2017 Honda Civic LX Sedan CVT vs 2017 Nissan Sentra S CVT

2017 Honda


2017 Nissan

Yes158 HP No124
Yes138 Torque No125
No12.4 Fuel Capacity Yes13.2


2/3 Winner

  •   Horse Power 100% 100%
  • Torque 100% 100%
  • Fuel Capacity 93.94% 93.94%

When you are going for quality on a tight budget, the Nissan Sentra has historically been a solid pick – compact cars are always the cheapest class around, and the Sentra sits comfortably near the bottom of the price range. There’s just one problem with shopping budget cars – you end up with a budget car. And unfortunately for Nissan, their budget cars haven’t evolved in the last decade.

It’s almost as though Nissan has given up even trying to challenge the Honda Civic for the king of the compact mountain. 15 years ago, the two were pretty close, but since them, Honda has made leaps and bounds to improve the Civic, culminating in the new 2017 Honda Civic. Honda knows that compact cars can be a flagship for a brand, a touchstone for new buyers. They know that cheap plastics, boring performance, and lackluster controls can turn drivers away, possibly for good.

Drivers are flocking to the compact segment expecting value, features, and affordability. While the 2017 Honda Civic is giving them what they came for, the new Sentra may leave them with a bad taste in their mouths.

Hatching a Plan

A single body type and bland, half-baked design highlights the 2017 Nissan Sentra, if you can call that a highlight. An underwhelming down-sizing of the Maxima, it will easily get lost in the crowded parking lots of urban America. The addition of the “V” grille and some sporty touches to the highest trim levels only highlight just how mundane the Sentra is, particularly at its bargain base trim.

For a bit there, the Civic may have looked like it was going down the same road as the Sentra, but the latest generation may be its greatest yet. To start, the 2017 Honda Civic debuts the Civic Hatchback body style, a sporty take on a four-door hatchback. Bigger than your Golfs of the world, but not venturing into station wagon territory, it wears the modern, angular front fascia of the Civic with pride.

Yes31 City MPG No29
Yes40 Highway MPG No37
Yes34 Combined Fuel Economy No32


3/3 Winner

  • City MPG 100% 100%
  • Highway MPG 100% 100%
  • Combined Fuel Economy 100% 100%

Coupe and sedan versions of the 2017 Honda Civic are still available, with the sedan offering daring curves and angles rarely seen in four-door compacts. The fastback-style roofline provides an impressive, emotive profile. The coupe is something else entirely, a fun, breezy, yet intelligent take that begs to be driven just a tad harder than many compact cars are expected to take.

Inside, the Civic stacks the deck as far as choices go. In the 2017 Honda Civic, there are several audio systems available – choose a 4-speaker, 8-speaker, or 450-watt 10-speaker unit. The standard Sentra has just four speakers, and options are quite limited. You should always have choices.

Speaking of Choices…

Would you rather have the option of two perky engines that supply plenty of power on demand, or the choice of low-output engine or an expensive, gas-guzzling option?

The budget-minded Sentra offers a single 1.8-liter engine making a thoroughly unimpressive 130 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. It is an engine that has gone essentially unchanged since we were preparing for the Y2K bug to hit. The engine is paired with either a six-speed manual or continuously variable transmission, the latter of which reduces output by 6 horsepower and 3 lb-ft of torque. Talk about sad.

The base engine of the 2017 Honda Civic has a bit more punch. A 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated, inline four-cylinder, it makes 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque. These are numbers that will instill a bit more confidence when you need to merge into traffic or get around someone to make your exit.

Nissan has made an effort to satisfy folks looking for more oomph with the SR Turbo model, sporting a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine producing 188 horsepower and 177 ft-lb of torque. This counters the 1.5-liter, turbocharged engine in the 2017 Honda Civic, which makes slightly less of both, at 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. There is one catche though – the Nissan turbo is only available on the highest-price trim.

YesStandard Rearview Camera NoNot Available
YesStandard Automatic Climate Control NoNot Available
YesStandard Second Row Head Restraints YesStandard


3/3 Winner

  • Rearview Camera 100% 100%
  • Automatic Climate Control 100% 100%
  • Second Row Head Restraints 50% 50%

Sipping, not Slurping

There is a third catch to the turbocharged Sentra, actually – it is thirsty. As a compact car, it gets 26 miles per gallon in the city and 32 miles per gallon on the highway, which is venturing into mid-sized territory. On the flip side, the turbocharged 2017 Honda Civic also gets 32 miles per gallon… except that is its city mileage with the CVT. On the highway, it can hit up to 42 miles per gallon. That extra 14 horses will end up costing you quite a bit at the pump, and you don’t have the option of the enthusiast-pleasing six-speed manual transmission.

Maybe you can explain that away to the Nissan having that extra power, but then try and explain why there is such a difference in the base engines. The bigger, more powerful 2.0-liter in the 2017 Honda Civic is estimated to make 28 MPG city and 40 MPG highway with the manual transmission, versus the 1.8-liter Sentra making 27 MPG city and 35 MPG highway. Going the CVT route doesn’t make things better for Nissan, as the Honda has an advantage of 2 MPG city and 3 MPG highway with the automatic.

Nissan has some explaining to do.

8/9 Winner

  • Over all 89% 89%

“2016 16 Best Family Cars   AutoGuide Car of the Year Overall Best Buy

2017 Honda Civic is the clear winner!

From the Experts

“The Sentra’s performance and handling, however, hold it back because its sloppy handling doesn’t inspire confidence.” – Motor Trend

“The competition might have been thrilled with the thought of Honda apathy, but it’s quite clear now the Civic won’t concede its four decades of sales dominance without a fight.”  – Motor Trend

“The new Civic has a sophisticated chassis, too, but its pleasing solidity makes it feel more mature…” – Automobile

Always a Step Ahead

The Honda Civic has a ten-year head start on the Sentra, debuting a decade prior. It seems like the Sentra has spent its entire lifetime trying to make up that head start, but it is still stuck in the past. Design, features, powerplant, you name it – the Sentra just can’t catch up to the Civic. The 2017 Honda Civic cements that fact, and it shows why the Civic is regularly considered one of the best car buys on the market.

Let Nissan get back to work while you make the smart choice with the 2017 Honda Civic.


Fuel economy estimates and driving range based on EPA test data. Your actual driving distance will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle. Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions and other factors. Complete comparison details can be found at Awards and accolade information can be found at

The 2016 Honda Civic is the 2016 North American Car of the Year. The 2016 Civic has been named to the list of 16 Best Family Cars of 2016 by Kelley Blue Book’s[1]. Each vehicle was praised for impressive comfort, driving dynamics and family practicality. [1] For more information, visit Kelley Blue Book is a registered trademark of Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc. The 2016 Honda Civic Sedan was awarded Car of the Year by Auto Guide1. [1] For more information, visit is a registered trademark of Verticalscope Inc. We’re proud to announce that the 2016 Honda Civic is the Overall Best Buy according to Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com1. [1] For more information, visit Kelley Blue Book’s Kelley Blue Book is a registered trademark of Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc. [1] For more information, visit Kelley Blue Book’s Kelley Blue Book is a registered trademark of Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc.