, and SR Midnight Edition. The SV starts at $20,570, the SR at $22,100, and the ST Midnight at $22,795.

Nissan Versa side view
Nissan Sentra sedan side view


For many, the exterior styling of the Nissan Sentra is perhaps the more appealing because the Versa is somewhat reminiscent of the always-controversial Toyota Prius design. The front end has a noticeable droop while the rear end remains higher. By contrast, the Sentra has a sportier and more executive feel to its exterior styling.

The Nissan Sentra also features more angular and bolder lines, a larger grille, and large, sweep-back headlights. It’s a whole 5 inches longer and 3 inches wider, which contributes to the slightly grander look of the Sentra, but also to the roomier interior. The Sentra’s interior offers better space, especially for rear passengers.

While the Nissan Sentra is the bigger car, it’s still a relatively small car. While bigger than the Versa and electric Nissan LEAF, it’s positioned behind the Nissan Altima and Nissan Maxima in terms of size.


The Sentra’s interior offers better space, especially for rear passengers.

Nissan Versa interior view
Nissan Sentra interior view 2022

In terms of interior styling, the Sentra offers more scope for customization and options, including tan quilted leather, Prima-Tex, Sport Cloth, and other upholstery options. Both offer some measure of two-tone seating colors, either in cloth for the Versa, or in contrast stitching for the Sentra.

The cockpits of both are fairly similar, which isn’t surprising since they’re both Nissan cars. Simple elegance reigns supreme with decent-quality materials but a few harder plastics are still in sight – nothing unusual for vehicles within this price range.


The Nissan Versa is powered by a 1.6L inline-4 engine outputting 122-hp and 114 lb-ft of torque paired with either a 5-speed manual transmission or an Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) depending on which trim level you choose. The manual is only available on the base model.

The Nissan Sentra houses a bigger 2.0L engine that delivers 149-hp and 146 lb-ft of torque. That’s paired with a CVT transmission as standard. Both are FWD drivetrains.

So, neither of them are exactly horsepower machines, but then again that’s not the primary reason people decide to buy them. On the road, the Nissan Versa is a comfortable ride and the newest version offers much better damping performance than its predecessor. The transmission in particular performs well, helping to keep the mechanics quiet. Thanks to its more compact size, it also benefits from a tighter 17.4-foot turning radius that makes it better at navigating narrow city streets.

The Nissan Sentra has a good-quality independent rear suspension, but if you opt for the very attractive 18-inch wheels, then you can expect there to be more road noise and a somewhat harder and bumpier ride. The brakes, however, are built to impress and can bring it to a halt from 70-mph in just 170 feet.

Nissan Versa sedan rear view
Nissan Sentra sedan rear view

Fuel Economy

Unsurprisingly, the more compact Nissan Versa with its smaller engine is more fuel efficient than the Nissan Sentra. It offers 32-mpg in the city, 40-mpg on the highway, and a combined mpg rating of 35-mpg.

The Nissan Sentra only manages 28, 37 and 32-mpg respectively. This doesn’t make the Nissan Sentra an inefficient car, especially for a larger sedan, but it still can’t beat the Versa on efficiency.


The Versa also edges out the Sentra when it comes to cargo space, offering 15 cubic feet compared to just 14.3 cubic feet in the Sentra. This is when rear seats are upright, however, and the Nissan Sentra comfortably edges out the Nissan Versa in total cargo volume when the rear seats are folded down.

Sedans often get compared in terms of leg room, and it’s in this area that the Nissan Sentra has a distinct advantage, which we touched on above. Up front, both cars are about the same, but the Sentra offers 3.7 inches extra legroom in the rear of the car compared to the Versa. That’s great news for adult passengers.

Technology & Features

Standard tech features on both models include a 7-inch infotainment display as standard, 3 USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and voice-activated audio controls. The Nissan Sentra gets a better audio system with 6 speakers compared to just 4 on the Versa. There’s also the option to upgrade the infotainment screen to 8 inches on the Sentra, as well as to an 8-speaker Bose premium sound system.


Nissan is generally very generous when it comes to safety and driver assistance technology. Nissan Safety Shield 360 is present in both cars and includes a whole array of ADAS and safety features.

Namely, you can expect to find automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and rear automatic braking mitigation technology as basic safety features. On top of that, the regular ADAS package includes auto high-beam headlights, hill start assist, tire pressure warning, blind-spot warning, driver attention alert, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, and more.

Both models have also received glowing 5-star reports from the NHTSA for their overall safety under crash test conditions. However, only the Nissan Sentra holds the IIHS “Top safety pick” award.

Key Rivals

Those considering the Nissan Versa or Sentra will likely also find themselves considering popular compact cars from Japanese or Korean automakers.

The Nissan Versa is one of the few surviving subcompact cars in the US, and it only really finds itself competing against the Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio.

The Nissan Sentra, on the other hand, faces stiff competition from the immensely popular Toyota Corolla. There are also a lot of other options in the crowded compact sedan segment, such as the Honda Civic, Mazda 3, and Hyundai Elantra.

Related: Hyundai Accent vs Hyundai Elantra comparison


They’re both Nissans and both sedans, and while they share many qualities that are common to Nissan cars like good attention to ADAS and safety features, they also differ in some key ways.

Drivers who want more style from their Nissan sedan will do far better with the Sentra. It has a longer, sleeker, and sportier build compared to the more “progressive” exterior design of the Nissan Versa.

If looks aren’t as important as fuel economy, then the Versa wins out as the cheaper-to-run car. It manages to offer a tiny bit more trunk space with seats up too, though the Sentra does offer better rear leg room, which is probably the more significant difference.

Finally, it’s hard to argue with the price point of the Versa, with all versions being attainable for under $20,000. It’s not that the Nissan Sentra is expensive, because it’s not, but the Versa’s value for money factor is quite remarkable.

Comparison Table

2022 Nissan Versa2022 Nissan Sentra
Engine1.6L Inline-4 Gas2.0L Inline-4 Gas
Horsepower122 hp @ 6000 rpm149 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque114 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm146 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Transmission5-Speed ManualContinuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
DrivetrainFront-Wheel DriveFront-Wheel Drive
Steering TypeRack-PinionRack-Pinion
Rear SuspensionTorsion BeamMulti-Link
Rear Wheel SizeP195/65HR15P205/60HR16
Front SuspensionStrutStrut
Front Wheel SizeP195/65HR15P205/60HR16
Turning Diameter (ft.)34.838.1
Fuel Economy
MPG/MPGe - Hwy3539
MPG/MPGe - City2729
MPG/MPGe - Combined3033
Gas Tank Size (gallons)10.812.4
Cruising Range - Hwy (miles)378.0483.6
Size and Weight
Height (in.)57.356.9
Length (in.)177.0182.7
Weight (lbs)25993036
Max Width (in.)68.571.5
Wheelbase (in.)103.1106.8
Interior Dimensions
Seating Capacity55
Trunk Volume (cu. ft.)14.714.3
Front Seat Leg Room (in.)44.544.0
Front Seat Head Room (in.)39.538.9
Front Seat Hip Room (in.)50.953.5
Front Seat Shoulder Room (in.)53.156.4
Rear Seat Leg room (in.)31.034.7
Rear Seat Head Room (in.)36.336.7
Rear Seat Hip Room (in.)50.153.3
Rear Seat Shoulder Room (in.)53.654.5
Infotainment Features
HD RadioNot AvailableNot Available
MP3 PlayerStandardStandard
WiFi HotspotNot AvailableNot Available
Satellite RadioNot AvailableNot Available
Bluetooth ConnectionStandardStandard
Entertainment SystemNot AvailableNot Available
Premium Sound SystemNot AvailableNot Available
Auxiliary Audio InputStandardStandard
Smart Device IntegrationNot AvailableStandard
Hard Disk Drive Media StorageNot AvailableNot Available
Interior Trim
Cloth SeatsStandardStandard
Vinyl SeatsNot AvailableNot Available
Leather SeatsNot AvailableNot Available
Premium Synthetic SeatsNot AvailableNot Available
Bucket SeatsStandardStandard
Sun/MoonroofNot AvailableNot Available
Leather Steering WheelNot AvailableNot Available
Woodgrain Interior TrimNot AvailableNot Available
Comfort Features
Rear A/CNot AvailableNot Available
TelematicsNot AvailableNot Available
Seat MemoryNot AvailableNot Available
Seat-MassageNot AvailableNot Available
Keyless EntryStandardStandard
Keyless StartNot AvailableStandard
Cruise ControlStandardStandard
Multi-Zone A/CNot AvailableNot Available
Power LiftgateNot AvailableNot Available
Climate ControlNot AvailableNot Available
Head-Up DisplayNot AvailableNot Available
Power Mirror(s)StandardStandard
Automatic ParkingNot AvailableNot Available
Navigation SystemNot AvailableNot Available
Power Driver SeatNot AvailableNot Available
Cooled Rear Seat(s)Not AvailableNot Available
Hands-Free LiftgateNot AvailableNot Available
Heated Rear Seat(s)Not AvailableNot Available
Remote Engine StartNot AvailableNot Available
Cooled Front Seat(s)Not AvailableNot Available
Heated Front Seat(s)Not AvailableNot Available
Power Passenger SeatNot AvailableNot Available
Remote Trunk ReleaseStandardStandard
Heated Steering WheelNot AvailableNot Available
Adaptive Cruise ControlNot AvailableNot Available
Navigation from TelematicsNot AvailableNot Available
Universal Garage Door OpenerNot AvailableNot Available
Steering Wheel Audio ControlsStandardStandard
Safety Features
Brake AssistStandardStandard
Night VisionNot AvailableNot Available
Rear Parking AidNot AvailableStandard
Traction ControlStandardStandard
Stability ControlStandardStandard
Blind Spot MonitorNot AvailableStandard
Cross-Traffic AlertNot AvailableNot Available
Lane Keeping AssistNot AvailableNot Available
Tire Pressure MonitorStandardStandard
Lane Departure WarningStandardStandard
Knee Air BagStandardStandard
Driver Air BagStandardStandard
Seatbelt Air BagNot AvailableNot Available
Passenger Air BagStandardStandard
Rear Head Air BagStandardStandard
Rear Side Air BagStandardStandard
Front Head Air BagStandardStandard
Front Side Air BagStandardStandard
Basic3 Years / 36,000 Miles3 Years / 36,000 Miles
Corrosion5 Years / Unlimited Miles5 Years / Unlimited Miles
Drivetrain5 Years / 60,000 Miles5 Years / 60,000 Miles
Roadside Assistance3 Years / 36,000 Miles3 Years / 36,000 Miles