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2021 Nissan Sentra vs Toyota Corolla

2021 Nissan Sentra vs Toyota Corolla

2021 Sentra vs Corolla - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

If you're searching for a smaller-sized car, both Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla could be excellent choices. Both 2021 models boast unique features - like shape! While the Sentra provides traditional style with plenty of room for passengers as well as gear, Corolla versions boast sporty looks from both sides - either classic four door or sporty hatchback versions. It all comes down to personal preference when selecting between these top contenders: which type of ride do you prefer?

In 2021, Nissan Sentra models offer their base model Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard features. The top SR trim now also comes with a Wi-Fi hotspot as part of NissanConnect services for an additional fee. Other than that, this model remains unchanged for the new year.

Toyota finally delivers on their promise and adds Android Auto to the 2021 Corolla sedans. Hatchback lovers now have a Special Edition model (limited to 1500 pieces), while sedan buyers now have an Apex Edition model to consider.

Now that both options provide smartphone connectivity on every model, the competition between them has never been tighter. When analyzing them closely, it becomes evident that each has its own advantages and drawbacks; so which compact car do you think is better overall?


The Powertrain

For 2021, Nissan Sentra sedan and hatchback versions offer a single powertrain option: 2.0L four-cylinder engine that produces 149 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque - more than enough to meet most driving needs but unlikely to get your pulse racing. Conversely, Toyota Corolla hatchback versions produce up to 169 horsepower thanks to an optional 2.0L engine while still offering CVT transmission options across all models as well as six speed manual on select configurations.

Although the base engine of the Corolla may be lacking, those seeking more power will appreciate its 2.0L option which offers an impressive boost in performance - ideal for drivers wanting to take their ride up a gear with an available manual transmission.

Fuel efficiency is key with Nissan Sentra models, offering an ideal compromise. Two of them achieve 29mpg city and 39 mpg highway while their performance-oriented counterpart only slightly less efficient at 28mpgcity and 37mphwy - still impressive for a compact car! However, its Corolla counterpart can reach even higher mileages: 30mps city/38mphwy with its base engine or even 31mps in both directions when equipped with the 2.0L CVT engine.

The Corolla offers plenty of fuel efficiency options, and this vehicle can also be had as a hybrid with an EPA estimated 53mpg city and 52mpg highway rating - hard to match by other hybrids. Unfortunately, the hybrid powertrain produces only 121 horsepower. All models of both the Sentra and Corolla will come exclusively with front-wheel drive starting in 2021.

When hunting for a new car, reliability is key - and J.D Power offers helpful ratings to steer you in the right direction! It seems that those interested in getting behind the wheel of a 2021 model should take note: The Corolla nabbed an impressive 4.5 stars out of five while its counterpart Sentra received just 2.5 – not only making it less desirable, but potentially influencing buyer choices between them altogether.

The 2021 Sentra and Corolla both come with identical warranties: a three-year or 36,000 mile limited vehicle warranty and five-year/60,000 mile powertrain coverage. While these lengths of time may be sufficient for the reliable Corolla, drivers of the Sentra could face costly repair bills in the not too distant future.


When it comes to handling, the Sentra does a respectable job. The suspension will absorb most bumps on the road and steering is responsive. Unfortunately, the Sentra lacks athleticism and won't give drivers an engaging experience behind the wheel.

The Corolla can be classified in several ways. Sedan models feel more composed on bumpy roads than their hatchback counterparts, and there are also SE and XSE versions for buyers looking for something sportier; however, most upgrades focus more on appearance than actual performance.

With regards to passenger space, these vehicles are strikingly similar. Both boast spacious front seats and ample backseats, though headroom is somewhat tighter in both vehicles. Cloth upholstery comes standard on both vehicles; you can upgrade for heated front seats and synthetic leather upholstery for an additional fee - with genuine leather available only in the Sentra.

In the 2021 Sentra, you'll find 14.3 cubic feet of cargo space in its trunk - slightly smaller than most rivals. However, note that Nissan's Versa subcompact sedan offers a larger trunk.

The Corolla's numbers are even more disappointing in the sedan version, offering only 13.1 cubic feet of storage. The hatchback takes this number up to 17.8 cubic feet, still inadequate when compared with rivals' offerings. Thankfully, though, both backseats fold flat for additional space - up to 23.3 cubic feet!

Many will find the cabin of the Sentra more aesthetically pleasing than that of the Corolla. It does a better job at blending hard and soft plastics, plus adds unique styling touches like round air vents. While the Corolla's cabin is well-built, its style may not appeal to everyone.

In 2021, both the Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla come standard with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a 7-inch touchscreen display. Additionally, the Corolla also includes Amazon Alexa, Wi-Fi hotspot, satellite radio, USB ports (one per model), four speakers in total compared to two on the Sentra) and six in the Corolla).

Both of these compact cars offer 8-inch touchscreens in select models. In addition, certain Sentra models come with Wi-Fi hotspot and satellite radio capabilities. On the other hand, Toyota Corolla boasts an impressive list of available technologies which includes wireless device charging, a 7-inch digital display cluster, and nine speakers for premium audio enjoyment.

The touchscreen in the Corolla is more responsive than that of the Sentra, providing a less frustrating experience. Both include physical controls above and beyond those provided by the Corolla, however this may help make up for its shortcomings. When it comes to graphics however, once again the Corolla takes home top honors.

Buying Tip:

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Both of these compact cars performed admirably in testing conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For the Sentra, they awarded five stars in side crash and rollover testing as well as four stars for front collision testing - giving it an overall score of five out of five stars. Likewise, for the Corolla they gave five stars in front collision tests and four stars in rollover tests, giving it a score of five stars out of five stars overall.

The Sentra comes standard with an impressive list of driver assistance features, including automatic high beams and blind-spot monitoring. Other standard capabilities on all 2021 models include pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, forward and reverse automatic emergency braking as well as adaptive cruise control and a surround-view camera system which are available upgrades.

The Corolla offers adaptive cruise control on all models with CVT transmission, though blind-spot monitoring is an optional feature rather than standard. Otherwise, it has all of Nissan's driver aids as well as lane trace assist. Furthermore, only the Corolla has adaptive headlights available as an option.

Which Offers the Best Value?

In 2021, buying a 2021 Sentra starts at an MSRP of around $19,410 for the base model. The top SR trim comes in at not much more expensive with an MSRP of $21,750 - both numbers considered average for compact sedans.

The 2021 Corolla is more expensive than its 2020 counterparts, starting with $19,825. For the base model sedan model, buyers can expect to pay $19,825, while the hatchback starts at $20,465. Choosing a top trim can run you up to $23,415 for the hatchback or $25,725 for sedan models.

One could certainly make the case that the extra technology and safety features found in the Corolla justify their higher price tag. But which will cost less over five years? To answer this question, drivers need to compare both models' true-cost-to-own over five years.

Estimates for the 2021 Sentra are still being released, but their 2020 counterpart is very similar. Kelley Blue Book estimates that drivers will pay $32,295 over five years with out-of-pocket expenses combined with vehicle depreciation - which is significant in this case - totalling $352,295. Another way of looking at it would be that driving a Sentra costs $0.43 per mile.

The 2021 Toyota Corolla sedan performs better, estimated to cost $28,414 over five years. A large part of this is depreciation - the Corolla is estimated to lose over $1,000 less value in five years than other cars in its class. Furthermore, drivers can expect less maintenance and repairs with the 2021 Corolla: $0.38 per mile is all that's necessary!

Hatchback models of the Corolla retain their value better than their sedan counterparts, though not quite at the same level. Estimated costs per mile for these hybrid vehicles remain at $0.39 - exactly the same number as for regular Corollas.

At first glance, the Sentra may appear more cost-effective. However, informed buyers will quickly realize that the Corolla offers them more value for their money - not only will they save on repairs and maintenance expenses, but they'll also get more for their car when trading it in or selling it.

Which Is Better?

Drivers looking for the ultimate in convenience and affordability can't go wrong with the 2021 Toyota Corolla. With three powertrains, two body styles, plenty of tech features including smartphone integration, plus a hybrid version to boot - it's no wonder that this titanic model has emerged triumphant over its Sentra counterpart. Enjoy unbeatable savings with all-round assurance – now more than ever is an ideal time to consider investing in your perfect car.

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