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The Nissan Sentra and the Lexus ES are both popular mid-sized, 5-seater sedans available in the U.S. Both models also feature a brand new version for 2020. If you’re looking for a car along these lines, you might be wondering how these two vehicles compare.

 

The truth is that while they fall into the same class of vehicle, they are very different in some key ways.

Price and trims

The Nissan Sentra is by some distance the most affordable option — no surprise since Lexus is considered a semi-luxury brand. The MSRP for the entry-level Sentra is only $19,090 while the Lexus starts at double that price — $39,990.

 

The Sentra comes in 3 trims while the ES comes in 7 trims, 3 of which are hybrid options. Prices for the Sentra only range upwards about $2,000, with the SR weighing in at $21,430. On the other hand, the most expensive ES costs $45,600 which is well over double the price of that Sentra SR.

 

Here is a full table with price comparisons across the various trims:

 

Sentra

ES 350

ES 300h (hybrid)

S: $19,090

350: $39,990

300h: $41,810

SV: $21,270

350 F Sport: $44,635

300h Luxury: $44,655

SR: $21,430

350 Luxury: $42,755

300h Ultra Luxury: $45,600

 

350 Ultra Luxury: $43,750

 
 

So, in short, the Sentra is definitely the best option for those on a budget. At almost half the price, the Sentra is in a completely different price class than the Lexus ES. The Sentra can easily be considered a budget vehicle while the ES is more in the mid-range luxury class.

Engine and performance

The biggest difference between the two here is that the ES features a hybrid option with three trims.

 

The standard Lexus has a 3.5L V6 engine that puts out 302 horsepower and 276 RPM of torque. In contrast, the Sentra features a much more lightweight 2.0L Direct Injection Gasoline™ (DIG) DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine with 149 horsepower and 146 LB-FT. Of torque.

 

The hybrid Lexus is powered by a 2.5L inline 4-cylinder engine with 216 horsepower and 163 LB-FT. of torque.

 

Lexus utilizes 8-speed automatic transmission in the fuel-powered version with variable transmission in the hybrid. The Sentra comes standard with Nissan’s CVT (continuously variable transmission).

 

Both models offer forward-wheel drive only.

 

The one benefit of the Sentra’s smaller engine is that it has better fuel economy. Here’s a table that compares the fuel economy of the different Sentra and ES versions.

 

Type of Driving

Sentra

ES (Fuel)

ES Hybrid

Highway

39

32

44

City

33

22

43

Combined

37

29

44

 

Of course, the hybrid outdoes both of the other two options with room to spare, but it’s a pricier option with less power than the ES (fuel). 

Interior and comfort

Of course, you can expect a slightly more decadent interior from the ES with better quality materials. In general, the Lexus tends to rely on straighter lines with more angular designs while the Sentra is softer and rounder.

 

The Luxury ES models come with an appropriate interior that features leather, wood accents, and ambient lighting. The Ultra Luxury features additional leather trimming and sun shaded windows.

 

All Sentra trims come standard with cloth upholstery while leatherette options are available.

 

The Sentra SV comes with premium cloth seating while the Sentra SR features sporty contrast stitching in orange. The Lexus ES F Sport features a dramatic red and black interior. While some will find the latter exciting, it might be slightly gaudy for others.

 

Heated front seats are optional with all Sentral trims. They’re standard with all but the entry-level Lexus ES model.

 

Both vehicles have a seating capacity of 5. Without a moonroof, the Sentra has slightly more headroom although with a moonroof it has less. The Sentra also provides slightly more shoulder and legroom.

 

However, the ES has noticeably more cargo space with a default capacity of 16.7 cubic feet vs. 14.3 cubic feet.

Infotainment, Safety, and Driver Assist

In terms of infotainment, both come with a screen display, although the Lexus has a larger 12.3-inch display. Both have all the features you would expect like Apple CarPlay, FM/AM radio, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity.

 

The Sentra offers premium Bose speakers as a paid add-on. And all Lexus models come standard with premium Mark and Levinson speakers. Unfortunately, the Sentra doesn’t feature rear speakers while the Lexus doesn’t come with a CD player.

 

Nissan is usually generous with their safety and driver-assist technologies, and the Sentra is no exception. There is even a dedicated driver-assist display. Numerous airbags, LATCH systems, and tire monitoring are all standard as well as automatic emergency braking, collision avoidance, and blind-spot warning.

 

The Lexus is not to be outdone with a pre-collision system, lane tracing assist, lane departure and steering assistance, cruise control, and vehicle stability control.

 

Safe to say, in terms of infotainment and safety these two are pretty much on par, despite the major price difference.

Which is the right mid-sized sedan for you?

As you can see, by far the biggest differences between these two vehicles come down to price and luxury. The ES is undoubtedly the more luxurious option with a more powerful engine and a higher-quality interior.

 

In terms of design, both inside and out, the Lexus narrowly comes out on top although it does come down somewhat to personal preference.

The Nissan Sentra offers affordability and safety in one

That being said, the Sentra definitely wins out as a budget-friendly option with plenty to offer at nearly half the price. Luckily, you won’t have to compromise on safety if you do choose to go with the Sentra (and that’s the most important aspect for the majority of people). With that in mind, the Sentra is probably the best choice for most people.

 

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