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2021 Nissan Sentra vs. 2021 Volkswagen Jetta: Which Is Better?

The 2021 Nissan Sentra and 2021 Volkswagen Jetta have been top sellers in the compact car realm for many years. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • Nissan Sentra’s Safety Sense 360 delivers an amazing package of high tech features.
  • Along with a low starting price, Jetta features excellent engine power and great handling.

2021 Volkswagen Jetta

2021 Volkswagen JettaBase Price: $18,995 / Read our 2021 Volkswagen Jetta Review

What we like; Two years complimentary maintenance; optional GLI sports package; excellent MIB3 infotainment and overall display technology; high torque engine; 40+ highway mpg

What we would change: Increase trunk and storage space

Overview: The Volkswagen Jetta is a strong choice if you are looking for a compact car. With a torquey, turbocharged engine, 8-speed automatic transmission (6-speed manual available), and advanced safety technology, there are plenty of reasons to like the Jetta. The 13.5-gallon fuel tank and 40+ mpg highway allow drivers to cover over 450+ miles on a single tank of gasoline. Overall interior roominess is quite good and interior finishes look great and fit well. Outside the Jetta design still looks fresh and can be enhanced with 16- or 18-inch alloy wheels.

What’s new for 2021: New MIB3 Infotainment system for Jetta SEL; 6-way power driver’s seat and contrast stitching on steering wheel & shifter for Jetta SE; new 16-inch alloy wheels for Jetta S; Jetta GLI Autobahn receives new adaptive cruise control

Features and technology: The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta includes an advanced technology powertrain that generates great torque and mileage – two things that often are mutually exclusive. Even with the turbocharged engine, regular-grade 87-octane is still just fine rather than requiring premium fuel as with most turbocharged engines. Handling is quite good using a simple torsion-beam rear suspension enhanced with an XDS electronic differential. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard on the base Jetta S and R-line models.

The interior is nicely appointed and incorporates the Virtual Cockpit instrument system that allows you to adjust the appearance of the gauge layout even offering the ability to place the navigation screen right in front of the driver. The Jetta GLI model is the perfect choice for the car enthusiast on a budget and features 100 more engine horsepower for a lot more kick. Backed up with a full line of performance upgrades, the GLI option totally changes the personality of the Jetta from a mild manner compact into a corner-carving road machine.

What does the future hold: Two years after the 2019 launch of its seventh generation, the Jetta appears to be a long hauler in the Volkswagen line. With over 100,000 Jettas sold in the 2019 model year alone, clearly it’s a winner with a long history ahead. See 2021 Volkswagen Jetta models for sale near you

2021 Nissan Sentra

2021 Nissan SentraBase Price: $19,410 / Read our 2021 Nissan Sentra Review

What we like: NissanConnect adds Wi-Fi hot spot and emergency response connectivity; Safety Sense 360 is a complete package of high tech safety equipment

What we would change: We’d like to see something better than the CVT transmission as it is very noisy when passing or climbing hills; better passenger headroom needed on vehicles with a sunroof option

Overview: The newest Nissan Sentra builds on its legendary sales success with an affordable compact offering a wide array of standard and optional features. The interior gets high marks for comfort and the overall handling is good although the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is not our favorite. Engine power is more average than remarkable. A very comfortable commuter with such elements as optional “zero gravity” seats covered in quilted leather upholstery, the Sentra exhibits excellent braking and includes an assortment of high tech safety features that will keep you out of trouble. Overall mpg is good especially in highway driving where Sentra has the potential to break the 40-mpg mark.

What’s new for 2021: Nissan Safety Shield 360 is now standard equipment; Apple Car Play and Android Auto are standard; two-tone paint for SR model; Electric Blue paint with blackout roof available

Features and technology: Sentra’s interior is one of the highlights of the vehicle and not just because of the cool seats and flat-bottomed steering wheel (this makes entering and exiting the vehicle much easier). The instrument panel is clear and easy to read and the 7.0-inch display (8.0-inch on all models above base) interior monitor is one of the best in class. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard and the optional eight-speaker Bose stereo and WiFi hotspot are sure to please the occupants.

Even the base Sentra earns the NHTSA 5-start safety rating and features forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. For those with a little more change in their pockets and can opt for higher trim lines will be rewarded with things like adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree camera system that can help avoid those little scrapes that come from missing “small things” in crowded parking lots.

What does the future hold: With over 200,000 Sentra sold each year between 2014-18 and solid sales numbers in 2019, the Sentra is a key part of Nissan’s global production model. Without a doubt, the Sentra is here for the long haul. See 2021 Nissan Sentra models for sale near you

Jetta vs. Sentra: Strengths comparison

2021 Volkswagen Jetta Benefits: More powerful engine; high level of safety equipment; traditional transmission system; two-years free maintenance

2021 Nissan Sentra Benefits: NissanConnect; Safety Sense 360; high-line infotainment display

2021 Volkswagen Jetta vs. 2021 Nissan Sentra: Which is better?

The Nissan Sentra has been a great seller since it was launched four decades ago because it was a great value, offered good looks, comfortable seating, and decent mileage. However, the VW Jetta features a much better engine with slightly better mileage, more range, and a better basic warranty with two years of free maintenance. For all those reasons, we like the Jetta more than the competition. Find a 2021 Volkswagen Jetta for sale or Find a Nissan Sentra for sale

2021 Volkswagen Jetta 2021 Nissan Sentra
Popular Powertrains
Engine 1.4-liter turbo I4 2.0-liter I4
Horsepower 147 hp @ 5,000 rpm 149 hp @ 6,400 rpm
Torque 184 lb-ft @ 1,400rpm 146 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic CVT
Fuel Economy 34 mpg (30 city/40 highway) 33 mpg (29 city/39 highway


Also Available 2.0-liter turbo I4; 6-speed manual
Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain warranty 4 years/50,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety 5 Stars 5 stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 105.7 inches 106.8 inches
Overall Length 185.1 inches 182.7 inches
Width 70.8 inches 71.5 inches
Height 57.4 inches 56.9 inches
Turning Diameter 36.4 feet 38.1 feet
Headroom, Front 38.5 inches 38.9 inches
Headroom, Rear 37.2 inches 36.7 inches
Legroom, Front 41.1 inches 44.0 inches
Legroom, Rear 37.4 inches 37.4 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 55.9 inches 56.4 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 54.0 inches 54.5 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 94.7 cubic feet 96.0 cubic feet
EPA Cargo Volume 14.1 cubic feet 14.3 cubic feet


Cam Benty
Cam Benty
Cam Benty served as editor-in-chief for a number of automotive and sports-related publications early in his career, including Motor Trend Specials, Hot Rod and SPORT Magazine. After 20 years of experience creating monthly publications, he changed it up a bit, building custom publishing inserts and full-length specialty magazines for major car companies,including Ford, General Motors and Honda. A... Read More about Cam Benty

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