Video Hero Image

2021 Corolla vs. 2020 Sentra Comparison

The Corolla and the Sentra are classic compact sedans.

Introduced over 50 years ago, the Toyota Corolla entered the U.S. market in 1968. Over its 11 generations, it has kept up with new safety and multimedia trends as well as updating and streamlining its design to become what it is today: an eye-catching, versatile, and efficient ride. The Nissan Sentra arrived over a decade later, having been first introduced in 1982. These vehicles have gone from being casual commuter cars to upgraded, striking, sport-styled compact sedans.

The new 2021 Corolla has an impressive standard feature lineup including Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0), an available hybrid model, and the latest connectivity options like Apple CarPlay® and Amazon Alexa compatibility.

While the Sentra has been competing with the Corolla for decades, it has a lot of ground to make up. Let’s see which compact car has the edge when it comes to categories like safety, performance, and interior features.

Publish Date: 11/12/2020

Two 2021 Corolla's parked side by side

Safety

  • The Corolla L comes standard with a suite of active safety features called Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0).
  • Intelligent Cruise Control is only offered on the Sentra SV and SR, not the base grade Sentra S.
  • The 2020 Corolla received a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating from the NHTSA as well as a 5-Star Overall Front Star Rating which combines driver and passenger frontal crash ratings.

Driver safety remains a top priority among consumers. Manufacturers are addressing these concerns with advanced driver assistance features that are standard or available on most vehicles. The Corolla has kept up with the times, coming packed with standard advanced active safety features. How does the Sentra compare?

Standard Safety Features

The Corolla L w/ CVT comes standard with a suite of active safety features called Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0). This includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), Road Sign Assist (RSA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).

For its part, the Sentra S comes standard with High Beam Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning, and Intelligent Trace Control. Intelligent Cruise Control is only offered on the higher-grade Sentra SV and SR.

Based on ratings from the NHTSA, the 2020 Corolla received a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating as well as a 5-Star Overall Front Star Rating which combines driver and passenger frontal crash ratings. The Sentra also received a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating, however, it only received 4-Stars for Overall Front Star Rating due to a 3-Star Front Passenger Side ranking.

Additionally, the Corolla comes with 10 airbags, plus driver and front passenger Whiplash-Injury-Lessening (WIL) seats. The 2020 Sentra also has a Nissan Advanced Air Bag System with dual-stage supplemental front air bags, seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags for front and rear seat outboard occupants, driver and front-passenger supplemental knee airbags, and roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags. However, the 2020 Sentra lacks comparable features to help protect against whiplash.

Black 2021 Corolla driving through the city at night

Performance

  • The Corolla offers both gas trims and a hybrid trim. The Sentra does not.
  • The Corolla SE has more transmission options than the Sentra which only has a Continuously Variable Transmission.
  • To light the way, the 2021 Corolla has LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) and standard LED headlights..

Yes, compact sedans are great options for those looking to get excellent fuel economy. That doesn’t mean they can’t be fun to drive.

Hybrid Trims

The 2021 Corolla offers both gas and hybrid-engine options. For the base model Corolla L w/ CVT, drivers have an EPA-estimated 30/38/33 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. The Sentra S has a similar EPA-estimated 29/39/33 (city/highway/combined) MPG. If fuel economy is the priority, with an EPA-estimated 53/52/52 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating, the Corolla Hybrid LE has far higher estimated MPG ratings than any gas-engine Sentra. There is no 2020 Sentra hybrid-engine variant available in the North American market.

While the Sentra only includes Continuously Variable Transmission, the Corolla SE has the option for Dynamic-Shift Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) or 6-speed Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT). The Corolla SE also comes standard with Normal and Sport driving modes. Sport mode enhances throttle response and Electronic Power Steering (EPS) assist. The Sentra doesn't offer a comparable feature.

The 2021 Corolla also comes standard with LED headlights and LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL). Conversely, the Sentra S comes with halogen headlights. LED headlights with LED signature Daytime Running Lights are only offered on the Sentra SR.

Interior view of the 2021 Corolla

Interior

  • The Corolla and Sentra both offer standard 7-in. touchscreens.
  • The Sentra S has four speakers while the Corolla has six.
  • They both have Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay®, but the Sentra lacks Amazon Alexa compatibility.

It doesn't matter if you're doing a grocery trip or a road trip, the right multimedia and connectivity options can turn any outing into an adventure.

Media Options

When comparing infotainment options, the Corolla and Sentra both offer standard 7-in. touchscreens. The base-grade 2021 Corolla L also comes standard with six speakers, Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Comparably, the base-grade Sentra S has four speakers, Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay® compatibility, but lacks Amazon Alexa. If you want the standard six speakers in the Sentra SV and SR you'd have to spend at least the starting MSRP $20,370 of the SV as compared to the starting MSRP of $19,925 for the Corolla L.

To charge your devices on the go, the Corolla multimedia system also comes standard with a USB media port and one USB media charge port. The Sentra S has one USB port. For their two USB ports and one USB-C port you'd need to get the Sentra SV or SR.

Two people hanging out by the 2021 Corolla

Conclusion: Corolla vs. Sentra

  • The 2021 Corolla L features a whole suite of active safety features called Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0).
  • The 2020 Sentra comes standard with four speakers while the Corolla has six and the addition of Amazon Alexa compatibility.
  • The Corolla offers more standard advanced active safety features at the base-grade.

With 90 years of combined experience in the sedan market, the Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra have been competitors for a long time. In their current generations, both are highly-efficient, sport-styled compact sedans that are fun to drive.

For a starting MSRP of $19,925, the 2021 Corolla L features a whole suite of standard advanced active safety features called Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0)tss_disclaimer], 10 airbags, and the 2020 Corolla received a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating by the NHTSA. The 2021 Corolla has not yet been rated. Similarly, the 2020 Sentra (starting MSRP $19,310) has all comparable advanced active safety features except for Intelligent Cruise Control, an advanced airbag system, and it received a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating by the NHTSA. However, the 2020 Sentra only received 4-Stars for the Overall Front Star Rating, while the Corolla received 5-Stars in this area.

Not only does the Corolla offer more standard safety features, it also comes with more multimedia options and a hybrid-engine variant, the Corolla Hybrid LE.

Get more of what you want with the new 2021 Corolla.