If you've never owned a compact car, you probably have some questions. Just how small is it? What's the fuel economy like? Which model is best for me? How affordable are they? In this comparison guide, we aim to provide answers. Here we look at the 2019 Nissan Sentra and the Honda Civic. Both compact cars, in some ways they are plenty alike while in others, they are headed in different directions. To see what we mean, keep reading.
Price: 2019 Nissan Sentra
The biggest difference between the Sentra and Civic is the price. They're from a class that is known for being affordable anyway, so the difference in price might not seem very great. But when you look at the difference relative to overall price, you'll see it in a new light. The 2019 Nissan Sentra starts at just $17,790. For that price, you get the Sentra S model, which comes standard with a manual transmission, continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), cloth upholstery, rearview camera, infotainment system with 7-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, USB port, Siri Eyes Free, four-speaker audio system, and collision warning and automatic emergency braking. That's quite a bit of tech for a base model. There are five more trim levels to choose from, the top being the sporty Sentra Nismo for $25,840. This performance-oriented compact comes with a 188-horsepower turbo-four engine and plenty of upscale and exclusive features.
Meanwhile the 2019 Honda Civic starts at $19,450, and comes with cloth seats, automatic climate control, four-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, USB port, 5-inch audio display screen, multi-angle rearview camera, and Honda Sensing suite of active safety features. For those of you keeping track at home, that's more active safety features but a small touch screen. The most expensive model is the Civic Touring hatchback for $28,750 with navigation, 10-speaker premium stereo, heated rear seats, four-way power-adjustable passenger seat, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. We suspect that the greater price is for the Honda's luxurious cabin. Because we don't see a big difference in features, even while the price is thousands of dollars different on either end.
Infotainment: 2019 Nissan Sentra
Normally, we wouldn't give infotainment system its own category. But, well, Honda has an infotainment problem. The system in the Nissan Sentra is great. For 2019, the Sentra gets a larger standard touch screen, which is a huge plus, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. The system itself is easy to use with bright, intuitive menus.
Meanwhile, the Honda Civic's infotainment system is bad enough you might want the workaround of exclusively using Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. On the plus side, Honda replaced the physical volume knob, but that's small comfort given the other issues. The Honda interface is badly optimized and outright confusing. Some users complain that they never quite get the hang of it, even after several attempts.
In other news, the Nissan Sentra and Honda Civic are absolutely tied in cargo space (15.1 cubic feet each), passenger room (to within a few cubic feet), and fuel economy (to within 1 mpg). Unless you need the Honda's luxurious cabin, save a couple thousand and go with the Nissan.