Honda Civic vs. Nissan Sentra

By

Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage. 


, Automotive Editor - September 15, 2016

To keep up with unrelenting competition in the compact sedan segment, the Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra receive some important updates this year. Both offer modern exteriors, appealing features, and fine efficiency.

If you're in the market for a small but roomy car that won't break the bank, which will serve you better?

See a side-by-side comparison of the Civic & Sentra »

What the Civic Gets Right

The completely redesigned Civic offers substantially more passenger and a larger trunk than before. A hatchback model is expected to join the sedan later in the model year.

The Civic starts out with a 2-liter four-cylinder engine good for 158 horsepower, matched to a six-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). You can expect 31 mpg in combined driving with the manual and a terrific 35 mpg with the CVT.

The available turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder achieves 174 horsepower and comes with the CVT only. This marks the first time a turbocharged engine has been deployed in any Civic, and it's just as efficient as the CVT-equipped 2-liter.

What the Sentra Gets Right

Nissan's compact wears revised styling this year that will remind you of brand's larger (and more expensive) Altima and Maxima. The Sentra comes in five trim levels, including the thrifty FE+S edition, which delivers 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. Other models are within 2 mpg of the FE+S. The available continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) has been massaged for quieter performance.

The Sentra excels in backseat room. Ride quality is impressive: not cushion-soft, but nicely absorbent on most surfaces. The steering setup offers excellent feel, if not sporty handling. The 130-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder provides decent acceleration for this class.

Can the Sentra Compete With the All-New Civic?

The Civic's new look, huge trunk, and peppy engines make it tough to beat. The Sentra matches it in value, efficiency, and design. But with only 130 horsepower at its disposal, the Sentra falls behind in overall performance.

Our Verdict: Honda Civic

The reborn Civic hits all the sweet spots and then some.

Take a closer look at the Honda Civic >>

Take a closer look at the Nissan Sentra >>

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage.