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Compare the2022 Nissan SentraVS 2021 Volkswagen Golf

2022 Nissan Sentra
2021 Volkswagen Golf

Safety

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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Nissan Sentra have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Volkswagen Golf doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Sentra are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Golf doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Nissan Sentra has standard driver and front passenger side knee airbags mounted low on the dashboard. These airbags helps prevent the driver and front passenger from sliding under their seatbelts or the main frontal airbags; this keeps them better positioned during a collision for maximum protection. Knee airbags also help keep the legs from striking the dashboard, preventing knee and leg injuries in the case of a serious frontal collision. The Golf doesn’t offer knee airbags.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Sentra has standard Rear Automatic Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Golf doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Sentra’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The Golf doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Sentra SR offers an optional Around View® Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Golf only offers a rear monitor.

The Sentra’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Golf doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Sentra and the Golf have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning and available daytime running lights.

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

Sentra

Golf

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

29%

34%

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 and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Nissan Sentra is safer than the Volkswagen Golf:

Sentra

Golf

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

162

185

Chest Movement

1.1 inches

1.2 inches

Abdominal Force

196 G’s

217 G’s

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

160

368

Spine Acceleration

45 G’s

63 G’s

Hip Force

444 lbs.

588 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

14 inches

HIC

160

274

Spine Acceleration

36 G’s

45 G’s

Hip Force

660 lbs.

674 lbs.

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

Instrumented handling tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and analysis of its dimensions indicate that the Sentra, with its five-star roll-over rating, is 3.5% less likely to roll over than the Golf, which received a four-star rating.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Sentra the rating of “Top Pick” for 2021, a rating granted to only 137 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Golf last would have qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2017.

Warranty

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Nissan’s powertrain warranty covers the Sentra 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Volkswagen covers the Golf. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the Golf ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

The Sentra’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Golf’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

There are over 68 percent more Nissan dealers than there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Sentra’s warranty.

Reliability

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A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Sentra’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the Golf’s camshafts. If the Golf’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Sentra second among compact cars in their 2021 Initial Quality Study. The Golf isn’t in the top three.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2021 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Nissan vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan fifth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 67 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 30th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2021 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 21st in reliability. With 35 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 28th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ January 2021 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 11 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Transmission

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The Nissan Sentra comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Golf.

The Sentra has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Golf doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Sentra stops much shorter than the Golf:

Sentra

Golf

70 to 0 MPH

170 feet

184 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

114 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Sentra SR’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Golf (215/45R18 vs. 205/55R16).

The Sentra SR’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Golf’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Sentra SR has standard 18-inch wheels. The Golf’s largest wheels are only 16-inches.

The Sentra has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Golf doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Sentra’s wheelbase is 3 inches longer than on the Golf (106.6 inches vs. 103.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Sentra is 1.4 inches wider in the front and 2.4 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Golf.

The Sentra SR handles at .89 G’s, while the Golf TSI pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Sentra SR executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Golf TSI (27 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 27.4 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

Chassis

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

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Sentra SR is quieter than the Golf TSI:

Sentra

Golf

At idle

38 dB

38 dB

Full-Throttle

76 dB

80 dB

70 MPH Cruising

70 dB

71 dB

Passenger Space

© 1999 - 2024Advanta-STAR Automotive Research, all rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America (“Advanta-STAR”). If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it, or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. Removal of this watermark/notification without prior written license and approval received from Advanta-STAR is an agreement, understanding, and/or stipulation by the person(s), entities, agents, attorneys, and any other persons involved in the removal of this watermark/notification (including but not limited to Search Optics, LLC and any and all parent entities, sister entities, and subsidiary entities of Search Optics, LLC and/or any other entity, agent, attorney, and persons related in any manner to Search Optics, LLC) to: 1) an agreed upon amount of liquidated monetary damages of a minimum of $1,250,000.00 US Dollars in favor of Advanta-STAR; 2) the jurisdiction and enforcement of any legal claims associated with this matter asserted by Advanta-STAR in the United States Federal District Court in Portand, Oregon; and 3) service of process of any legal claims asserted by Advanta-STAR associated with this matter may be accomplished by First-Class Postage by the United States Postal Service or comparable service. XPYNN-M34HG 2a06:98c0:3600::103 2024/04/21

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Sentra a Mid-size car, while the Golf is rated a Compact.

The Sentra has 2.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Golf (96 vs. 93.5).

The Sentra has .5 inches more front headroom, 2.8 inches more front legroom, .5 inches more front shoulder room and .6 inches more rear shoulder room than the Golf.

Ergonomics

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The Sentra (except S) offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Golf doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

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 Sentra’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Golf’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Sentra detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Golf doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Sentra has standard extendable sun visors. The Golf doesn’t offer extendable visors.

On extremely cold winter days, the Sentra SV/SR’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Golf doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Sentra (except S)’s optional dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Golf doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

The Sentra (except S)’s optional automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Golf doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Sentra SV/SR has a standard Intelligent Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Golf doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Sentra is less expensive to operate than the Golf because it costs $391 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Sentra than the Golf, including $155 less for a water pump, $48 less for a muffler, $8 less for front brake pads, $370 less for a starter and $253 less for front struts.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2024Advanta-STAR Automotive Research, all rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America (“Advanta-STAR”). If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it, or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. Removal of this watermark/notification without prior written license and approval received from Advanta-STAR is an agreement, understanding, and/or stipulation by the person(s), entities, agents, attorneys, and any other persons involved in the removal of this watermark/notification (including but not limited to Search Optics, LLC and any and all parent entities, sister entities, and subsidiary entities of Search Optics, LLC and/or any other entity, agent, attorney, and persons related in any manner to Search Optics, LLC) to: 1) an agreed upon amount of liquidated monetary damages of a minimum of $1,250,000.00 US Dollars in favor of Advanta-STAR; 2) the jurisdiction and enforcement of any legal claims associated with this matter asserted by Advanta-STAR in the United States Federal District Court in Portand, Oregon; and 3) service of process of any legal claims asserted by Advanta-STAR associated with this matter may be accomplished by First-Class Postage by the United States Postal Service or comparable service. XPYNN-M34HG 2a06:98c0:3600::103 2024/04/21

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Nissan Sentra and the Volkswagen Golf, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Nissan Sentra outsold the Volkswagen Golf/GTI by over 10 to one during the 2021 model year.

© 1999 - 2023 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.