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2019 Nissan Rogue vs. 2019 Subaru Forester

John Coyle | February 27, 2019

Today, we're giving you the scoop on two vehicles in the red-hot crossover segment for our new Head to Head feature.

In this corner, we have the 2019 Nissan Rogue, which should be familiar to buyers from the Star Wars-themed spots in heavy rotation around the release of The Last Jedi. And while it might not be as advanced as one of the Rebel Fleet's trusty X-Wing Fighter, Nissan's packed the Rogue with handy technology that'll likely make any mission you're set to run a less stressful experience.

That said, don't expect it to be much help against a killer space station.

Next, we have the 2019 Subaru Forester, the compact SUV from Subaru, a brand that's been wooing the REI and Patagonia set for over two decades. It's fully redesigned for 2019, and while the Foreste, no longer has a turbocharged option, the standard 2.5-liter flat four has gotten a power bump.

Plus, it'll come in handy if you want your friends to actually believe you spend your weekends hiking - and not binging Red Dead Redemption. 


Powertrain

First off, let’s have a look under the hood and check each of our competitor’s powertrains.

The Rogue offers a choice of two engines, 2.5-liter four-cylinder good for 170 horsepower, or a hybrid unit, which includes a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and an electric motor, and puts out an additional six ponies, for a total of 176 horsepower. All-wheel drive is available in either configuration, and as you’d expect, the hybrid scores best for fuel economy, delivering an EPA combined rating of 34 for front-wheel drive, and 33 in all-wheel drive spec. Traditional models deliver 29 for front-wheel drive and 27 for all-wheel drive.

In comparison, the Forester keeps it simple by offering a single drivetrain. Coincidently, it’s also a 2.5-liter four cylinder, though at 182 horsepower, it’s a hair more potent than the Nissan’s. It’s also mated to a CVT, and matches the front-wheel Rogue’s combined 29 mile-per-gallon score, though in keeping with tradition, every Forester is an all-wheel drive affair.

Now, enthusiasts will note the single drivetrain means there’s no manual transmission available, but since Subie makes the BRZ and WRX, both of which can be had with a third pedal, we’re inclined to give them a pass here. Unsurprisingly, Nissan doesn’t offer one either.

Shop Subaru Forester Inventory

Performance

As far as performance goes, neither of these cars are going to win any drag races, and that’s fine. Because if you’re looking for a practical crossover, it probably means you have priorities over hitting the strip after work. That said, while it makes do with slightly less power, the gas engine Rogue makes the jump to 60 miles per hour in 9.1 seconds. That’s pretty leisurely by modern standards, but at 9.6 seconds, the Subaru is slower still.

In this comparison, we have to give Subaru credit for making all-wheel drive standard, as well as matching the comparable Nissan in MPGs. And realistically, buyers will likely never think about how different their lives would be if they were able to shave a couple tenths off a performance metric.

The Subaru also has 8.7 inches of ground clearance, in comparison to the Nissan’s 8.4, which will give it an edge on trails or deep snow.

So while it might be a tick slower, standard all-wheel drive and brand’s reputation for all-weather readiness makes the Forester the winner here.

Shop Nissan Rogue Inventory

Cabin Interior

Now, let’s take a look inside the cabin: Both vehicles are designed for five passengers, and at 185 inches, the Rogue has three inches in overall length on the Subaru. And while it’s close, that means the Rogue edges out the the Forester in many interior metrics.

For example, the Rogue has 43.3 inches of front legroom, while the Subaru has an even 43. But the gap widens when we start looking at front shoulder room, which comes in at 58.2 inches for the Rogue and 56.6 for the Subaru, and gets even further apart when we look at the dimensions of the rear seat. Here, passengers in the Rogue will get an inch and a half more legroom, and just about as much more shoulder room too. While those numbers aren’t huge, as anyone who’s ever taken a cross country flight in economy class can attest, they matter.

The area where the Subaru clearly comes out on top is cargo space. While the difference is a whisker-close 9/10s of inch — seeing a pattern here? — with the seats up, once they’re folded, the Subaru has almost six and a half more cubic-feet of storage. That’s despite being shorter than its competitor, and plays into the idea that Subaru buyers are inclined to pack their rigs with spoils from REI’s annual member sale.

At this end of the day, this is a tie, as it’s a toss up to whether you want a little more passenger or storage space.

Even more than performance, infotainment tech is an area which is commanding more and more attention from consumers.

The speed of the Subaru’s standard 6.5-inch touchscreen impressed us, and we liked the fact that features like radio volume and climate controls were handled by familiar knobs. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also welcome in any cabin, as are the two USB ports.

While the screen was half an inch bigger in the Rogue, we found the infotainment system a little less polished than the Subaru’s, due largely to some slightly dated graphics. Is it the kind of thing you’re going to notice day to day? Probably not.

But in a direct comparison, it’s something worth noting, so even though both systems are intuitive and feature standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, we’re going to hand the edge to Subaru here.

Shop Subaru Forester Inventory

Safety

Safety is a understandable a huge factor for many consumers, and while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hasn’t published data on 2019 versions of either the Rogue or Forester, both models earned five-star overall safety ratings in 2018, and both are loaded with standard safety features.

The Forester comes standard with a pre-collision braking system, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control, which are all handy for drivers young and old. But while additional aids like blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive headlights are extra on the Subaru, they’re all standard on the Rogue.

Additionally, the Rogue has the option of a 360-degree camera, which uses a bevy of cameras to give drivers an aerial view of the vehicle — and it’s as cool as it useful. If you’re constantly finding yourself in congested parking lots or squeezing in to tight spaces, this tech is certain to lower your blood pressure.

Obviously, the best accident is the one that never happens. So from a safety standpoint, the Rogue’s impressive list of standard driver aids make it the clear winner.

Shop Nissan Rogue Inventory

Price and Value

Along with safety price is another point that’s key for buyers.

The Nissan Rogue starts at $24,920, but if you’re looking for all-wheel drive, that’ll bump the price up to $26,270, and opting for the hybrid drivetrain will send you even further north, to $27,600 — before adding all-wheel drive.

In comparison, the Subaru starts at $24,295, and as we’ve said, all-wheel drive is standard. For $26,695, or about the same price as the all-wheel drive Rogue, you can upgrade to the Forester Premium trim, which includes goodies like a panoramic moonroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, and 4G Wi-Fi capability.

Once again here, it’s close. But from a cost perspective, we’re going to have to hand it to the Subaru. The standard all-wheel drive makes it easier to swallow jumping up a trim level, and buyers will gain some attractive options. Unfortunately, while Subaru has teased a hybrid, it’s not an option yet, which might be a dealbreaker for some folks.

On paper, the Rogue and the Forester are so similar, we don’t think many buyers will make the choice based solely on price. How similar they are is actually a great indication of just how specific the crossover segment is, as countless hours of the consumer research went into each model’s design.

Shop Subaru Forester Inventory

Conclusion

Overall, while it's hardly a blowout, we're going to give our vote to the Subaru. At the end of the day, standard all-wheel drive, solid safety tech, great cargo room, and the brand's reputation for tackling tough weather tipped the scales in its favor.

The power of a test drive

Of course, you shouldn't buy any vehicle without a thorough test drive. So if you're deciding which one of these great vehicles best fits your needs, come and visit us at your local AutoNation dealership.


Image commposite of Nissan Rogue and Subaru Forester vehicles

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