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 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 5 points, IIHS rates the Forward Emergency Braking optional in the Sentra as “Superior.” The Cruze scores only 1 point and is rated only “Basic.”
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, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems 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 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 140 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Cruze has not been fully tested, yet, but doesn’t qualify for 2017 “Top Pick.”
The Sentra’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Cruze’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 7 places higher in reliability than Chevrolet.
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 Sedan pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.
For better maneuverability, the Sentra’s turning circle is 3.9 feet tighter than the Cruze’s (34.8 feet vs. 38.7 feet).
As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the Sentra SL is quieter than the Cruze LT Sedan (76 vs. 77 dB).
Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Sentra a Mid-size car, while the Cruze is rated a Compact.
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 Sedan.
The Sentra has a larger trunk than the Cruze Sedan (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 power windows’ 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’s optional rear view mirror has an automatic dimming feature. This mirror can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on it, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Cruze doesn’t offer the luxury of an automatic dimming rear view mirror.
The Sentra SV/SR/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 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 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 $343 less for a water pump, $192 less for a muffler, $1 less for front brake pads, $108 less for a starter and $16 less for front struts.
The Nissan Sentra outsold the Chevrolet Cruze by 18% during 2017.