Pecheles Automotive Compares 2018 Volkswagen JETTA VS 2018 Nissan Sentra Near Greenville, NC

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2018 Volkswagen JETTA

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2018 Volkswagen JETTA

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2018 Nissan Sentra

Safety Comparison

The Jetta has standard whiplash protection, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the whiplash protection system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Sentra doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Jetta has standard post collision braking, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Sentra doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The Volkswagen Jetta has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Sentra doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The Jetta SE/SE Sport/SEL/GLI has standard Car-Net, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Sentra doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Jetta and the Sentra have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Volkswagen Jetta is safer than the Nissan Sentra:







4 Stars

4 Stars




Neck Injury Risk






4 Stars

3 Stars




Chest Compression

.6 inches

.8 inches

Neck Injury Risk



Neck Stress

213 lbs.

218 lbs.

Neck Compression

114 lbs.

137 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

255/93 lbs.

523/219 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH, results indicate that the Volkswagen Jetta is safer than the Nissan Sentra:





Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.7 inches

1 inches

Hip Force

321 lbs.

569 lbs.


Rear Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

399 lbs.

865 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Jetta its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2017, a rating granted to only 60 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Sentra is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2017.

The Volkswagen Jetta has a better fatality history. The Jetta was involved in fatal accidents at a rate 46.9% lower per vehicle registered than the Sentra, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Warranty Comparison

The Jetta comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The Sentra’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 3 years and 36,000 miles sooner.

The Jetta’s corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the Sentra’s (10 vs. 5 years).

Reliability Comparison

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Jetta has a standard 140-amp alternator. The Sentra’s 110-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Jetta has a standard 540-amp battery. The Sentra’s 470-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Jetta second among compact cars in their 2017 Initial Quality Study. The Sentra isn’t in the top three.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2016 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 25th in reliability. With 4 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 27th.

Engine Comparison

The Jetta has more powerful engines than the Sentra:




Jetta 1.4T 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

150 HP

184 lbs.-ft.

Jetta 1.8T 1.8 turbo 4 cyl.

170 HP

184 lbs.-ft.

Jetta GLI 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

210 HP

207 lbs.-ft.

Sentra CVT 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl.

124 HP

125 lbs.-ft.

Sentra 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl.

130 HP

128 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Motor Trend the Volkswagen Jetta is faster than the Nissan Sentra (130 HP engine) (automatics tested):


Jetta 1.4T

Jetta 1.8T


Zero to 30 MPH

2.7 sec

2.4 sec

3.4 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

8.4 sec

7.3 sec

9.7 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

14 sec

12.1 sec

17.3 sec

Passing 45 to 65 MPH

4.6 sec

4 sec

5.2 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

15.5 sec

17.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

86.2 MPH

90.5 MPH

80.1 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the Jetta 1.4T Manual gets better fuel mileage than the Sentra with its standard engine (28 city/40 hwy vs. 27 city/35 hwy).

The Jetta has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Sentra (14.5 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the Jetta’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Sentra:



Jetta GLI


Front Rotors

11.3 inches

12.3 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

10 inches

10 inches

9” drums

The Volkswagen Jetta has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Rear drums are standard on the Sentra. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes, which work much harder than conventional brakes.

The Jetta stops much shorter than the Sentra:





70 to 0 MPH

182 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

111 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the Jetta’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Sentra (225/45R17 vs. 205/55R16).

The Jetta GLI’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Sentra SR/SL’s 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Jetta GLI has standard 18-inch wheels. The Sentra’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

For superior ride and handling, the Volkswagen Jetta has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Nissan Sentra has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Jetta GLI handles at .90 G’s, while the Sentra SL pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Jetta GLI executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.4 seconds quicker than the Sentra SL (26.3 seconds @ .66 average G’s vs. 28.7 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

Chassis Comparison

The front grille of the Jetta 1.8T uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Sentra doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the Jetta is quieter than the Sentra SL (72 vs. 76 dB).

Passenger Space Comparison

The Jetta has .5 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom and .7 inches more rear legroom than the Sentra.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The Jetta has a larger trunk than the Sentra (15.7 vs. 15.1 cubic feet).

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the Jetta. The Sentra doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Ergonomics Comparison

The power windows standard on both the Jetta and the Sentra have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Jetta is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Sentra prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Jetta’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Sentra’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

If the windows are left down on the Jetta the driver can raise them all using the key in the outside lock cylinder; on a hot day the driver can lower the windows. The driver of the Sentra can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Jetta SEL/GLI’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Sentra’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are optional on the Jetta to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Sentra doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Jetta’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Sentra’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

The Jetta’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Heated mirrors cost extra on the Sentra and aren’t offered on the Sentra S.

The Jetta’s power mirror controls are mounted on the door for easy access. The Sentra’s power mirror controls are on the dash, hidden behind the steering wheel, where they are awkward to manipulate.

Economic Advantages Comparison

Insurance will cost less for the Jetta owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Jetta with a number “3” insurance rate while the Sentra is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

The Jetta will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Jetta will retain 34.81% to 69.33% of its original price after five years, while the Sentra only retains 38.83% to 40.57%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Jetta is less expensive to operate than the Sentra because typical repairs cost less on the Jetta than the Sentra, including $27 less for a fuel pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Volkswagen Jetta will be $868 to $3269 less than for the Nissan Sentra.

Recommendations Comparison

Consumer Reports® recommends the Volkswagen Jetta, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Nissan Sentra isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Jetta third among compact cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Sentra isn’t in the top three.

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