For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Nissan Sentra are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Chevrolet Cruze doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.
The Sentra SR/SL offers optional Forward Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Cruze offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.
Both the Sentra and the Cruze have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, available blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras and rear cross-path warning.
For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Sentra its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2016, a rating granted to only 90 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Cruze is not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2016.
The Sentra’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Cruze’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).
The Sentra has 1.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Cruze LS Auto’s standard fuel tank (13.2 vs. 12.1 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
For better stopping power the Sentra’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Cruze:
For better traction, the Sentra has larger tires than the Cruze (205/55R16 vs. 195/65R15).
The Sentra S/SV’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Cruze L/LS’ standard 65 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Sentra S/SV has standard 16-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Cruze L/LS.
The Sentra SV/SR/SL 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 Cruze doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.
The Sentra has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Sentra flat and controlled during cornering. The Cruze’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.
The Sentra has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Cruze doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.
The Sentra SL handles at .84 G’s, while the Cruze LT pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.
As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the Sentra SL is quieter than the Cruze LT (76 vs. 77 dB).
The Sentra has .5 inches more front headroom, .5 inches more front legroom, 1.3 inches more rear legroom and .7 inches more rear shoulder room than the Cruze.
The Sentra has a larger trunk than the Cruze (15.1 vs. 14.8 cubic feet).
The Sentra’s standard folding rear seats are split to accommodate bulky cargo. The Cruze L/LS’ standard single piece folding rear seat is not as flexible; long cargo and a passenger can’t share the rear seat.
The Sentra’s driver’s power window opens or closes with one touch of the window control, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths. The Cruze’s standard driver’s power window switch has to be held the entire time to close it fully.
The Sentra has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Cruze doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.
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 Cruze doesn’t offer extendable visors.
The Sentra SL’s standard 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 Cruze doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.
To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Sentra SR/SL offers an optional 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 Cruze doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Sentra is less expensive to operate than the Cruze because it costs $261 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Sentra than the Cruze, including $194 less for a water pump, $216 less for an alternator, $43 less for front brake pads and $185 less for a timing belt/chain.
The Nissan Sentra outsold the Chevrolet Cruze by 17% during the 2016 model year.