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Nissan Sentra vs Honda Civic



  • warnerwarner Posts: 196
    So now you agree with me. With Civics you use high RPM.

    First of all I'm a new poster and never disagreed with you that the Civic engine makes the bulk of it's power at higher revs.

    I do not like it, nor the downshift to get there. I like 6 cylinder cars just because of this. The Sentra is the only non-German compact 4 cylinder car which has good low RPM acceleration. This is what I have found so far, based on published specs. If you know some mechanics, you know this is hard to achieve. Driving a car to work everyday at age 50, I do not seek the motercycle excitement. I actually feel annoyed by the noises made by the other "sporty" cars, sometimes. You have to understand that different people look for different features on their cars. The number of drivers who hate having to use high RPM is not negligible. A lot of people do not know the importance of the location of max hoese power and max torque yet. The old specs from 10 years ago only gave the maxima. Now every specification of a new car is mandated to reveal the max HP and max torque together with the RPM numbers where the maxima appear. That is not for no reason. In fact, I would like to see the entire HPRPM and TorqueRPM curves for these cars. Without those, some car makers can still fool comsumers with cheaply designed engines, even dependable but cheap ones.

    Hey, if you like driving a tractor and keeping the revs low, that's fine with me. Don't assume that everyone likes that though, or that an engine has superior design or engineering because it makes its power at lower rpm's. It's simply designed differently. It probably has a heavier flywheel and different cam, etc to achieve that goal (and thus probably revs up much slower than an engine designed to rev as well - it takes more effort to spin that heavy flywheel up to speed). EVERY torque and rpm curve cross at 5250 rpm's, it's just a matter of what they do before and after that point. If you like low rpm torque, why stop with a 6 cylinder? Why not a big block that makes 300 foot pounds while it's idling? You'd never even have to step on the gas then, you could just put really tall gearing in the transmission and shift. My point is that each application is different. If you don't like spinning the engine up to make power that's fine and it sounds like you bought the right car for YOU, but don't assume that everyone wants that same driving experience. I would personally HATE to drive a car who's engine wouldn't wind out a little. I don't really see the advantage to the low rpm torque personally. If it were a towing vehicle or truck that carried a heavy load that's a different story (and thus why those types of vehicles are designed to make power in that range). An economy car is not a different story though.

  • tthotatthota Posts: 45
    The 06 Accord has [email protected], compared to the 96 Accord having [email protected] If both at below 3000RPM, normally where it is at 50 mph, the 06 Accord should have 20% more torque than the 96 Accord, may be even more because of improved design details. The weight difference is only 10%. Of course the 06 Accord is faster.

    Anyway, max torque at low rpm is desired in the design of small cars. Some examples are:

    2006 Saab 9-3: 2.0 liter, [email protected]
    2006 Audi A4 convertible: 1.8 liter, [email protected],
    2006 Audi A3: 2.0 liter, [email protected],
    2006 VW Golf: 2.0 liter, [email protected],
    2006 Sentra: 1.8 liter, [email protected]

    Among them, Sentra has an affordable price. I buy it because I have to pay college tuition for my son.

    A bad example among German cars is the MINI: [email protected]
  • There is quite a misunderstanding here....

    Maximum torque is just that the RPM where maximum torque occurs. Each engine has a torque cureve base on RPM. All are in a somewhat bell shaped curve . but the diffrrences in the curve, very flat to a very steep peak make a differnece in the torque. The weght of the car makes a significant difference.Also the type of transmission, automatic ( number of gears or CVT) and manual number of gears and each gear ratio. Ant then finally there is the rear-end gear ratio. If it is a large number then it in effect multiplies the torque, but your engine runs at a higher RPM and your gas mileage will be less.

    I think what maybe you shouldconcetrate on, instead of "Peak Torque" is the actual accelration times 0-10, 0-20, 0-30, 0-40, 0-50, 0-60. Most major car magazines when they review a car will give those numbers inseconds.

    You probably want to concetrate on the 0-30 or 0-20 times. This will give you a much better idea than just the max torque number of a cars actual performance.

    To put this all in perspective, would you buy a pet based solely on its eye color?

    Cruis'n in a low torque, high RPM 2.2L 4 cylinder,


    P.S.- It is amazing how many arm chair designers are better than factory design engineers ;)
  • tthotatthota Posts: 45
    I'm concerned with acceleration from 50mph to 70mph. Experience tells me that, if the torque-weight ratio is small while the engine is turning at ~2500RPM, the transmission has to downshift for acceleration. A larger engine (>2.5 liter or 6 cylinder) should have enough torque in this range, no matter which car it is.

    Compare Nissan Maxima with Sentra, the max torques are [email protected] and [email protected], and weights are 3447 and 2620. A Sentra has 76% of the weight of a Maxima, but only 50.5% of its torque.

    For the compact cars with small engines, it helps to have the max torque appear early at ~2500RPM. In addition to what I listed as example of cars designed in this way, there are the VW Passat 2.0, VW Jetta 1.9 and VW GTI 1.8. Only a strong engine can take the load of high torque output at low RPM.

    Those numbers like 0-60 in 7 seconds are for racing, where the engine turns at >5000RPM. I never have my cars run at >4500RPM for a second.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Then I'll pray for you the day an ambulance comes racing up behind you on the freeway at 90 miles per hour. We'll see where your torque gets you if you never rev your engine near the horsepower. My Honda will be singing at 5k and leaving the ambulance in the dust. FYI it doesn't hurt a car to rev it, you know, as long as you stay out of the tachometer's red zone, and even there, the engine should cut power to reduce engine speed, and prevent any damage. On my way to school today I doubt I touched 3,000 rpm, and had no problem making it to 65 mph, passing cars, or maintaining my speed up a 10% grade. This, in my car (96 Accord)whose peak torque supposedly isn't satisfactory. Yesterday, on my way home, a car was merging in to the right lane (where I was, so instead of hit the brakes and risk getting rear-ended, I gunned it, revved to about 4300 rpm, and took off. Guess what, my car is still alive. After 157,000 miles of this, same tranny, engine, block, and everything mechanical. All I've ever replaced is the main radiator fan, $250. Not bad to be such a race car driver (like a race car driver could get 2 MPGs over EPA on trips like I do, HA). :)

  • tthotatthota Posts: 45
    Can you explain why those German compact cars are designed in the way I like?
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Huh? Those german cars are also designed to rev high, for passing on the autobahn at 110 miles per hour. I doubt the Jetta 2.5, while having plentiful low-end, would be able to have get up and go if left in top gear to pass quickly at 85. It would rev higher, pushing higher into its horsepower band.
  • Okay 50-70 times. Look at those times and quit worrying about torque. So what if the car has to downshift in a automatic. So what if the RPM goes up. In a manual transmission to pass at 50-70 I would downshift from 6th to 4th. The car review on manual look at 50-70 accelration in top gear (5th or 6th) and you get a somewhat distorted perspective. Go out an drive the different cars. If you don't like the 50-70 times without going over 4,500 for a seconds don't get it.

    Torque is base on a lot of things; stroke length, engine size and aspiration. You said: "Those numbers like 0-60 in 7 seconds are for racing" No No they are a metric used to measure performane. They are used to compare one car to another; it doesn't mean you should always try to achieve.

    By the way did you know that CVT tries to always maintain the optimum engine RPM for efficiency which in many cases is 4,500 or more. Don't ever get a CVT.

    Again you misunderstand maximum torque. Maximum torque is only one measurement. Put a 4.11 rear end in a compact and see what you think of the torque!

    My experience tells me you experience is all wet; Ever look at a diesel ?

    My participation in the discussion has ended. so long.


    P.S.- I seems like you want the Sentra and are trying to find a way to justify it abeit rather obtuse. If the Sentra floats your boat more than a Civic than by all menas get the Sentra.
  • warnerwarner Posts: 196
    Cruis'n in a low torque, high RPM 2.2L 4 cylinder,


    What happened, Midcow? I thought you were buying an Si, not an S2000? Change of heart? Mind? Just wondering...

  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    The dealer couldn't get the Si he wanted (color and Navi options weren't right), so the dealer made hima deal for invoice on an S2000 instead! I'm jealous, but loving my own Honda anyway!
  • tthotatthota Posts: 45
    Each of you guys should get a S2000, so you can enjoy its peak torque: 162@6800. I'm too old for that.

    Good buy, Honda Fans!
  • Hey tthota,

    I'm older than you!. What do you think about me getting a license plate that says "Nvr2Old"

    And yes I will enjoy my peak torque at 6200 RPM :D

    S2000 MidCow
  • tthotatthota Posts: 45
    Good for you. But I feel old, you don't seem to.

    I still think Nissan is better than Honda per dollar. If I had $30,000 to spend this time, I would have bought a Maxima SE, which could be boring for you. A 350Z is not practical for me, although my favorite car was a 300Z 5 years ago.
  • crissmancrissman Posts: 145
    So far, for me, the fact that the Civic develops its greatest torque at high RPMs has really been a non-issue. The transmission is so darn smooth you hardly notice a 5 to 4 downshift (auto trans), which in most cases achieves the acceleration needed. Granted, I tend to drive conservatively, being an old gray-beard, too. Most of the time I'm just putting along in the right lane, and the Civic is only turning about 1900 RPM at 60 mph. If I had to do a lot of passing on two lane roads low end torque might be nicer, but in those situations you floor it, and any car's auto trans will kick down anyway. The two main reasons I picked the '06 Civic were its reliability and economy. All the other nice features are just icing.
  • tthotatthota Posts: 45
    According to your experience, it seems the 06 civic is better than my 97 Accord in a downshift situation. The Accord has an obvious dragging. Since I also drive a 89 BMW 325i AT, after sold my old Maxima, in them I never need a downshift and only push gas pedal gradually, the comparison is there. When I push gas pedal gradually in the Accord, my "order" is ignored every time. I tried to floor the pedal in my 06 Sentra today, it did downshift, but I only know it from the tahometer needle and sound, no dragging. To my surprise, the RPM went from 2200 (overdrive) to 3300, not 4000 as in the Accord, and the car behaved almost like the 325i. I like it. In fact, I never needed to floor the pedal in daily driving around NW Ohio. I admit the Sentra is long overdue for a redesign. The round body belongs to the last generation. When I'm paying college tuition for my son at the rate of one Civic per year, the look is less important than the lower price and $2500 rebate. It's $2500 at the top of my mortgage plus its rolling interest for the next ~15 years. I have no reservation to recommend everybody short in cash to buy the 06 Sentra. I wish Nissian had the special edition package available with manual Sentras.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    I think this will be a much more interesting discussion once the new Sentra is out. For now, the Sentra is outdated, outclassed, outfeatured, and just plain outengineered by the new Civic. Its only advantage is purchase price, but thats ok- its what happens when a model is allowed to languish over 7 model years.

    ...this coming from someone who loves his '03 Sentra (2.5L 4A)

  • tthotatthota Posts: 45
    Just for the low end torque, I still choose sentra over civic, unless I can afford an A4. At the same price, I choose outback sport over civic. We just have to agree to disagree. The good things about civic are low on my priotity list.

    As for the gas mileage, when there are still F150 on the street, we can drive cars. Sentra is only secondary to corolla and civic on mpg, by not very much. Actually the difference on mpg is the price a Sentra owner has to pay for better low rpm power. One can minimize it by intentionally not use the power. Once I managed to increase the mpg number showing on the Sentra trip computer from 32.6 to 32.9 while driving in local streets for 10 miles. If you floor the gas pedal after stopping at every red light (if no other car before you) in a Civic, the mpg will probably be below 30.

    Someone told me that Toyota and Honda have their computerized fuel system limit fuel rate to achieve optimized mpg. That is, the driver's desire is distorted by the car. I prefer manual cars because I hate to have the auto transmission distort my desire of proper gears. However, there are too many other things keeping me from getting manual ones. I certainly don't want further distortion from a stupid computer.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    If you floor the gas pedal after stopping at every red light (if no other car before you) in a Civic, the mpg will probably be below 30.

    Well that's a no-brainer right there. I'm not sure why anyone would need to floor it, though. I've never "had" to floor my Accord from a redlight to get the lead on traffic, say, if I needed to change lanes and found it easier to do so in front of everyone instead of trying to fit in the traffic. You managed to get nearly 33mpg, very nice, but compared with the Honda when driven gently, it still falls behind. I just got 36.4 mpgs on my Honda Accord, so strictly by numbers I could get approx. 43 mpg on the Civic when driven as gently.

    One last thing about Nissan that bothers me has been their Interior quality. While my granddad's 99 Nissan Frontier XE feels solid inside, the last Armada, Titan, new Frontier, Altima, and Quests I've sat in (International Auto Show) had buttons that felt loose in their housings compared to my 1996 Honda, and felt especially bad compared with my new one. They need to take a page from Honda's and Toyota's interior quality, so that I don't feel like I'm going to break the climate control knob in my hand.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    If fuel milage and low end torque are important to you, why are you ignoring all of VW's diesel offerings?

    The Sentra is a fine choice if the items where the Civic excels dont mean anything to you- efficiency, safety, room, build quality, ride, handling, resale value.

    For me, and many, thats too much to ignore simply in favor of low-end torque.

  • The only Nissan I had was a 1983 2+2 280 Zx tubo; bad turbo lag. Have a 2005 Accord 6-speed Coupe for cruis'n and my wife has a low miles 2000 Avalon XLS.


    Going to put some mile on the S2000 to break it in right. P.s I was passed by A Senta :P
  • tthotatthota Posts: 45
    The hood and wind shield of S2000 look great. The Civic Si hood is too short. 07 Sentra also has a ridiculously short hood. I'd rather loose some interior space for a car-looking car, not a fat-bread-looking one.

    I had good luck with my 83 200sx, 87 Maxima, 91 Pathfinder and 94 240sx. The 84 Celica costed me a lot on repairs. With my 97 Accord, the only problem has been the front rotors. You would think the rotors are just 30 bucks a piece. You are partially right. To take the rotors out, 3-4 hours of laber on each side, plus a special tool to pull out some stuff. My friend can replace timing belts on any Nissan, but he can't replace the Accord rotors. What a sophisticated design. I replaced rotors on 4 or 5 cars, including both rear rotors on an 89 BMW 325i, none of them costed me more than $100. There are also a good story about Accord: I have a factory muffler (in one piece with pipe) installed by dealer for $250 with life time warranty. The same repear at Tuffy would be $230, with only 1 year warranty on the pipe. Almost every Honda before 95 has rust next to the rear wheels, like every Toyota before some year has rust on the trunk lid. I hope that is history. Honda's regular maintenance cost is higher than average. Service appointments at my local Honda dealer are never current, usually a week. All the 4 Honda dealers are all that buzy. A friend has a 03 Sentra, perfect condition for 40,000 miles. Another friend bought a one-year-old Sentra with collision record 16 years ago. He treaded it in for a new car 10 years later, not a single repear other than replacing tires, break pads and muffler. Another friend spent $700 repairing her AC compressor/condenser on an 89 Accord in 1995. My ACs on the 87 Maxima, 93 240sx and 91 Pathfinder never stopped working (14 years, with original R12, very cold).
  • tthotatthota Posts: 45
    Talking about Honda quality? In 11/98, my 97 Accord and 84 Celica were hit by golf ball size dry heils while parked next to each other in College Staion, TX. There were several dozens of dents all over the Accord, costed $1400 to pop them out. There was not any trace of heil on the Celica. I have to give credit to Honda's paint, although no other car's paint was damaged by heils either. Many other cars in the city were OK too, like my Celica.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Yes, but I was obviously talking about Honda's INTERIOR quality (referring to knobs and buttons). My 96 was apparently more fortunate in a storm, as it survived the nearby F-5 tornado on April 8, 1998. Debris was everywhere, but my car survived with nary a scratch. You can check out the live footage of our local meteorologist telling about this storm on

    It's actually scary video (although no good footage is available. 34 people were killed in the storm, several in a neighborhood adjacent to mine.
  • tthotatthota Posts: 45
    Thanks for the video.

    Maybe your 96 Accord is luckier than my 97 Accord. I mean it probably, magically, did not get a 90 degree direct hit by any large debris. If not:

    I have a few friends working for Detroit. Before I bought the 06 Sentra, one of them told me to be careful about a weaker body, since some car makers reduce the thickness of body steel in the last year of a model. This is mean, unlike mechanical problems in the first year of a new model. I hope Honda did not do what others did.

    I agree with you on the Honda interior. My 97 Accord is still like new inside. My 91 Pathfinder is also pretty good after God knows how many owners. I damaged some stuff because I loaded dry walls, 2*4s and other building materials in it. At 150000 miles, it has 15-19 mpg, better than its 14-17 spec numbers. One bad case: a friend had to replace the CD/radio in his 99 Accord V6 in 2003, while the radio in his 92 Accord still working.

    Perhaps there are a few more Nissan lemoms than Honda lemoms. In general, Nissan quality is good too.
  • tthotatthota Posts: 45
    Here is another one. My department chairman drove a manual Civic for 10+ years. When he finally sold it, there were 40,000 original miles on it, but the body was like trash. He bought a 2000 Accord SE automatic. He told me he hated the feeling that every time he made a turn and tried to accelerate, he was shaked back and forth twice, dizzy. I told him a 6 cylinder or a manual car would not have that problem. Actually my tiny Sentra 1.8s AT is OK too. The 98-02 Accord model has its max torque [email protected]4900.
  • tthotatthota Posts: 45
    Here is another one. My department chairman drove a manual Civic for 10+ years. When he finally sold it, there were 40,000 original miles on it, but the body was like trash. He bought a 2000 Accord SE automatic. He told me he hated the feeling that every time he made a turn and tried to accelerate, he was shaked back and forth twice, dizzy. I told him a 6 cylinder or a manual car would not have that problem. Actually my tiny Sentra 1.8s AT is OK too. Just OK.

    The 98-02 Accord model has its max torque [email protected]4900. A v6 Accord of the same years is great: [email protected] 30% more torque for 7% more weight. If Honda changed the [email protected] to [email protected], it would have been much better at low speed, while cost Honda quite a few more dollars per engine/powertrain. Not to say [email protected], competing with Audi?
  • tthotatthota Posts: 45
    Sorry. I'll stop talking about Accord from now on. Actually I can only talk about Civic from its specs. [email protected] ~= [email protected]? I haven't tested one so far. I will test one when I go to Honda dealer to change oil for my Honda car. Maybe I'll change idea. :-)
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I'll stop talking about Accord from now on. Actually I can only talk about Civic from its specs. 1284300 ~= 1524900? I haven't tested one so far. I will test one when I go to Honda dealer to change oil for my Honda car. Maybe I'll change idea.

    I doubt it, because the Sentra does, in fact, make better low end torque. You aren't wrong here!
  • tthotatthota Posts: 45
  • I own 2001 Sentra SE and really like the car. I have it since new and all this time enjoyed relatively high amount of torque at low RPMs as well as good passing power at high RPMs. I also enjoyed number of features which weren't available in other small cars at the time of purchase - heated mirrors (really helps during freezing rain), top storage bin, keyless trunk opening, illuminated vanity mirrors, etc.
    But the car is 5 y.o. and I decided to try something new. I've checked Mazda3 and Civic, as well as many other cars. From driving prospective I liked MZ3 the best, but it's beside the point. Civic finally has almost all features which I care and which my Sentra has. It just lacks illuminated mirrors. I can live with that. I also really did not like that Civic holds RPMs when you switch gears. Feels really weird. But the major drawback for me was that despite 140hp you still can feel the lack of torque wrt 2.0L Sentra.
    I wanted to try 2L Civic. Canada has Acura CSX which is a Civic with 2L and some other goodies. But then I saw info on new Sentra, so I will try CSX and Sentra when latter comes on market.
This discussion has been closed.