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A used Nissan Sentra could be a good choice for any buyer on a budget, but don’t miss out on some key competitors. The compact sedan market is competitive and varied, and there are lots of great options if you’re shopping for an affordable and well-equipped small car. Before you settle on a 2019 Nissan Sentra, consider the 2019 Honda Civic. 

The 2019 Nissan Sentra isn’t as powerful as the 2019 Honda Civic

The Honda Civic’s base engine is an efficient four-cylinder good for 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque. Mid- and upper-range trim levels in the Civic lineup use a more powerful turbo four that makes 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Shoppers who are looking for higher performance can consider a used Honda Civic Si, good for 205 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, or the range-topping Civic Type R, with 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque.

The 2019 Nissan Sentra has a hard time keeping up with that. Its base four-cylinder engine creates only 130 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque, which is particularly weak and watered-down for this segment. While the Sentra’s available turbocharged engine is good for 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque—more than the classic Civic’s turbo—it can’t compete with the Civic’s more powerful engines.

Interior space and comfort are about equal between the two

An orange 2019 Nissan Sentra parked in front of a large digital banner at an auto show
2019 Nissan Sentra | David McNew/Getty Images

Car Buying Strategies claims that “in terms of comfort, these cars are virtually a tie. They provide a similar amount of passenger and cargo space. However, the Civic’s front seats are more relaxing. Neither car offers high-end features like ventilated seats or a head-up display.”

Certain Nissan Sentra trim levels do offer some premium features. But, 2019 Civic trim levels of equal price can match it. Headroom, legroom, and shoulder room are about equal between the two compact sedans, and you should be able to find a used model that comes with plenty of standard features.

The 2019 Honda Civic received better safety ratings from the NHTSA

The 2019 Civic received five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for its exceptional safety. A used Civic is one of the safest choices you can buy for the price. From the same organization, the 2019 Sentra received only four stars. You’ll find more standard safety features in the Civic than in the Sentra. These include automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control.

However, note that the 2019 Nissan Sentra got better safety scores than the Civic from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This is possibly because of low scores for the 2019 Civic’s headlights.

The 2019 Civic has more strengths than the 2019 Sentra

A red 2019 Honda Civic compact sedan parked next to a beach
2019 Honda Civic | Honda

A Used 2020 Nissan Sentra Is A Smart Purchase

While the 2019 Nissan Sentra can put up a solid fight, it just can’t beat out the 2019 Honda Civic. Unless you’re just buying based on price, that is. A used Sentra will likely cost significantly less than a used Civic no matter where you live. And, the 2019 Sentra was rated as slightly more reliable than the Civic of the same year.

But, if you want a well-rounded, well-equipped used compact car that’s more engaging to drive, the Sentra can’t quite hold a candle to the Civic.