A blue 2021 Nissan Sentra is shown driving down a road during a 2021 Nissan Sentra vs 2021 Toyota Corolla comparison.

A Commuter’s Dream: The 2021 Nissan Sentra vs The 2021 Toyota Corolla

While crossovers and SUVs often get top billing as the most popular vehicles in America, compact sedans continue to prove their value among commuters who appreciate their efficiency, affordability, and maneuverability; just ask anyone who’s ever tried to park a full-size SUV in a parking space on a cramped and busy city street! Nissan and Toyota make two of the most popular compact sedans on the road today – the Sentra and Corolla. But which one is better? Making that decision starts with a quick look at the similarities and differences of the 2021 Nissan Sentra vs 2021 Toyota Corolla to determine your must-haves in your next sedan.

Comfort and Design: Seating and Materials

When it comes to your comfort, you can’t beat the 2021 Nissan Sentra with its renowned Zero Gravity seats. Exclusive to Nissan and inspired by the weightlessness of space, Zero Gravity seats outperform the competition by optimizing your posture and ensuring your comfort whether you’re traveling 20 miles or 2,000 miles down the road. So, how do they do it?

Nissan engineers studied the position of the spine in space and discovered that the body assumes a neutral spinal posture, putting the least amount of stress on the bones and joints to reduce fatigue. Nissan then spent a decade designing a seat that would mimic this weightlessness. To do this, the Sentra’s Zero Gravity seats feature a unique shape and structure with 14 pressure points that position you in a natural, neutral posture that optimizes blood flow, boosts your energy, and reduces fatigue.

Beyond the Sentra’s Zero Gravity seats, which are available in premium leatherette, quilted leather, or sport cloth, the compact sedan is designed specifically with you in mind. Every control and feature from the infotainment system to the air conditioning dials are placed to maximize operability and intuitive use. The steering wheel is specifically designed with driver touchpoints to give you a controlled and comfortable grip, actively reducing fatigue anytime you’re behind the wheel.

Like the Sentra, the 2021 Toyota Corolla promises a comfortable ride and premium design. However, there is one obvious difference between the sedans – the absence of anything comparable to the Sentra’s Zero Gravity seats. While the Corolla’s seating is plush and comfortable, it comes up short of what you’ll experience on the Sentra and how long you can drive the Nissan with minimal fatigue. This, however, is the only significant difference since, like Nissan, Toyota designed the Corolla with soft-touch materials that make everything from the steering wheel to the dials, buttons, and shifter comfortable and smooth to the touch.

A person is shown sitting in the driver's seat of a 2021 Toyota Corolla XSE.

Data and Connectivity: Digital and Touchscreen Displays

The 2021 Sentra and the 2021 Corolla are evenly matched when it comes to data and connectivity, proving that Nissan and Toyota are both committed to keeping you informed and connected wherever the road leads. Both models come standard with a 4.2-inch digital driver information display. This digital driver information display, which is known as the “TFT Multi-Information Display” on the Toyota and a “digital multi-information driver’s display” on the Nissan, gives you vital data like speed, mileage, outside temperature, fuel level, and more in a crisp layout behind the steering wheel, allowing you to quickly glance down to get the information you need.

The Sentra and Corolla also come standard with a 7.0-inch center touchscreen display, which can be upgraded to an 8.0-inch option on both models, offering a variety of tools like smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth capability, available navigation, and a WiFi hotspot. On the Sentra, the 8.0-inch floating display includes NissanConnect and comes with a larger 7.0-inch digital multi-information driver display. On the Corolla, the upgrade requires the SE Connectivity Package and also changes the size of the TFT Multi-Information Display to a 7.0-inch screen.

Engineering Confidence: Safety and Driver-Assist Technology

Another must-have in any sedan is plenty of safety and driver-assist features that extend your visibility and actively minimize the potential for collision. You’ll find plenty of these features on both the 2021 Sentra and the 2021 Corolla but, once again, Nissan goes above and beyond to engineer confidence when you’re behind the wheel of its stunning sedan. How do the models compare?

The Sentra and Corolla come with a standard suite of safety features known as the Nissan Safety Shield 360 and Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, respectively. The suites feature comparable tools with brand-specific names, providing a high level of safety and peace of mind no matter how busy your commute is.

For example, the Nissan suite includes:

  • Intelligent Forward Collision Warning
  • Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • High Beam Assist
  • Blind Spot Warning
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Rear Sonar System
  • Rear Automatic Braking

On the Corolla, you’ll find:

  • Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
  • Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
  • Automatic High Beams
  • Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
  • Road Sign Assist

You’ll also find plenty of available upgrades and driver-assist technology on both models. The 2021 Sentra offers Intelligent Cruise Control and an Intelligent Around View Monitor, the latter of which gives you a 360-degree bird’s eye view around the Sentra. Meanwhile, Intelligent Cruise Control constantly monitors the flow of traffic and adjusts the Sentra’s cruising speed as needed. For 2021, Toyota gives you the option to extend your visibility around the Corolla with the available Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert – two features that come standard on the Sentra.

Beyond these standard and available safety and driver-assist tools, Nissan once again raises the standards in the segment with the addition of NissanConnect. NissanConnect is your hub of connectivity and gives you access to your smartphone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, as well as virtual assistants like Alexa and Google. However, its functionality extends beyond that to a suite of emergency services that truly set the feature apart in the segment. Through NissanConnect, you can have peace of mind in any emergency thanks to the Automatic Collision Notification system that senses when the airbags deploy and immediately puts you in touch with emergency personnel. You can even use the system to reach out to Nissan’s Roadside Assistance whether you’ve had a flat tire, run out of fuel, or need a jumpstart.

An orange 2021 Nissan Sentra is shown from a rear angle driving down a city street.

Which Will You Choose?

Compact sedans may often be overshadowed by their larger siblings on the road, but that isn’t to say they aren’t a great value to drivers looking for maneuverability, efficiency, and affordability. Sedans like the 2021 Nissan Sentra and the 2021 Toyota Corolla are two of the most popular in the segment and offer exceptional value when you compare their starting prices with everything that they have to offer. So, which one takes the crown as the best sedan for commuters? It depends on your priorities.

For those who spend a lot of time commuting or traveling for work, there’s no question that the 2021 Nissan Sentra is an exceptional option with its exclusive Zero Gravity seats, expansive displays, and advanced safety technology. The Corolla’s ride quality isn’t terrible, but there’s a noticeable difference between the models. This difference is one that’s worth further exploring by test-driving the models to determine which sedan best suits your needs.