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2021 Nissan Rogue vs 2021 Subaru Forester

  • 2021 Nissan Rogue

    A red 2021 Nissan Rogue SV is angled left.

    Starting at


    2021 Subaru Forester

    A blue 2021 Subaru Forester 2.5i is angled right.

    Starting at


    181Torque (lb-ft)176
    27/35Fuel Economy (city/hwy mpg)26/33
    8/9Infotainment Screen (in)6.5/8

    A compact crossover is a great way to get all of the style and functionality of a larger SUV, but in a smaller size that can more easily fit into a lot of people’s lives. Choosing the right compact model is not always easy, however, especially since there are so many different ones available from pretty much every major manufacturer. Looking at the 2021 Nissan Rogue vs 2021 Subaru Forester, we can see that both of these vehicles have a lot to offer. While the Forester is a fine option, as soon as we take a good look at the specific features on both models, it becomes clear that the Nissan Rogue is simply better.

    In terms of performance, both of these crossovers have a single engine available, and while their engines are remarkably similar, the Nissan Rogue does have more torque to offer. Every model of the Forester comes with all-wheel drive, which is fine, but it eliminates the freedom to get what you want – whereas the Nissan Rogue has it as an available option for each trim. We also find that the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) of the Nissan Rogue is smoother than the similar CVT of the Subaru Forester for a more refined and responsive driving experience. While some higher trims of the Forester have paddle shifters on the steering wheel to keep you in control, you will find these on every Nissan Rogue model.

    From the outside, both models are quite similar in size, and inside them, you will get pretty comparable overall cargo space, but the Nissan Rogue gives you quite a bit more cargo volume behind the rear seats. Interior features might seem similar between them, but there are notable advantages for the Rogue, such as a standard 8-inch infotainment display, while the Forester features a 6-inch infotainment screen standard. With superior air conditioning systems, audio systems, and other advantages all available, it is easy to see why so many people choose the Nissan Rogue over Subaru’s offering.

  • Performance

    A grey 2021 Nissan Rogue is shown driving down the road after winning the 2021 Nissan Rogue vs 2021 Subaru Forester comparison.

    Even when you are looking at a compact crossover SUV, the engine is always important when considering a vehicle. So much else about driving a car or SUV is based on the kind of performance that you get from its engine, so consider this any time you compare different models. Even if the differences are not huge, they can still be noteworthy and worth keeping in mind as you figure out which SUV is right for you.

    One Engine for Each

    Both of these models have a single engine available, which makes it very easy to compare them in an accurate way. The 2021 Nissan Rogue features a 2.5L DOHC 4-cylinder engine that delivers 181 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque, which comes paired with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Similarly, the Subaru Forester also has a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine that offers 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque with a CVT. While that is technically one more horsepower, you will never really feel that difference, while the lower torque of the Forester could be more of an issue when you are on the road.

    While both of these models feature a CVT, from our own experiences, we prefer the precision and smoothness of the one on the Nissan Rogue because the feel is just better overall. It is also worth noting when looking at these transmissions that the Rogue gives you paddle shifters on the steering wheel on every model, while only higher trims of the Forester provide you with such control. Also, every Subaru Forester comes with all-wheel drive, while that is an option you can choose if you want it on the Nissan Rogue. This might not make a huge difference for some drivers, but we know plenty of people who prefer front-wheel drive, and not having that as an option on the Forester is an oversight.

  • Interior

    A tan 2021 Nissan Rogue is shown with a man opening the cargo area for a dog.

    For a lot of people, the major draw of an SUV is the fantastic interior space that these vehicles have to offer. Even a compact model, like the Nissan Rogue or Subaru Forester, should still give you plenty of room inside to take advantage of. While you will not find the kind of massive interiors of something like a three-row large SUV, the Rogue still gives you a lot of great, useable volume, while the Forester is not quite as spacious.

    Space Inside for Passengers and Cargo

    Both of these models give you pretty similar amounts of space inside for you and your passengers. They are both two-row vehicles with seating for up to five people, and in either of them, you are going to get more than 100 cu.ft. of total passenger volume. In terms of legroom and headroom in the front and back, again, they are both pretty comparable. You get about 41 inches of headroom and 43 inches of legroom in the front of the Nissan Rogue, with about 39 inches of headroom and legroom in the rear seats. The numbers are similar for the Forester; in both cases, you lose just a little front headroom if you choose a model with a moonroof.

    The more significant difference between these two vehicles comes when you look at the kind of cargo volume you get, especially behind the rear seats. In the 2021 Nissan Rogue, you get just over 36 cu.ft. of cargo capacity behind the second row, with about 74 cu.ft. of total cargo capacity with the rear seats down. An available moonroof reduces this to just under 73 cu.ft. The Subaru Forester offers about 31 cu.ft. of rear cargo volume and about 74 cu.ft. of total cargo space. That is only in the starting trim, however, as all other Forester models have about 29 cu.ft. of rear cargo space and only about 69 cu.ft. of total cargo volume. So if you want a nicer Forester model, you sacrifice a huge amount of total cargo volume, giving the Nissan Rogue a significant advantage.

  • Technology

    A tan 2021 Nissan Rogue is shown parked in a driveway surrounded by a family.

    Since most of your time with your vehicle is going to be spent with you inside of it while driving, it is always important to check out the interior features when trying to choose the right model. At a glance, you can see that both the 2021 Nissan Rogue and the Subaru Forester have a lot of good features to offer. Looking closer, however, some important differences become noticeable that make the Rogue a far better choice.

    Interior Tech That Makes the Driving Experience Better

    For example, the Nissan Rogue starts with an 8-inch infotainment display that comes standard on every model, regardless of what trim you choose. This comes paired with a 4-speaker sound system; higher trims feature an available 9-inch infotainment screen with Navigation and a 10-speaker Bose premium audio system for truly amazing sound performance. By comparison, the Subaru Forester starts with just a 6.5-inch infotainment display that really falls short of what the Rogue has to offer, with a similar 4-speaker sound system. Higher trims have an 8-inch display, and Navigation is available with a 9-speaker sound system. You can see that the Forester starts behind the Rogue, and even with higher options, it still stays there.

    Similarly, the 2021 Subaru Forester has an automatic climate control system, with a dual-zone option for higher trims, along with an available 6-inch driver multifunction display and available keyless access with push-button start. Looking at the Nissan Rogue, however, you get standard air conditioning in the starting trim, while other trims feature a tri-zone automatic temperature control system. The Rogue also has an available 12-inch digital dashboard and an available head-up display projected onto the windshield, giving you nearly 36 inches of total displayed information. Remote keyless entry and push-button ignition are standard, and most trims feature the Nissan Intelligent Key with remote start and automatic Intelligent Climate Control, which ultimately gives you a lot more to enjoy.

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