- The Toyota Corolla and the Nissan Sentra sedans are both all-new for 2020.
- The Corolla has a hatchback and a hybrid option and the Sentra is sedan-only with no hybrid option.
- The Sentra is more affordable, but the Corolla can get nicer on the high-end.
Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra are two of the oldest and most trusted names in the compact car segment. They both have well-earned reputations for affordable, reliable transportation and both models are all-new for the 2020 model year. They both have a lot to offer, but there are a few big differences between the two that you should know about if you’re in the market for a new compact car.
Let’s take a closer look at the differences and similarities between the Corolla and the Sentra in 2020 and see which is better.
These two compacts are almost identical in size, but the Sentra is two inches wider, which gives it a bit more of an athletic stance. The Corolla sedan is about 10 inches longer than its hatchback counterpart, but the hatchback has more cargo volume. See the 2020 Toyota Corolla models for sale near you
As for exterior design, these both have a pretty sharp look. The new Sentra’s design is clearly inspired by its bigger Nissan siblings like the Altima and Maxima, which gives it an aggressive look with a nicely sculpted body. The new Corolla has some nice, sharp lines in front and in back, but the design of the rest of the body could be considered a bit bland. They’re both nice-looking cars that look a lot more modern than their respective predecessors. See the 2020 Nissan Sentra models for sale near you
Much like the exterior dimensions, the interior dimensions of these two cars are pretty similar. The Sentra has slightly more back seat legroom than the Corolla which is something to keep in mind if you’re planning on having back seat passengers often. These would both be adequate cars for a small family with kids in the back, but could get cramped if you’re dealing with bulky child seats. The Sentra also has a slightly bigger trunk than the Corolla sedan, but the Corolla hatchback has more cargo space than either.
As for interior design, both cars have a sharp and modern design on the inside just like on the outside. The Sentra has a bit of a sportier interior with a flat-bottom steering wheel, and the interior of the Corolla is more on the conservative side. Interior materials are of pretty good quality in both cars considering their affordable price points.
The Corolla has three different engine options and the Sentra only has one. Both cars are front-wheel drive (FWD) with no all-wheel drive (AWD) option. The Corolla is available with a manual or automatic transmission while every Sentra has a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with no manual option.
2020 Toyota Corolla Engines
- 1.8-liter inline-4; 139 horsepower, 126 lb-ft of torque; up to 29 miles per gallon in the city/39 mpg on the highway
- 2.0-liter inline-4; 169 hp, 151 lb-ft of torque; up to 31 mpg city/40 mpg hwy
- 1.8-liter hybrid inline-4; 121 hp, 105 lb-ft of torque; up to 53 mpg city/52 mpg hwy
2020 Nissan Sentra Engine
- 2.0-liter inline-4; 149 hp, 145 lb-ft of torque; up to 29 mpg city/39 mpg hwy
The Sentra’s base engine is arguably better than the one in the Corolla for having the exact same fuel economy rating, but a little more power and torque. If you upgrade to the 2.0-liter engine in the Corolla, you get better performance and better fuel economy than the base engine in either car. Finally, there’s the Corolla Hybrid which achieves over 50 mpg both in the city and on the highway, but is frankly pretty slow. This is a good choice if you prioritize fuel economy over performance.
The Toyota Corolla comes standard with a 7-in infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and every model but the base trim has an upgraded 8-in unit with more apps. The Sentra has a very similar setup with a standard 7-in system with an 8-in screen in everything but the base trim. The 8-in system comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
As for safety technology, both cars are pretty generous. Every 2020 Corolla sedan comes standard with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 driver assistance technology suite, which includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with steering assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane-tracing assist and traffic sign recognition. The Sentra comes standard with the Nissan Safety Shield 360 safety tech suite which includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, high beam assist and rear automatic braking.
The Sentra is a little more affordable than the Corolla. The Nissan has a starting MSRP of $19,090 and the Toyota starts at $19,600. The Sentra has a very simple lineup of three trims, the base S model, the midrange SV and the higher-end, sporty SR. All three are attractively priced with the most expensive SR trim starting at just $21,430. The Corolla has more variety in its model range, but the Hybrid can only be had in the LE trim and starts at $23,100. On the high end, the Corolla gets into the mid- to high-$20k range.
With more variety available under the hood, a hatchback option and a super-efficient hybrid option, the Corolla has something for every driver looking for a compact car. The new Sentra is a good car and a huge upgrade over the previous generation, but it’s just not quite as good all-around as its Toyota rival. That said, the Sentra is a good choice if you know you want a sedan, you’re looking for a lot of bang for the buck and you favor a stylish interior over spunky handling. Find a Toyota Corolla for sale or Find a Nissan Sentra for sale