Jones Ford Buckeye Compares 2017 Ford Focus VS 2017 Nissan Sentra Near Surprise, AZ

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2017 Ford Focus

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2017 Nissan Sentra

Safety Comparison

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Ford Focus have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Nissan Sentra doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The Focus Titanium’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Sentra doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Focus (except S) offers optional SYNC®, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Sentra doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Focus and the Sentra have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, available blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Ford Focus is safer than the Nissan Sentra:





5 Stars

4 Stars




5 Stars

4 Stars




Neck Injury Risk



Neck Stress

239 lbs.

305 lbs.

Neck Compression

54 lbs.

70 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

168/250 lbs.

195/290 lbs.




4 Stars

3 Stars




Chest Compression

.6 inches

.8 inches

Neck Injury Risk



Neck Stress

173 lbs.

218 lbs.

Neck Compression

41 lbs.

137 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

404/227 lbs.

523/219 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Ford Focus is safer than the Nissan Sentra:





Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

1 inches

1 inches

Hip Force

293 lbs.

569 lbs.


Rear Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

626 lbs.

865 lbs.


Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

17 inches




Spine Acceleration

39 G’s

42 G’s

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty Comparison

There are almost 4 times as many Ford dealers as there are Nissan dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Focus’ warranty.

Reliability Comparison

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Focus has a standard 590-amp battery. The Sentra’s 470-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

Engine Comparison

The Focus’ standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 30 more horsepower (160 vs. 130) and 18 lbs.-ft. more torque (146 vs. 128) than the Sentra’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Ford Focus 4 cyl. is faster than the Nissan Sentra (130 HP engine) (automatics tested):




Zero to 30 MPH

2.7 sec

3.4 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7.6 sec

9.5 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

21.3 sec

32.2 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

8.1 sec

10 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.6 sec

4.8 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

5 sec

7.1 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

17.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

89 MPH

81 MPH

Top Speed

121 MPH

120 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the Focus SE Sedan SFE gets better fuel mileage than the Sentra Manual (30 city/40 hwy vs. 27 city/35 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Focus 1.0 ECOBoost’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Sentra doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Focus has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Sentra doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

The Focus stops much shorter than the Sentra:





70 to 0 MPH

173 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the Focus’ optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Sentra (215/50R17 vs. 205/55R16).

The Focus Titanium offers an optional full size spare tire so your trip isn’t interrupted by a flat. A full size spare isn’t available on the Sentra, it requires you to depend on a temporary spare, which limits mileage and speed before replacement.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

For superior ride and handling, the Ford Focus has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Nissan Sentra has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Focus has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Sentra’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Focus’ drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Sentra doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

The Focus Titanium Sedan handles at .88 G’s, while the Sentra SL pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Focus Titanium Sedan executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.5 seconds quicker than the Sentra SL (27.2 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 28.7 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

Chassis Comparison

The Focus Sedan is 3.4 inches shorter than the Sentra, making the Focus easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Ford Focus amounts to more than styling. The Focus has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .295 Cd. That is lower than the Sentra (.29 to .3) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Focus get better fuel mileage.

The front grille of the Focus uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Sentra doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Focus Sedan is quieter than the Sentra SL:




At idle

37 dB

37 dB


73 dB

76 dB

70 MPH Cruising

69 dB

71 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

The Focus has .6 inches more front legroom, 3 inches more front hip room, .9 inches more front shoulder room, 1.3 inches more rear headroom and 2.7 inches more rear hip room than the Sentra.

Ergonomics Comparison

The Focus automatic offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Sentra doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The power windows standard on both the Focus and the Sentra have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Focus is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Sentra prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Focus Titanium’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Sentra’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Focus’ available exterior PIN entry system. The Sentra doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Focus Titanium detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Sentra doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Focus’ power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Sentra’s power mirror controls are on the dash, hidden behind the steering wheel, where they are awkward to manipulate.

On extremely cold Winter days, the Focus’ optional (except S) heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Sentra doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Focus Titanium’s optional Active Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Sentra doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages Comparison

Insurance will cost less for the Focus owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Focus with a number “1” insurance rate while the Sentra is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Focus is less expensive to operate than the Sentra because typical repairs cost less on the Focus than the Sentra, including $94 less for an alternator, $7 less for front brake pads, $68 less for fuel injection, $83 less for a fuel pump and $53 less for front struts.

Recommendations Comparison

The Focus was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 7 of the last 17 years. The Sentra has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The Focus was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” for 4 of the last 16 years. The Sentra has never been an “All Star.”

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