2021 Honda Civic vs. 2021 Nissan Sentra

2021 Honda Civic vs Nissan Sentra

Refuse to compromise: That’s the motto Nissan’s chosen for its Sentra. But compromise it has, as the Sentra sacrifices real-world solutions for a lower MSRP. Instead of displaying Civic-like characteristics, the Sentra offers a blase ride, with a noisy, sometimes slow engine and mediocre fuel economy ratings. Yes, it’s arguably more refined than past Sentras, but the 2021 Nissan Sentra lacks the finesse to compete with the 2021 Civic.

Safety & Convenience

Standard Adaptive Cruise Control

The Honda Sensing suite is included with every single 2021 Civic, from the entry-level LX to the packed Touring. This gives Civic a standard feature that the Sentra and most other compact cars do not: Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow.

ACC helps you set not only a cruising speed, but also a following distance between your Civic and the vehicle in front of you. The system then takes it from there, maintaining that speed and/or distance as traffic conditions change. If a stop is warranted, ACC will stop automatically.

Nissan’s comparable Intelligent Cruise Control system isn’t standard nor optional in the base Sentra S, though it does come with higher SR and SV trims. But it’s the 21st century -- why should you pay more for a safety feature that should be standard?

Standard Road Departure Mitigation

Only the Civic comes with Honda’s patented Road Departure Mitigation System. RDM senses when your Civic veers out of its lane or off the road, then applies corrective steering or activates the brakes to prevent catastrophes.

Sentra’s Lane Departure Warning system is the closest match to Honda’s RDM. However, its haptic steering wheel only provides vibrating alerts to notify drivers, and LDW does not include automatic braking or steering tech.

Honda HomeLink

Controlling your car -- that is, starting its engine and HVAC systems remotely -- from your home is commonplace these days. Honda aims to continue that circle of life by allowing drivers to control their home from their cars. Enter the HomeLink system.

With HomeLink in your Civic, you’ll be able to open and control your garage door or front gate, activate or deactivate your home security system, and turn on or off lights, appliances and several other smart devices throughout your home. You’re connected in more ways than ever before.

2021 Civic - Wireless Phone Charger

Available Wireless Phone Charger Accessory

Most compact cars don’t include wireless Qi-enabled phone charging options -- but the 2021 Civic isn’t like most compact cars. If you speak with your Honda dealer, you can order and have a wireless device charger installed in your Civic. Talk about hassle-free.

The Sentra doesn’t have a wireless phone charge pad accessory.



For zip and zap off the line, you’d be a fool to select none other than the Civic. Its sports-car DNA cannot be dismissed, even as a four-door sedan. Underneath its LX and Sport models is a purring 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 158 horsepower* and 138 lb.-ft. of torque*. Move on up to the EX, EX-L or Touring, and Civic excites with its 1.5L turbo-four, which generates 162 lb-ft of torque* and 174 horsepower at 6,000 revs*.

Fitted with a single 2.0L inline-four engine, all 2021 Sentra models see horsepower and torque in the 149 and 146 lb.-ft. neighborhood. Civic’s turbocharger makes quick work of Sentra’s middling I-4 -- with an emphasis on the word “quick.”

2021 Civic Sedan
(LX, Sport)
2021 Civic Sedan
(EX, EX-L, Touring)
2021 Sentra
(S, SV, SR)
Engine 2.0L Inline-4 1.5L Inline-4 Turbo 2.0L Inline-4
Horsepower 158* 174 149
Torque (lb.-ft.) 138* 162 146

Fuel Efficiency

With great power comes even greater EPA-estimated MPG numbers. That’s the case with the 2021 Civic EX, which is as fuel-efficient as just about any other compact sedan in the class. On the highway, Civic EX returns 42 mpg*. In the city, those numbers drop to 32 mpg*.

The range-topping Sentra SR trim isn’t even on the heels of the Civic. Returning just 28 city/37 highway mpg, it languishes in the back of the pack.

2021 Civic Sedan (EX) 2021 Sentra (SR)
MPG (city / hwy / combined) 32 / 42 / 36* 28 / 37 / 32

Ground Clearance

Boasting standard 16-inch wheels, both the Civic EX and Sentra S ride higher off the pavement than others in its class. However, the difference in ground clearance is staggering.

WIth the Civic LX, you’ve got 6.7 inches to clear those pavement-encroaching obstacles all drivers abhor -- enormous potholes, we’re looking at you.

Ground clearance in the Sentra is questionably low, at 4.7 inches. If you choose to go with the Sentra, we see a few scraped bumpers in your future.


2021 Civic - Passenger Space

Passenger Space

If compromises were made in designing the Sentra, they’d be apparent in its cabin. Compared to its previous generation, the 2021 Sentra model is somehow smaller, offering less headroom, legroom, and shoulder room. That doesn’t bode well for its chances of beating the Civic, which is one of the most spacious compact cars in the segment.

Simply put, the 2021 Civic encourages you to do some well-earned traveling. Versus the ‘21 Sentra, it boasts more front and rear headroom, front and rear shoulder room, front hiproom, and rear legroom. Its 97.8-cubic-foot cabin is as close to open-air as one can get without the removal of its top-half sheet metal.

2021 Civic Sedan (LX) 2021 Sentra (S)
Passenger Volume 97.8 cu. ft. 96.0 cu ft
Headroom (front) 39.3 in 38.9 in
Headroom (rear) 37.1 in 36.7 in
Legroom (rear) 37.4 in 34.7 in
Shoulder Room (front) 57.0 in 56.4 in
Shoulder Room (rear) 55.0 in 54.5 in
Hiproom (front) 53.7 in 53.5 in

Cargo Volume

How’s the Sentra fare in trunk space? Again, offering just 14.3 cubic feet of room in the trunk, the Nissan Sentra somehow sees a reduction compared to past models.

The 15.1 cubic feet in the Civic trunk is far more accommodating to the everyday driver (i.e. you).

2021 Civic Sedan (LX) 2021 Sentra (S)
Cargo Volume (cu ft) 15.1 14.3

10-Speaker Premium Audio System

To maximize your ears’ enjoyment, make the upgrade to the Honda Civic Touring. It comes standard with a 450-watt, 10-speaker sound system and dedicated subwoofer. The best the Sentra can do is an optional 8-speaker audio system, which costs extra on the SR model.

2021 Civic - One-Touch Power Moonroof

One-Touch Power Moonroof

Standard on the Civic EX and up is a one-touch power moonroof. Hit the button. Sit back. Get lost in the stars. (Just be sure you’re not driving first.)

Sentra’s available power sliding glass moonroof doesn’t come standard in any trim. That means extra cash out of your pocket just to breathe that fresh air.

Seat Comfort

8-Way Power Driver’s Seat

There’s something to be said about a good driver’s seat. But what makes a driver’s seat worth sitting in? Look to the Civic EX for your answer. You get a standard 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat that offers a multitude of lower cushion positions.

The best the Sentra can do is a 6-way power driver’s seat -- you’d be surprised by the amount of comfort two extra seat settings can provide.

4-Way Power Passenger Seat

Unlike the 4-way manual passenger seat inside the Sentra, Civic’s passenger seat offers a 4-way power adjustment selection. Because passengers are people, too.

2021 Civic - Leather-Trimmed Seating

Leather-Trimmed Seating

If you’re paying for a car with all the bells and whistles, make sure they’re made of real, honest-to-God leather. With the Civic EX-L and Touring, that’s what you get: pure, authentic, genuine leather-trimmed seats -- all standard.

Optional on the Sentra SR are Nissan’s chosen leather alternative, Prima-Tex™. This leatherette material just doesn’t have the same feel, look or even smell as quality leather.

Heated Rear Seats

Both the Nissan and Honda can be had with heated front seats, but only the Civic Touring ups the ante with heated outboard rear seats. Ah! Life! Isn’t it beautiful?


158 @ 6500 rpm (SAE net), 174 @ 6000 rpm (SAE net)

138 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm (SAE net), 162 lb-ft @ 1700-5500 rpm (SAE net)

30 city/38 highway/33 combined mpg rating for LX and Touring trims. 29 city/37 highway/32 combined mpg rating for Sport trim. 32 city/42 highway/36 combined mpg rating for EX and EX-L trims. Based on 2021 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions and other factors.

Honda wireless phone charger is compatible with Qi wireless charging standards. Check with your device’s manufacturer for wireless capability.