It’s no secret that SUVs have been enjoying some serious time in the spotlight for the past several years. Crossovers, in particular, are more popular than ever, with consumers preferring more versatility and cargo room than sedans offer, but better fuel economy — and price tags — than full-size SUVs. Two of the most popular crossovers are the Toyota RAV4 and the Nissan Rogue.
While both are excellent choices, they’re simply different. As AutoTrader explains, “The RAV4 is a tried-and-true favorite with its origins as a little off-roader, while the Rogue has always had a greater focus on being a road-friendly crossover.” One of these vehicles is the clear winner for buyers looking for the most versatility.
A tale of two compact crossovers
Two of the top three best-selling small SUVs in America in 2019 were the Nissan Rogue and the Toyota RAV4, according to GoodCarBadCar. The RAV4 was No. 1 while the Rogue was No. 3, and only the Honda CR-V was between them. It’s not at all hard to understand why these two SUVs are both wildly popular; they even look similar.
Unsurprisingly, the RAV4 and Rogue are similar in size, with the Rogue being just a few inches longer than the RAV4. Both have above-average cargo capacity for the segment and comfortable interiors with plenty of modern technology.
You’ll find standard 7-inch infotainment systems in both SUVs, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, but notably, this is the first year that the RAV4 has Android Auto compatibility. The RAV4 and Rogue both come with a number of standard driver-assist and safety features including automatic high beams, lane-departure warning, and pedestrian detection, though Toyota is hard to beat in this category.
The Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue have similar base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines, with Nissan’s putting out 170 hp and Toyota’s, 203 hp. While the Rogue comes with just one engine across all trims, the RAV4 also offers an available hybrid powertrain. Front-wheel drive is standard on both SUVs and all-wheel drive is optional, with the exception of the RAV4 hybrid, which comes with all-wheel drive.
As you might expect, the Rogue and RAV4 get similar fuel economy, with the Nissan Rogue getting 26 city mpg and 33 highway mpg and the Toyota RAV4 getting 28 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.
What type of driver should buy the Toyota RAV4?
For all their similarities, the Toyota RAV4 is the clear winner over the Nissan Rogue, particularly when it comes to overall versatility. The RAV4 comes with an available 2.5-liter hybrid inline four-cylinder engine, while the Rogue doesn’t have a hybrid option. With the hybrid configuration, the RAV4 becomes substantially more efficient on the road, getting a whopping 41 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway.
If you really are interested in fuel savings with a hybrid powertrain, you’ll definitely want to lean toward the Toyota RAV4.
The 2020 RAV4 also got a new TRD Off-Road trim, which packs some impressive punch. According to Car and Driver, the new RAV4 TRD Off-Road comes with rally-inspired suspension, all-terrain trail tires, and a unique rugged body kit, plus it has a higher ground clearance than standard RAV4s and comes with drive modes that include Mud and Sand and Rock and Dirt.
The Nissan Rogue is showing its age
To be clear, the 2020 Rogue is certainly not a bad crossover. Just the opposite, it has an attractive starting price, decent fuel economy, and plenty of technology and safety features. However, when put head-to-head against the RAV4, it’s just not nearly as impressive. The Rogue does come with an all-wheel-drive option, but as Kelley Blue Book stated, it’s “more for snow and rain than off-roading.”
In terms of the interior, the Rogue’s is, again, just fine. There are plenty of options available and the seats and materials are adequate, it just doesn’t stand out in any way. It’s worth noting that while the 2020 Rogue has had the same design since 2014 and the RAV4 was fully-redesigned in 2019, the 2021 Nissan Rogue is all-new and may be worth a serious look.