Small cars are a critical component of the automotive industry, despite some nonbelievers among the car companies. These affordable vehicles are where many young buyers make their first new vehicle choices — and begin to build some brand loyalty.

That’s one of the reasons Nissan and Volkswagen are still producing vehicles like the 2024 Nissan Sentra and 2024 Volkswagen Jetta. It’s not just today’s sale they want; it’s a long-term relationship they’re after.

Let’s check out the Nissan Sentra and Volkswagen Jetta.

2024 Nissan Sentra

It’s taken a while, but Nissan’s finally figured out how to grab the attention of a young buyer: make it look sleek and sporty — and then make it very affordable.

The 2024 Nissan Sentra got a makeover for this year that does all of that. Most importantly, for someone on a budget, it’s a workhorse that ensures the owner is safely and reliably getting from Point A to Point B. And in the case of the Sentra, they get to do with some style.

The new Sentra also comes with quite a bit of safety and convenience technology, as well. If there’s one thing young buyers want, it’s plenty of good tech. Pricing starts at $22,060, including the destination charge.

Nissan Sentra Highlights

A comfortable space: The Sentra’s Zero Gravity front seats are “road-trip comfortable” and among the best in any compact sedan. Even better, they’re standard across the Sentra range. To balance things out, the rear seats are comfy as well.

Tech-focused: The Sentra’s infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard, plus a 7-inch display in the base model that gets bumped to eight inches in the SV and SR trim packages, as well as getting an additional USB-C port and satellite radio.

Safety first: Safety may be more important in small cars than in any other vehicle. Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 makes this small sedan a safer place. With forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and — unusual for the class — rear automatic braking, you get real value as well.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Sentra models for sale near you.

2024 Volkswagen Jetta

2024 Volkswagen Jetta GLI in silver.

The 2024 Volkswagen Jetta is an appealing option for buyers in the small car market due, in part, to the understated exterior styling one may expect from a German sedan.

The Jetta’s not changed much for the past few years, and with clean lines, that’s not all baInsideide, you get a roomy cabin that carries over that simple yet sophisticated theme. The Jetta features plenty of technology, which can be upgraded as you move through its six trim levels: S, Sport, SE, SEL, GLI 40th Anniversary, and GLI Autobahn.

If you require simple transportation, then the base model with a 6-speed manual (an automatic is available) transmission and good fuel economy should be on your list to consider. It’s powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, putting out 158 horsepower. It won’t snap your neck when pulling away from the light, but you won’t fear for your life merging with highway traffic either. Pricing starts at $22,660, including the destination charge.

Volkswagen Jetta Highlights

Great gas mileage: While all of the vehicles in this class are pretty good on gas, the Jetta is a bit better than most of the pack with 31 city/41 highway/35 combined mpg. At the end of the day, a nice place to be that doesn’t make excessive demands on your wallet is appealing. The Sentra’s EPA fuel economy rating is nearly identical, but both cars are considerably more fuel-conscious than the performance-minded Jetta GLI editions, which earn 24 city/35 highway/28 combined mpg.

Good basic warranty: The Jetta comes standard with 4-year/50,000-mile new car and powertrain warranties. VW’s basic warranty is better than the 3-year/36,000-mile version that comes with most vehicles in this class, including the Sentra.

Driver safety: Every Jetta with an automatic transmission comes standard with its IQ.Drive safety technology suite. It includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance, emergency stop assistance, and adaptive cruise control.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Jetta models for sale near you.


The Sentra and Jetta are affordably priced 4-door sedans that can be great values for first-time buyers or could even be an excellent long-term choice with the upgrades that come with the higher trim levels.


There is a slew of choices in the small car segment, and few are as geared toward value as these two sedans. This is one of the times in life when one gets to pick on looks or other personal preferences and not get penalized for it. With the availability of a manual transmission and the sporty GLI trims, the Jetta is the enthusiast’s choice, but the slightly more affordable Sentra is a terrific value.


2024 Nissan Sentra 2024 Volkswagen Jetta
Starting Price $22,030 $22,660
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.0-liter 4-cylinder 1.5-liter turbo 4-cylinder
Horsepower 149 hp @ 6,000 rpm 158 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque 146 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm 184 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic 6-speed manual
Fuel Economy 30 city/40 highway/34 combined mpg 29 city/42 highway/34 combined mpg (manual)
Also Available 8-speed automatic transmission, 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder
Basic Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 4 years/50,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety 5 stars 5 stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 106.6 inches 105.7 inches
Overall Length 182.9 inches 186.5 inches
Width 71.5 inches 70.8 inches
Height 56.9 inches 57.7 inches
Turning Diameter 38.1 feet 36.7 feet
Headroom, Front 38.9 inches 38.5 inches
Headroom, Rear 36.7 inches 37.3 inches
Legroom, Front 43.8 inches 41.1 inches
Legroom, Rear 34.9 inches 37.4 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 56.4 inches 55.9 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 54.5 inches 53.5 inches
Cargo Volume 14.3 cubic feet 14.1 cubic feet

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