Nissan Sentra vs. Toyota Corolla | The Car Connection (2024)

In the compact sedan class, the Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla may not stand out as much as the stylish Mazda 3 or the spunky Honda Civic, but these overlooked stalwarts stand on value in a value-minded class.

The refreshed 2024 Nissan Sentra wears a new look and has a more efficient transmission, but it remains a straightforward play with only a four-door sedan body and no hybrid option.

The 2024 Toyota Corolla plugs in a familiar hybrid system—it’s on loan from the Prius hatchback—in a body that’s sedately styled, but still outfitted with a wealth of safety gear and other technology. It can be had as a hatchback and, most excitingly but least economically, as a hot hatch in the Corolla GR 86.

How do these proletariats stack up? Versatility and options favor the Corolla, but a direct value and simple lineup help the Sentra stick its landing. Here’s how we break down the differences, and which we recommend.

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2024 Nissan Sentra

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2024 Toyota Corolla

Sentra vs. Corolla prices and trims

  • The Sentra costs between $22,320 and $25,410
  • The Corolla sedan starts at $23,145, the Hybrid LE is $1,450 more
  • The Corolla hatchback ranges from $24,600 to $37,595 for the rowdy GR Corolla
  • Best picks: Nissan Sentra SV, Toyota Corolla Hybrid XLE

How much is a Toyota Corolla? Which Corolla should I buy?

The price delta on the Corolla is much greater than the Sentra, because it essentially consists of four distinct models: the sedan ($23,145), the sedan hybrid ($24,395), the hatchback ($24,600), and the GR Corolla hot hatch ($37,595). Prices include a $1,095 destination fee.

The base Corolla LE sedan has an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless start, automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, and a full suite of active safety features. Spend a little more for the $24,595 Corolla LE Hybrid for the best value, and it can be equipped with all-wheel drive for another $1,400. If you want more cargo space and interior flexibility, the Corolla SE hatchback makes a kind of sense, and is offered in better-equipped Nightshade and XSE trims.

If space is the driving factor here, check out the Toyota Corolla Cross, a small crossover with a similar starting price as the Corolla hatchback. It can be fitted with all-wheel drive and optioned as a hybrid, but it costs nearly $30,000.

Any Corolla comes with a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty and scheduled maintenance for the first two years or up to 25,000 miles.

How much is a Nissan Sentra? Which Sentra should I buy?

The simplified Sentra lineup starts with the S for $22,320, including a $1,140 destination fee. The base model includes basic features, such as a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, power locks and windows, keyless start, and a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty.

We’d step up to the SV at $23,250 for its 8.0-inch touchscreen, a digital instrument display, and adaptive cruise control. Cold weather birds might appreciate the $590 All-Weather package with remote start, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel.

Black accents and larger 18-inch black wheels, as well as LED headlights and heated front seats justify the range-topping SR’s $25,410 price.

Advantage: Nissan Sentra is priced lower, but Toyota Corolla has so many more options.

Toyota Corolla vs. Nissan Sentra exterior and interior design

  • Understated but attractive, the Sentra pops with the right paint
  • The Corolla sedan looks like the entry-level car it is
  • Corolla hatch looks sharper than both

Is the Nissan Sentra a good looking car?

The Sentra sedan takes design cues from the larger Altima and discontinued Maxima to good effect. Nissan spreads the wings on its old grille with a wider, broader appearance that flows into wraparound LED headlights and vertical air intakes. A black mascara line pulls the rear windows into the trunk to compelling emo effect. The interior is more sedate, though the flat-bottom steering wheel found on all Nissans and a black-on-black jacket keep the Sentra sharp. Nissan doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but leans on it with three circular vents in the center between round dials for climate and volume and tuning. We approve.

Is the Toyota Corolla a good looking car?

Toyota has made the Corolla more visually interesting recently, without slapping on all the kinks, creases, and angles of some of its other mass-produced cars. There’s little to distinguish between gas-powered and hybrid versions, too, except that they’re both small sedans. The hatchback has more pop and pizazz, especially with the GR’s hood and side air intakes, and the three pipes out back. Inside any Corolla is an open cabin with a tiered dash, but the materials and default black plastic reveal its budget car origins.

Advantage: The Nissan Sentra.

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2024 Nissan Sentra

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2024 Nissan Sentra

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2024 Nissan Sentra

Nissan Sentra vs. Corolla space, size, and trunk room

  • The Corolla and Sentra are nearly identical in size
  • The Sentra has a 14.3-cubic foot trunk versus the Corolla’s 13.1 cubes
  • Corolla hatchback has more cargo room than both, but less second-row legroom

How big is the Toyota Corolla?

Both of these compact sedans have five seats, but they really only seat four adults. Hearty types, like road-tripping collegiates or thrifty concert-goers who don’t want to battle or pay for extra parking, could fit a fifth passenger in the back, but getting there won’t be half the fun. The Corolla benefits from well-padded seats and basic cloth upholstery, and higher-end versions get heated front seats. Don’t be fooled by the hatchback, however: even though it has 17.9 cubic-feet of cargo space, the rear legroom shrinks to less than 30 inches, which is 5.0 inches less than both the Corolla and Sentra sedans. If you want both good cargo and better passenger volume, look at the Corolla Cross. But it might crimp your budget from rocking out.

How big is the Nissan Sentra?

The Sentra stretches out slightly wider and longer than the Corolla, and it has a deeper trunk. The materials feel a bit nicer than in the Corolla, and the Premium package adds power front seats that are heated. Good side bolstering and lumbar support comfort longer rides.

Advantage: Despite nearly identical specs, the Sentra feels a bit roomier.

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2024 Toyota GR Corolla Circuit Edition

Toyota Corolla vs. Nissan Sentra performance

  • The Corolla Hybrid trades puts mpg over mph
  • The Sentra lacks an all-wheel-drive option
  • Sentras ride better, except for the Corolla and GR Corolla hatchbacks

The Sentra lacks a sport model like the GR Corolla hatchback and its 1.6-liter turbo-3. Don’t be fooled by three cylinders—it generates 300 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, and massive turbo boost helps it get to 60 mph in less than five seconds. The power is more pronounced at speed, and the short shifts and easy clutch on the 6-speed manual transmission let you play with that powerband all the time. The all-wheel-drive system, and a torque-split dial that goes from a 60:40 front to 30:70 rear split, as well as a track mode that cuts nearly all traction controls systems, add even more spirit to the hot hatch. As it should for prices ranging from $37,500 to $46,000.

How fast is the Toyota Corolla?

GR Corolla aside, the Toyota Corolla plies in efficiency, not power. Sedan and hatchback models employ a 169-hp 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes a lot of noise for its relative lack of power. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) doesn’t abate the noise coming into the cabin, as it’s constantly adjusting the belt and pulleys to find the optimal—most efficient—use of the engine.

The hybrid is quieter and pokier, with a 1.8-liter inline-4 and small battery pack and motor making 138 hp and 105 lb-ft. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available. In either case, it takes about nine seconds for the Corolla Hybrid to reach 60 mph. It’ll take longer yet but be far more enjoyable for it to reach 50 mpg combined. The ride quality is better too, with a soft side from its front struts and multilink rear suspension.

How fast is the Nissan Sentra?

The front-wheel-drive Sentra employs an alert 147-hp 2.0-liter inline-4, but quickness is not its forte. While improved for efficiency and refinement, the CVT can be sluggish out of a stop or when torque is low. Yet once moving, it matches power with demand, and lets the Sentra show off its finer qualities in ride quality and steering. The independent suspension lets the Sentra flow because it can’t carve, and the steering matches that fluidity to turn twisting roads into something fun.

Advantage: The Sentra, slightly, over the Corolla sedan.

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2024 Nissan Sentra

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2024 Nissan Sentra

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2024 Nissan Sentra

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2024 Nissan Sentra

Nissan Sentra vs. Toyota Corolla fuel economy

  • The Sentra tops out at 30 mpg city, 40 highway, 34 combined
  • Corolla Hybrid sedan nets 53/46/50 mpg
  • Corolla sedan and hatchback edge Sentra at 32/41/35 mpg

One of the great advantages of these entry-level sedans is the lower cost of ownership relative to other new cars, and spending less on fuel is a big reason why. The Sentra earns 34 mpg combined, and even the 1-mpg penalty on the Sentra SR and its larger wheels is still well above average for a gas-powered car.

The Corolla sedan and hatchback do it even better, at 35 mpg combined for the base models. Larger wheels and more features drop it 1 mpg or so on sedan XLE or hatch XSE models, and you’re not buying the GR Corolla (21/28/24 mpg) to pinch pennies at the pump.

The clear winner here is the Toyota Corolla Hybrid sedan, rated at 53/46/50 mpg. There are nearly a dozen hybrids rated at 50 mpg or above, including the larger 2025 Toyota Camry, so you don’t need to have a small car for small fuel use. The Corolla Hybrid with AWD drops to 51/44/48 mpg, and higher trim versions such as the Hybrid XLE with AWD drop to 47/41/44 mpg.

Advantage: The Corolla.

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2024 Toyota Corolla

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2024 Toyota Corolla

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2024 Toyota Corolla

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2024 Toyota Corolla

Sentra vs. Corolla safety

  • Both cars earn top five-star ratings from the NHTSA
  • The Corolla nets a Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS
  • Toyota equips the Corolla with more standard safety systems

How safe is the Toyota Corolla?

It’s about as safe as a small car can be. In addition to its five-star rating from the NHTSA, the IIHS bestows its toughest award on the Corolla with a Top Safety Pick+ (with LED headlights on higher trims). Toyota equips it with a suite of driver-assistance features uncommon on entry-level cars, such as adaptive cruise control. Like the Sentra, it also has active lane control and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Blind-spot monitors are an option on base LE models.

How safe is the Nissan Sentra?

Unlike the Corolla, Nissan includes blind-spot monitors on every Sentra. A surround-view camera system and adaptive cruise control are offered on top trims. The IIHS rates its headlights at “Poor,” thereby precluding it from a Top Safety Pick, but the NHTSA found it to hold up well enough in crash tests to earn five stars overall, despite missing a star for front crash protection.

Advantage: The Corolla is the safer car.

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2024 Toyota Corolla hybrid

Which car is better: Nissan Sentra or Toyota Corolla?

The Corolla’s extensive range, from frugal hybrid to superb GR Corolla hot hatch helps the dealer spider spin a wide web, but more practical measures such as safety and fuel economy earn it the win here, as well as a TCC Rating of 6.5 out of 10.

Don’t dismiss the Sentra and its 5.7 out of 10 TCC Rating. It’s a better value at the point of purchase and it has more alluring styling, both inside and out. With cars this closely aligned in the things that matter most to shoppers, it might come down to that one thing we can’t account for: how it makes you feel.

Winner: The Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

Nissan Sentra vs. Toyota Corolla | The Car Connection (2024)
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