2021 Honda CR-V vs Nissan Rogue
Creature comforts might seem like they're a dime a dozen these days, but both the 2021 Honda CR-V and the 2021 Nissan Rogue master these. Automakers who delve into crossovers have to ensure that their vehicles have a lot of selling power since this is a pretty popular segment. And selling power comes from a combination of power, comfort, and those all-important tech features.
The 2021 CR-V is one of the hottest selling small SUVs on the market, and CR-Vs have been dominating this segment for a while. Now into its fifth generation (which started in 2017), the CR-V offers a 1.5-L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that brilliantly combines power with fuel efficiency. While it is sensitive to your driving style, the CR-V can get about 29 mpg combined on its all-wheel drive variant and 30 mpg combined on the front-wheel version. For a crossover SUV, this is a respectable showing. Some real-world tests have even managed to net about 35 mpg combined on the CR-V, given that a light-footed driving style is used.
The CR-V has a spacious interior that comes with a versatile design. Need places to stash your tablet or purse? You've got 'em. Need to max out your cargo space as much as possible? You can get 39.2 cubic feet with the rear seats left upright and a max of 75.8 cubes when you simply fold them down. And, yes, they do go down pretty flat. This is some of the most cavernous cargo space you can find in this segment. Rear seat occupants will delight in just how much room they have for stretching out their legs.
The 2021 Nissan Rogue is priced to compete with the CR-V and offers a lengthy list of standard features for the cost. There is little wonder as to why it is Nissan's best-selling model. This year's line-up has been fully redesigned with a boxier exterior style and eye-catching LED signature lighting on the front end. The cabin looks markedly different, especially the one on the line-topping Platinum trim level. Nissan has definitely ditched their former cheap, hard plasticky materials in favor of more refined, higher quality versions. On top of all that, the ProPilot assist of driver aids now gets navigation-linked adaptive cruise control.
There are some drawbacks to the new Rogue, such as the excessive wind noise, less spacious rear seat, and a voice recognition system that does not comprehend natural speech patterns. It is not an industry leader, but the Nissan Rogue is a vast improvement now with its third generation. The changes made put the Rogue right up there near the CR-V. But does the CR-V still dominate? Let's go over these vehicles' powertrains, drivability factors, and safety features and ratings. Then we will let you know which one we think offers the best deal.
The 2021 Honda CR-V is powered by a 1.5-L 4-cylinder turbo engine that generates 190 hp. A continuously variable automatic transmission (or CVT for short) comes equipped and supplies power to the CR-V's front wheels (or, if you should opt for it, all four wheels). This is the only engine that is available on the CR-V, and it does an excellent job of balancing out fuel efficiency with power.
The 2021 Nissan Rogue offers slightly less power from its standard 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine. This engine is not turbocharged and generates 181 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. Like with the CR-V, a CVT comes equipped. Although front-wheel drive comes standard, all-wheel drive can be equipped on any trim level of your choice.
What makes a vehicle a pleasure (or a total nightmare) to enjoy? We have to factor in things like acceleration, braking performance, steering, handling capabilities, ride quality and comfort, and even just how user-friendly the tech controls are up front. In other words, drivability is an all-encompassing assessment of how well a vehicle performs, and it is something you need to consider as you go out for a test drive.
Let us start off by talking about the 2021 Honda CR-V's drivability. This small SUV is equipped with a turbo engine that is quicker to accelerate than most others in this segment. With all-wheel drive equipped, it takes the CR-V about 8.2 seconds to get from 0 to 60 miles per hour on the highway. This is not exactly an exciting rate of speed, but it is an impressive one nonetheless for a crossover of its ilk. And, while CVTs are usually more oriented toward fuel efficiency than power delivery, the CR-V's strikes a really remarkable balance between the two. Power delivery to the wheels remains constant.
Steering and handling are also highlights for the CR-V. The steering remains precise, and the body roll never becomes significant as the system manages to keep it under control. Drivers can go about their day actually feeling confident and inspired by how well their vehicle rounds through turns and responds to their inputs. On the whole, it is a satisfactory experience.
Ride quality and comfort are also areas where Honda excels, and the CR-V is no exception to this rule. Smooth and tranquil, the suspension is able to dispatch any bump incurred on the road surface before it can become a nuisance inside of the cabin. Even the 19-inch wheels on the line-topping Touring trim level are able to offer a smooth, uninterrupted ride quality - something that is hard to find when you opt for those bigger wheel sizes.
Inside, the cabin is nice and cushy. The front seats are padded for lateral and lumbar support, and the side bolsters secure you in nicely without feeling confining or stiff. The rear seats can recline back a little way, which enhances the comfort provided to rear seat passengers. With how much leg space is available back there, passengers can stretch their legs out all they want. The only real pitfall here is that the dual-zone automatic climate control system occasionally struggles to maintain the set temperature for the cabin.
Getting in and out of the CR-V is superbly easy thanks to the wide and tall door openings. The tilting and telescoping steering wheel offers the driver plenty of adjustability. You will have to take some time to learn the controls for the infotainment system. Some of its on-screen buttons are small and therefor hard to press down on while driving.
As far as tech features themselves go, you get a lot of standard gadgets. Smartphone app integration (via both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) comes equipped on every trim above the base LX. Two rear seat USB ports get added to the higher trim levels, and the built-in navigation system has easy-to-read graphics. The only downside to the system is that the voice controls have a hard time understanding natural speech patterns and require you to learn very precise prompts.
So, what about the 2021 Nissan Rogue? Just how competitive has it become this year? Well, the Rogue now offers more bulk to its steering, something which was in dire need of improvement. It no longer feels light and floaty. Although it is not that sporty, the handling does feel planted and rounds the vehicle through turns with ease. The powertrain is the real pitfall, getting the Rogue to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds - almost a full second behind the CR-V. You will need to plan your merging and passing on the highway, and even scooting about town feels underwhelming.
Nissan does offer up its super comfy zero gravity seats on the Rogue. Front and back, the seats are supportive, and the rear seats have two-position reclining. The well-tuned suspension deals with most road flaws, and even its optional 19-inch wheels are able to absorb a lot of impacts. Wind and road noise does become obvious at highway speeds though and can feel somewhat disruptive. One nice rarity is that tri-zone automatic climate control is available on the SL trim level and above.
The Rogue's cabin is cozy, but the outward view is obstructed by chunky roof pillars and narrow glass. Leg room is somewhat tight in the rear seats, and the headrests are angled forward in a way that might be uncomfortable for some front seat occupants. Overall, the Nissan Rogue is comfy but not as well-rounded as some of its top rivals.
The Rogue does make up for some shortcomings with how tech-savvy it is. There are four USB ports on all but the base trim, and smartphone app integration is standard across the line-up. Wireless smartphone app integration and a charging device come on the Platinum trim - something that is relatively new for autos in general. The infotainment interface is crisp, filled with bright graphics, and quick to respond to inputs. Unfortunately, it too has issues with voice controls being easily confused by natural speech patterns.
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Safety is, of course, paramount for automakers these days. More so than ever, they are bundling together advanced driver aids to help keep people safe. The 2021 Honda CR-V offers the Honda Sensing suite of driver aids. This bundles together forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, a warning for lane departure, braking for collision mitigation, lane keep assist, and auto-on/off high beams. The collision mitigation system for the front will issue a warning when it senses an upcoming crash and will apply the brakes if it does not think you will do so in time. The warning for lane departure will let you know if the vehicle is straying outside your line, then the system will guide the CR-V back into the intended lane. Adaptive cruise control sets a safe following distance between the CR-V and the vehicle in front of it and will try to maintain it. The only flaw with these is that collision warning tends to be hypervigilant, offering warnings when none are needed. Blind spot monitoring is available on the EX and above trims.
The 2021 Nissan Rogue comes equipped with the Nissan Safety Shield. This bundles together forward collision warning, a warning for lane departure, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert, a rear passenger safe exit system, and rear automatic braking. The second trim level up (the SV) adds adaptive cruise control, lane departure mitigation, and a surround-view camera system. Upgrading to the SL Premium package will add front and rear parking sensors, and the line-topping Platinum tacks on a head-up display for all your important driving data.
Which Has the Best Value?
While the Nissan Rogue offers a few more features for the price, not all of them work as expected. Unfortunately, the one thing Nissan should have changed is the 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine and its bland performance. A turbo option would likely spice things up a bit more and keep pace with the CR-V's 1.5-L turbo engine. That means even though the CR-V is not quite as techy, it gives you a better value on performance (and on fuel).
Which is Better?
The overall better buy is still the CR-V. Make no mistake, Nissan has upped the ante for 2021. However, the Rogue's lack of a powerful, refined engine is holding it back. Had Nissan made that one change, we might say the CR-V has finally been bested. Alas, that is just not the case, and the CR-V holds its own against the overhauled Rogue.