The Next Big Thing: Saying Goodbye to the Econobox
Sixteen years ago, when I wrote “Commuter Combat,” comparing the Civic, Corolla, and Sentra, these were considered economy cars that people bought mostly for budgetary concerns. The consolation cars, as some called them, were low-cost, low-feature, and high-fuel-economy A-to-B transportation and little else. Passenger-side front airbags were optional. Cassette players were standard.
Surely, what shoppers pay at the dealership and at the pump are still valid concerns, but heated leather seats, backup cameras, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitors, lane keeping assist, forward collision alert (with automatic braking), adaptive cruise control, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB jacks, and Apple CarPlay are quickly becoming common, and many of the newer compacts here have many of these newer features despite our $25,000 target price ceiling. Safety also ranks high in consideration for this segment, which might explain the ever-growing scale of the cars themselves. In that same 2000 comparison test, the Civic transitioned from subcompact to compact car. Fifteen years on, the Civic now becomes a midsize car. Our Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla qualify as midsized cars, too, according to the EPA.
We’ll compare the objective merits of this mixed group of compact/midsized sedans in terms of crash testing, instrumented track tests, fuel economy measurements by the EPA and our Real MPG lab, and Intellichoice’s five-year cost of ownership predictions. Then we’ll add in our subjective findings on an evaluation loop of varying roadways and rank them first to last. That’s the plan.
Let’s get to know the five finalists better. The 2017 Chevrolet Cruze is all-new this year, from platform to engine, and our Premier-level test car tops the model range. Both the Honda and Hyundai are new, too; the 2016 Civic EX (2.0L engine with the Honda Sensing advanced safety suite) is still a tier or two down from the most expensive Civic you can buy. No higher trim level than Limited is available for the 2017 Elantra, and it only went over our $25,000 cap by $685. Past readers of previous compact-car Big Tests will recognize the most recent winner, the 2016 Mazda3, this time in “i” Grand Touring trim, which is a relatively recent combination of the small-engined “i” with the high-end features of Grand Touring. And although the Volkswagen Jetta hasn’t been all-new since 2011, it did get a new engine this year that promises to be more frugal and just as fun as the one it replaces. (We also tested a 2016 Nissan Sentra SL and 2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition, neither of which made the finalist cut. You’ll read about them in the conclusion.)
Ride & Handling
The ever-delicate balance between a comfortable ride and nimble handling is something few get right, but it’s no surprise that the three cars with rear multilink suspensions were recognized as having come closest to the sweet spot. All but the Mazda3, Civic, and Jetta featured simpler (less expensive) twist-beam rear axles, and to keep the wallows away, the Cruze Premier augmented that with an effective Watts link. “Ride quality in the Civic, from low speeds to freeway speeds, is very good,” Angus MacKenzie said, “but crucially, it’s combined with decent body control, which means the Civic doesn’t fall apart dynamically when driven briskly through the twisties.” It also had fluid-filled suspension bushings to keep road noise down and variable ratio steering (10.9-14.1:1) that provided effective response at speed and easy low-speed maneuverability.
The Jetta was a close second. “Certainly one of the best-equipped cars for a swift romp down Potrero Road,” Frank Markus said. “Dynamic behavior is quite good for the class—very much in keeping with its European roots, but I wish the steering felt as good as it does in the Mazda.” All of the compacts featured electric-assist power steering, directing with varying degrees of success (Mazda being tops), and speaking of the pointy Mazda, a consensus grew among us that although the stiff-sporty ride suits a Mazda3 hatchback buyer, perhaps it’s not as welcome in this more mainstream sedan. We expected the Mazda to perform better than it did, both on our objective handling tests (fourth place on our figure eight and tied for lowest lateral acceleration on the skidpad) and on the curvy roads. “I find myself thinking back and wondering why this car wasn’t as fun as I was expecting it to be,” Markus said.
We all felt like the Cruze had that big-car ride in a small-car package, as it did in its previous version. The platform is noticeably robust. “Its chassis is very buttoned down,” MacKenzie said. “Body motions are very tightly controlled, but the Cruze’s low-speed ride can be busy. It’s a decent drive through the twisties, but there’s not a ton of feel or feedback through the steering wheel.” Rounding out the top five, the Elantra had brittle, arthritic ride qualities, and “steering and brake feel are notable mostly by being unnoteworthy,” Markus said. Jonny Lieberman put it through the bendy bits. “Turn the wheel just so, and the Elantra’s suspension goes haywire,” he said. “The car leans over. It hops. It’s bad.” Yet Christian Seabaugh congratulated the Elantra’s progress. “Hyundai’s come a long way on the ride-handling front,” he said. “The Elantra turns in well and rides decently. I don’t love the powertrain, though.”
Only two compact sedans here used turbochargers: the Volkswagen and the Chevy, both of which had 1.4-liter engines. The Cruze was the quickest to run to 60 mph (8.2 seconds), followed closely by the Jetta at 8.4 seconds. How successfully those two integrated their small-displacement, high-output engines and six-speed automatic transmissions was apparent, however. We noted that although the Chevy’s shifts were smooth and crisp, the VW had it beat with the most sophisticated powertrain of them all—the greatest amount of torque available at the lowest rpm, thus virtually no turbo lag, better gear ratio choices, and a more responsive and intelligent transmission sewing it all together. The manual shift mode in the Jetta was a separate gate on the console shifter; for the Cruze it was a toggle button atop the console shifter, which cuts down on hardware complexity and would seem convenient, but it really isn’t.
Surprisingly, the car with the greatest horsepower and lowest weight (Civic) was just third quickest to 60 mph. Blame the otherwise blameless CVT, which MacKenzie pronounced “a buzzkill in terms of performance feel and NVH” but which drew praise from everyone everywhere else. Markus found the CVT “a very willing partner in thrashing up Potrero Road.” What made this Honda CVT so much better than most (especially those in the Toyota and Nissan) is that it didn’t seesaw slowly and relentlessly among drive ratios, causing the engine to drone on and on. Instead, it quickly picked a suitable “gear” for a situation, held it, then when appropriate disappeared to an ultra-low final drive (1.91:1) for fuel economy. Despite chugging along most of the time at 2,000 rpm, the Civic was never caught on its heels, especially in Sport mode.
That leaves the two “conventional” 2.0-liter engine/six-speed automatic powertrains of the Mazda3 and Hyundai Elantra. Although one of the most vocal, the smooth-as-a-sewing-machine Mazda tied the VW for second place to 60 mph and was a half-second quicker than the Elantra, which revealed drivability problems with its Atkinson cycle engine. Coarseness and an almost industrial quality were noted. MacKenzie echoed this opinion on the Elantra. “The engine can sound a little thrashy when revved, and there’s an odd inconsistency in power delivery to the front wheels,” he said. “It feels like the torque converter is locking and unlocking.” Seabaugh brought up an interesting point. “This car is really begging for the 1.6-liter turbo from the Sonata,” he said. “The transmission is also a bit slushy and indecisive when shifting. The seven-speed DCT that Hyundai uses in a lot of its products would be welcome here.”
Rather than just relying on observed or EPA-supplied fuel economy estimates, we have the advantage of scientifically measured results from our Real MPG lab. We calculate the variance between our real-world numbers and the EPA’s city/highway/combined estimates to gauge the likelihood a consumer will achieve the advertised claims. And just as your eyes glaze over, we’ll also crown one easy-to-understand “three-gallon champ,” or our outright most efficient compact we tested in each of those three categories.
Starting with EPA combined economy (now the largest number on window stickers because it most closely reports what a consumer can expect day to day), two of the five finalists claim 32 mpg, two claim 34 mpg, and one, the Civic, claims 35 mpg. At the expense of power density, the only car in the test with an Atkinson cycle engine, the Hyundai Elantra, fiddles with its effective compression ratio to boost efficiency. It must work because it more or less matched its 32-mpg EPA estimate with a 32.2-mpg Real MPG combined average. The Honda Civic, the only finalist with a CVT, was the next closest to its EPA estimate but most efficient overall; it got within 98 percent of its 35-mpg claim (34.4 Real MPG). The Mazda3 (32.0 Real MPG) boasts a Skyactiv suite of technologies with direct fuel injection and a 13:1 compression ratio. Rounding out the finalists are two new turbocharged direct-injected engines, one in the Cruze, which came in at 31.9 Real MPG, and another in the Jetta, which got 29.1 Real MPG.
If you’re a regional salesman in Kansas, you’ll be happy to learn that three of the finalists overachieved their EPA highway economy estimates. The Elantra showed a 10.5 percent improvement over its 37-mpg claim with 40.9 highway Real MPG. The Jetta got 41.5 highway Real MPG, up from the EPA’s 39 mpg. The Civic improved from 41 mpg to 42.8 Real MPG. The Chevrolet and Mazda failed to meet their highway goals, the Cruze at 38.3 Real MPG (40 mpg EPA) and the Mazda at just 38.4 Real MPG (41 mpg EPA).
In the City test, none of the cars met their EPA estimates. Of note, we expected the Chevy Cruze, the only car here with a city-friendly auto stop-start engine, to perform better than it did. Still, the Cruze drew high praise from our crew for the nearly imperceptible operation of the non-defeat system at stoplights. In order of closest to farthest away from their EPA estimates: Hyundai (27.4 Real MPG to the EPA’s 28 mpg), Honda (29.6 to 31), Mazda (28.1 to 30), Chevrolet (28.0 to 30), and Volkswagen (23.4 to 28).
All of these results are difficult to parse. We know you just want to know which car is the most miserly with a gallon of gas. How about three gallons? Given just one gallon of gasoline for each test route, one in the city, one for the highway, and one in combined driving, the Honda Civic would travel the farthest, showing 106.8 miles on its trip meter. The rest are as follows: Hyundai Elantra (100.5 miles), Mazda3 (98.5 miles), Chevrolet Cruze (98.2 miles), and the Volkswagen Jetta (94.0 miles).
The takeaway? Despite not eclipsing the most ambitious EPA estimates of the group, the Honda Civic was still the most fuel-efficient sedan here and earns our three-gallon champ congratulations. You’ll likely have the easiest time matching the Hyundai Elantra’s conservative EPA estimates. The two turbocharged cars (Chevy and VW), however, had the toughest time meeting the EPA’s estimates for fuel efficiency—even with our feather-footed lab-coat-wearing Real MPG drivers.
Our favorite cabin was the leather-lined Chevrolet Cruze Premier. “It’s very rich with high-contrast black/butterscotch treatment and two-tone stitching,” Markus said. “The use of chrome and piano black heightens the impression of class-above luxe and also whispers all-American.” MacKenzie wasn’t convinced by “an excessive and at times clumsy use of very shiny chrome.” Alisa Priddle noted the nice phone holder with wireless charging. “That kind of touch, along with the Wi-Fi hot spot, the only one in the group, wins over young buyers,” she said. “Rear passengers get special treatment, as well, with heated seats and a 12-volt outlet.” It wasn’t perfect, though, as the driver’s seat back rocked minutely but perceptibly on its hinges, and the seat belt mount isn’t adjustable for height. Shorter drivers will find it uncomfortably high on their necks.
Next, the Mazda3’s once-benchmark interior is highly functional and aging well, presented this time with faux carbon fiber and red stitching. Markus praised the built-in redundancies of its best-in-class infotainment controls. “I like the choice of iDrive-like control of the device, touching the screen, or using voice commands,” he said. “Belt, suspenders, and Sansabelt.” The driving position is one of the best, and complaints were few. It’s shy on small storage and rear kneeroom. It has a glitchy USB audio interface. And that itty-bitty LCD tachometer was nearly useless.
Were it not for its lack of an actual volume knob, the spacious Honda Civic EX’s clever “a place for everything/everything in its place” interior would have ranked higher. Neither the ill-conceived toggle/swipe controller on the steering wheel nor the dab/swipe strip on the touchscreen works very well. We can’t count the number of times drivers used the prominent knob to crank up the heat instead of the tunes. We’re glad to report the two-tier instrument panel has been replaced by a crisply rendered color multidisplay, though again, navigating within it was made unnecessarily frustrating with the test’s worst steering wheel buttons. And both by supplied specs and Markus’ tape, the Civic’s interior offers the most leg- and shoulder-room (a little shy on headroom) of the finalists.
Seabaugh wasn’t quite sure what to make of the Elantra’s interior. “I’m honestly not sure if this is real leather or not,” he said, “but it feels real, which is all I suppose matters.” (It was real leather, by the way.) Markus wasn’t satisfied with the seats: “The perforated seats suggest cooling that isn’t here.” Yet it received glowing reviews of its BlueLink infotainment system, with Seabaugh leading the praise. “Modern, well organized, quick and intuitive,” he said. “Anyone can immediately feel at home after just minutes of playing with it.” And yet, much of it felt cheap. “There is a lot of hard plastic,” Priddle said, “and there are virtually no soft touchpoints on the door or armrests.” Finally, the Jetta. Although MacKenzie praised the Jetta’s design restraint, “not mistaking conservative for dull,” he called it “quietly sophisticated,” adding, “but it just doesn’t feel it, with too much obvious hard plastic and not enough surprise and delight.”
In an effort to improve fuel economy, manufacturers have put vehicles on a strict weight-reduction diet, but physics and common sense tell us that lighter vehicles fare worse in collisions. The solution, of course, is engineering and building these featherweights (2,790-3,058 pounds) so that their occupants have a higher liklihood of survivability. Smarter use of mixed materials, crumple zones, airbags, and whiplash-resistant head restraints have brought us only so far. The next step, which began in much higher-priced luxury cars, is to avoid the collision altogether with adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert (sometimes paired with emergency automatic braking), lane-departure warning (sometimes with lane keeping assist), blind-spot monitoring/warning, reverse cameras, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in conjunction with its New Car Assessment Program conducts thorough crash tests, as does the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. IIHS has led the way of late, with more numerous and more specialized tests. NHTSA’s full front- and side-crash tests (and rollover resistance computations) award up to five stars. The IIHS tests roof strength, moderate-overlap frontal-offset and small-overlap frontal-offset crash tests, and static and dynamic head restraint/seat tests, giving ratings of Poor, Marginal, Acceptable, and Good for each. They also evaluate child seat installation ease. To earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, “a vehicle must earn Good ratings in the five crashworthiness tests and an Advanced or Superior rating for front crash prevention.”
Of the finalists, two have yet to complete crash testing. The Elantra and the Cruze have no data from NHTSA. The Chevy is partially through IIHS, so far earning two of five Good ratings for moderate-overlap front and side crash tests. Considering the even smaller Chevrolet Sonic has already earned five Good ratings (and a TSP), the completely redesigned Cruze will likely garner a TSP, just shy of a TSP+ with the available forward collision alert (which lacks emergency braking). Similarly, the completely redesigned Elantra was no doubt engineered with the IIHS tests in mind. Available with both collision alert and automatic braking, it will likely get a TSP+ rating, just like the new Sonata did. That leaves the remaining Civic, Mazda3, and Jetta, all of which earned five stars from NHTSA and TSP+ from IIHS. Of these three, however, only the Civic aced the forward crash prevention category with a Superior rating. It earned points for its ability to provide a warning and also for highly effective low- and high-speed automatic braking, completely avoiding a collision in both tests. The Mazda and Volkswagen earned Advanced ratings. The Mazda3 (if so equipped, but ours was not) failed to meet NHTSA forward collision warning criteria, but it avoided a collision in IIHS’s 12-mph low-speed test. Conversely, the Jetta (if so equipped) met criteria for forward collision warning, but in the 12-mph auto-brake test, impact speed was reduced to 3 mph. Boink. Neither the Mazda nor the Volkswagen proved effective in the high-speed 25-mph auto-brake test, both failing to reduce impact speed. Bam! Our Civic was equipped with this effective system, and although we appreciate the obvious automated safety net it provides, many of us found it to be overly sensitive in everyday bumper-to-bumper driving, tossing briefcases from the passenger seat to the floor on several occasions.
It’s what you get for your money, and nobody wants to buy more car than they need, nor do they want to pay more than their neighbor for a similarly equipped car. It can also be a matter of priorities. Case in point? All the cars equipped with Apple CarPlay (Cruze, Civic, Elantra) lacked CD players, and vice versa, with the exception of the Jetta SE with Connectivity, which had both. How do you listen to your music? Or maybe extreme outdoor temperatures make a remote-starting car (Cruze and Civic) or heated leather front and rear seats (Cruze and Elantra) your must-haves.
So in an effort to quantify what you get for your money, we counted all the features on our finalists scorecards to see which car is loaded and which is stripped. Problem is, three finalists had 26 features, the other two had 22, and they all had different prices. That’s where our weighted scores come in. We put a higher value on expensive things such as keyless entry/ignition (weight of 3) than on that CD player (weight of 1). Doing all the math points to the Hyundai Elantra as the most feature-laden sedan here. But wait a moment: The Elantra was the most expensive, so it should have the highest number of nifty features. If we factor in the sedans’ as-tested prices divided by the weighted-feature score, we get a price-per-weighted-feature quotient, and the order shuffles again. The Honda, with the lowest as-tested price and an abundance of heavily weighted features, produces a $440-per-feature-point result. The rest are as follows: Elantra ($485), Cruze ($497), Mazda3 ($590), and Jetta ($691).
Cost of Ownership
There are several ways to slice this pie, and certain rows might be more important to you personally, but pretty much any way you read our Five-Year Cost of Ownership analysis, generated by IntelliChoice, it points to the Honda Civic as the thriftiest choice. Lowest depreciation, fuel cost, and repairs produced the lowest COO figure. The next in line is the Mazda3, which stands out for not standing out. The solid Mazda doesn’t have any hidden surprises lurking five years down the road. Volkswagen’s strength appears to be in low-cost financing. However, it also has the highest projected repairs costs. The Elantra takes a hit for its least competitive EPA fuel economy estimates and unexpectedly high insurance costs. Bringing up the rear is the Chevrolet Cruze, which suffers from precipitous depreciation and high financing and maintenance costs. What’s more alarming is that it has the highest target purchase price, which IntelliChoice explains is based on “destination charge and average applicable state taxes applied to a transaction price between invoice and retail prices, based on applicable incentives.”
|2016 Chevrolet Cruze Premier||2016 Honda Civic EX||2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited||2016 Mazda3 (i Grand Touring)||2016 Nissan Sentra SL||2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition||2016 Volkswagen Jetta SE TSI|
|AVG STATE FEES||$376||$380||$395||$393||$391||$383||$380|
|5-YEAR COST OF OWNERSHIP||$31,038||$26,605||$30,776||$28,288||$32,897||$27,791||$28,689|
|INTELLICHOICE Target Purchase Price||$26,461||$23,084||$26,315||$25,143||$25,946||$23,017||$22,715|
|PURCHASE PRICE: Target purchase price includes destination and average applicable state taxes applied to a transaction price between invoice and retail, based on applicable incentives.|
The seventh-place finisher, the 2016 Nissan Sentra SL, suffered with the least powerful and least efficient engine, dreadful steering and seating, the highest forecasted cost of ownership, and the worst published IIHS crash scores despite being loaded with the most features. The sixth-place finisher (and best-selling in 2015) 2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition was called out for resting on its laurels and for having the oldest platform in the group, dating back to the year Barack Obama was first inaugurated. The whole car felt unduly coarse and unsophisticated and lacked features for the money. “This is the Special Edition?” Lieberman asked. “Does the regular Corolla require assembly?” Besides, the face-lifted 2017 Corolla recently made its debut, making this version a lame duck regardless, so no review is forthcoming.
As if that weren’t enough, the Toyota and the Nissan brought up the rear in our instrumented acceleration, braking, and handling tests. Good enough is not good enough for our recommendation any longer—especially because this slice of the American car-buying pie is poised to become the largest. Truth be told, deciding which compact sedan came in last place was a far more contentious debate than which one came in first. Be careful, Toyota. You’re following in the footsteps of GM, the once-dominant domestic giant who didn’t take your cars seriously but who just built a far superior compact than the Corolla by a mile. Ironic, isn’t it?
Finishing fifth with its refined and quick drivetrain, demure styling, and suboptimal platform, the Volkswagen Jetta is overdue for a complete makeover. “The Jetta suffers from VW’s unwillingness to give its small sedan the same love and care and attention to detail as it gave the Golf,” MacKenzie said. Had the Jetta ridden on VW’s MQB platform, Lieberman said, “it would have won the test.”
For evidence of just how quickly this segment is moving along, just look to the Mazda3, the winner in the 2014 Big Test. It feels less special now and offers middling performances in almost all of our seven criteria.
Third place goes to the premium presentation from Hyundai. Despite still having the industry’s best warranty, the Elantra’s value proposition has waned. “The visuals promise,” MacKenzie said, “but the mechanicals don’t quite deliver on that promise.”
Second place goes to the surprising Chevrolet Cruze, the most improved player of the group. “It feels like an altogether more thorough effort than its predecessor,” Seabaugh said. It’s the recipient of a revamped look inside and out and has the peppiest drivetrain. Said Lieberman: “It’s nice to see an actual interior design in this segment. It’s not something you see.”
That leaves the gold medal for the Honda Civic. What more can be said about this remarkable car? Lacking luxury-oriented items like in the Chevy or Hyundai, it’s pretty evident where the development and packaging money went in this car: Efficiency, Safety, and Performance. Lieberman put to words what all the judges were feeling. “This is the first Civic in a long time that seems to have some of the old Honda magic back,” he said. “Honda magic is tricky to define, but to me it means that in a given competitive set [like this one], the Honda product stands out. It drives better, it feels better, it’s engineered better, it’s got special sauce—the X factor—and this thing has it in spades.”
|2016 Chevrolet Cruze Premier||2016 Honda Civic EX||2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited||2016 Mazda Mazda3 (i Grand Touring)|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD||Front-engine, FWD||Front-engine, FWD||Front-engine, FWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Turbocharged I-4, alum block/head||I-4, alum block/head||Atkinson cycle I-4, alum block/head||I-4, alum block/head|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||85.3 cu in/1,399 cc||121.8 cu in/1,996 cc||122.0 cu in/1,999 cc||121.9 cu in/1,998 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||153 hp @ 5,600 rpm *||158 hp @ 6,500 rpm||147 hp @ 6,200 rpm||155 hp @ 6,000 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||177 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm *||138 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm||132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm||150 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm|
|REDLINE||6,500 rpm||6,700 rpm||6,500 rpm||6,500 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||19.3 lb/hp||17.7 lb/hp||20.0 lb/hp||18.9 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed automatic||Cont variable auto||6-speed automatic||6-speed automatic|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; torsion beam, coil springs||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; torsion beam, coil springs||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|STEERING RATIO||16.1:1||10.9:1 – 14.1:1||13.9:1||14.1:1|
|BRAKES, F; R||10.8-in vented disc; 10.4-in disc, ABS||11.1-in vented disc; 10.2-in disc, ABS||11.0-in vented disc; 10.3-in disc, ABS||11.0-in vented disc; 10.4-in disc, ABS|
|WHEELS||7.5 x 17 in, cast aluminum||7.0 x 16 in, cast aluminum||7.0 x 17 in, cast aluminum||6.5 x 16 in, cast aluminum|
|TIRES||225/45R17 91H M+S Firestone Firehawk GTH||215/55R16 93H M+S Firestone FT140||225/45R17 (91W) M+S Nexen Npriz AH8||205/60R16 91H M+S Yokohama AVID S34 BlueEarth|
|WHEELBASE||106.3 in||106.3 in||106.3 in||106.3 in|
|TRACK, F/R||60.8/61.3 in||60.9/61.5 in||61.0/61.3 in||61.2/61.4 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||183.7 x 70.6 x 57.4 in||182.3 x 70.8 x 55.7 in||179.9 x 70.9 x 56.5 in||180.3 x 70.7 x 57.3 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||34.4 ft||35.7 ft||34.8 ft||37.1 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||2,952 lb||2,790 lb||2,945 lb||2,932 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||61/39%||61/39%||61/39%||60/40%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||38.9/37.3 in||37.5/36.8 in||38.3/37.3 in||37.6/37.5 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||42.0/36.1 in||42.3/37.4 in||42.2/35.7 in||42.2/35.8 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||54.8/53.7 in||56.9/55.0 in||56.2/55.3 in||57.2/54.4 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||13.9 cu ft||15.1 cu ft||14.4 cu ft||12.4 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|0-30||2.8 sec||3.4 sec||3.1 sec||2.9 sec|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||4.3||4.2||4.8||4.2|
|QUARTER MILE||16.3 sec @ 85.5 mph||16.7 sec @ 86.1 mph||16.7 sec @ 85.0 mph||16.4 sec @ 85.7 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||113 ft||127 ft||117 ft||126 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.84 g (avg)||0.82 g (avg)||0.84 g (avg)||0.81 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.1 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)||27.6 sec @ 0.61 g (avg)||27.2 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)||27.3 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1,900 rpm||1,600 rpm||2,000 rpm||1,800 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$24,860||$22,875||$25,810||$24,800|
|AIRBAGS||Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain, front knee||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain|
|BASIC WARRANTY||3 yrs/36,000 miles||3 yrs/36,000 miles||5 yrs/60,000 miles||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||5 yrs/60,000 miles||5 yrs/60,000 miles||10 yrs/100,000 miles||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||5 yrs/100,000 miles||3 yrs/36,000 miles||5 yrs/Unlimited miles||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||13.7 gal||12.4 gal||14.0 gal||13.2 gal|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||28.0/38.3/31.9 mpg||29.6/42.8/34.4 mpg||27.4/40.9/32.2 mpg||28.1/38.4/32.0 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||30/40/34 mpg||31/41/35 mpg||28/37/32 mpg||30/41/34 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||112/84 kW-hrs/100 miles||109/82 kW-hrs/100 miles||120/91 kW-hrs/100 miles||112/82 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.57 lb/mile||0.56 lb/mile||0.62 lb/mile||0.57 lb/mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded regular||Unleaded regular||Unleaded regular||Unleaded regular|
|2016 Nissan Sentra SL||2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition||2016 Volkswagen Jetta SE TSI (1.4T)|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD||Front-engine, FWD||Front-engine, FWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||I-4, alum block/head||I-4, alum block/head||Turbocharged I-4, alum block/head|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||109.7 cu in/1,798 cc||109.7 cu in/1,798 cc||85.1 cu in/1,395 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||130 hp @ 6,000 rpm||132 hp @ 6,000 rpm||150 hp @ 5,000 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||128 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm||128 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm||184 lb-ft @ 1,400 rpm|
|REDLINE||6,400 rpm||6,500 rpm||6,800 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||22.5 lb/hp||21.9 lb/hp||20.4 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||Cont variable auto||Cont variable auto||6-speed automatic|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; torsion beam, coil springs||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; torsion beam, coil springs||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F; R||11.0-in vented disc; 11.5-in disc, ABS||10.8-in vented disc; 10.2-in disc, ABS||11.3-in vented disc; 10.0-in disc, ABS|
|WHEELS||6.5 x 17 in, cast aluminum||7.0 x 17 in cast aluminum||6.5 x 16 in cast aluminum|
|TIRES||205/50R17 89Y M+S Continental ContiProContact||215/45R17 87W M+S Firestone FR740||205/55R16 91H M+S Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 Plus|
|WHEELBASE||106.3 in||106.3 in||104.4 in|
|TRACK, F/R||60.2/60.2 in||59.8/59.9 in||60.4/60.3 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||182.1 x 69.3 x 58.9 in||183.1 x 69.9 x 57.3 in||183.3 x 70.0 x 57.2 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||34.8 ft||35.6 ft||36.4 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||2,927 lb||2,896 lb||3,058 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||60/40%||61/39%||59/41%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||39.4/36.7 in||38.0/37.1 in||38.2/37.1 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||42.5/37.4 in||42.3/41.4 in||41.2/38.1 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||54.7/53.9 in||54.8/54.8 in||55.2/53.6 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||15.1 cu ft||13.0 cu ft||15.7 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|0-30||3.5 sec||3.7 sec||2.7 sec|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||5.4||5.0||4.6|
|QUARTER MILE||17.6 sec @ 79.5 mph||17.5 sec @ 81.4 mph||16.3 sec @ 86.2 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||128 ft||131 ft||123 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.82 g (avg)||0.81 g (avg)||0.81 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||28.2 sec @ 0.58 g (avg)||28.3 sec @ 0.57 g (avg)||27.3 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1,750 rpm||1,700 rpm||1,800 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$25,545||$23,520||$23,145|
|AIRBAGS||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain|
|BASIC WARRANTY||3 yrs/36,000 miles||3 yrs/36,000 miles||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||5 yrs/60,000 miles||5 yrs/60,000 miles||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||3 yrs/36,000 miles||2 yrs/unlimited miles||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||13.2 gal||13.2 gal||14.5 gal|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||24.5/37.1/28.9 mpg||27.8/40.2/32.3 mpg||23.4/41.5/29.1 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||29/38/32 mpg||29/38/32 mpg||28/39/32 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||116/89 kW-hrs/100 miles||116/89 kW-hrs/100 miles||120/86 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.60 lb/mile||0.60 lb/mile||0.60 lb/mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded regular||Unleaded regular||Unleaded regular|