2021 Subaru Forester vs Nissan Rogue
If 2021 is your year for buying a new vehicle, you might want to give some thought to purchasing a new SUV. And, if you enjoy spending time outdoors and traveling off of the beaten path, you should especially consider a SUV with a good amount of ground clearance and all-wheel drive. That's why we recommend that you look into the 2021 Subaru Forester and the 2021 Nissan Rogue.
Both of these SUVs are capable family haulers, but one clearly does the job a bit better than the other. The 2021 Subaru Forester now comes with standard turn-swiveling headlights and automatic high beams but remains mostly unchanged from the 2020 line-up. All-wheel drive comes equipped on every single trim level, which is just par for the course with any Subaru vehicle. Whichever trim level you go for, you will get loaded up on a bounty of standard tech and safety features, giving the Forester quite a lot of value. With 8.7 inches of ground clearance and that AWD, the Forester can easily handle an off-roading adventure. On top of all of that, this SUV has a lot of cargo space for storing all of your camping items, groceries, golf backs, luggage, you-name-it.
There are some pitfalls to the Forester, though they are nothing terribly off-putting. The engine is underpowered for a vehicle in this segment, making for poor acceleration when you need to get up to speed on the highway. Also, utility gets diminished by a modest max towing capacity of 1,500 pounds. Industry average hovers at around 3,500 pounds. Therefore, it can easily be said that other mid-size SUVs offer more utility.
But is the 2021 Nissan Rogue one of them? And why does it struggle to best the Forester? Well, there are a lot of things to enjoy about the Rogue. It has been fully redesigned for 2021, giving buyers a fresh-faced look, more additional features, and upgrades to the technology. There is also the new line-topping Platinum trim level, which comes equipped with a digital instrument panel, a wireless charging pad, quilted stitching on the upgraded leather upholstery, a head-up display, and heated rear outboard seats.
All in all, you get a lot of features for the price. The Rogue has a comfortable ride quality and nice, cozy seats all around. The cargo area is massive and designed to be versatile with how you can store various sized items. The best part is that the advanced driver aids are very easy to figure out and work just as they are supposed to - no annoying, intrusive warnings!
The Rogue is not all sunshine and rainbows though. Like any vehicle, it has its downfalls. The Rogue's biggest issue is how much wind noise it lets into the cabin when you take the vehicle up to speed on the highway. It can get louder than average for this segment. Also, the voice recognition system does not understand natural speech patterns and gets easily confused when you issue commands. You will need to learn a rigid set of prompts in order to use it. Add to that some less-than-spacious rear seats that will leave taller adults wishing they had more room for their legs.
So, which vehicle is right for you? Let's check out their powertrains, drivability factors, and safety features. Then we'll let you know why we think the 2021 Subaru Forester offers a better value than the Rogue and is the best purchase overall.
First things first. Let us go over the different powertrains equipped on each vehicle. A good powertrain can elicit an amazing driving experience while a poor one can make the driving experience uninspiring.
The 2021 Subaru Forester's only downfall is its engine. This 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine has a power output of 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque, which is below par for this segment. This engine comes paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (or CVT for short), which delivers power to all four wheels. Subaru does not give the Forester the option of having one of its turbocharged XT engines, so this is the only engine you can get.
Now, the 2021 Nissan Rogue delivers something kind of similar. The Rogue is powered by a 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine that produces a power output of 181 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. A CVT also comes with this vehicle, but front-wheel drive is standard. AWD is, however, optional on any of the Rogue's four trim levels.
What makes a vehicle a delight to drive? Drivability is not strictly related to how well the engine makes a vehicle run. Instead, it is an all-encompassing term that we use to describe how a vehicle accelerates, brakes, handles, steers, offers ride comfort and quality, and the functionality of its tech gadgetry.
That being said, let us take a look at what makes the 2021 Subaru Forester so darn drivable. While the engine is not optimized for a speedy performance (a 0-60 miles per hour acceleration time of 9.3 seconds is below industry average for this segment), the CVT does do a thorough job of delivering an equal and steady supply of power to all of the wheels. You will not feel any awkward, abrupt shifts from it, and since it is a CVT, it is oriented for better fuel efficiency than a traditional automatic transmission. Steering, handling, and braking are all above-average despite the Forester not being sport-oriented. The Forester remains planted while rounding through turns and gives a good amount of feedback through the steering wheel.
8.7 inches of ground clearance make the Forester a capable off-roader. The X Mode drive setting enhances this with hill descent control and improved trail capability. The average crossover SUV does not give you such strong off-roading capabilities.
Ride comfort is paramount in the Forester regardless of what type of road surface you are driving along. The front seats have secure bolstering on the sides and seat bottoms that are padded for all-day comfort. Lumbar support is also exemplary, as is the comfort delivered by the well-tuned suspension. Road noise is minimal, but the vehicle's taller stature does invite in a minute amount of wind noise while cruising along on the highway.
The Forster's interior is designed to be user-friendly. The controls up front are laid out in a way that is easy to read and reach for the driver. The optional 8-inch touchscreen display provides crisp, clear graphics and is easy to maneuver with regard to its menus. The dual-screen display is simple to utilize, and the voice command system works well enough with the built-in navigation system. Of course, you can switch over to smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto at your whim. The front and rear seats get multiple USB ports, so nobody will be left without the ability to charge their device.
Now for the 2021 Nissan Rogue. The new generation of the Rogue sees a huge improvement in how this vehicle drives. Steering now has more bulk to it, making it feel a lot less artificial. It is far more responsive, and the Rogue is able to remain composed while rounding through turns. It just does not feel as sporty as some of its top rivals. The downside here is the powertrain; it is about as slow as the Forester's, and so you will have to plan your merges and passes on the highway.
The Rogue nails it when it comes to comfort. Even the rear seats have a pleasant amount of lumbar support in the rear seats. Naturally, the front seats are plush with comfort and have an appropriate amount of bolstering. The suspension is tuned for comfort, even when the larger 19-inch wheels are equipped. The problem with the cabin itself is that a lot of wind and road noise make their way in the faster you go. The engine also makes a whining noise when put under moderate to heavy acceleration. At least tri-zone automatic climate control is available, which is a rarity for this segment.
The nearly 90-degree door openings make getting in and out of the cabin quite easy. The cabin feels cavernous, as if it is bigger than it really is. Given how tall and wide the windows are, you get a clear view around the vehicle... except for the rear, which is obstructed by thick roof pillars. Blind spot monitoring can aid with that issue though. Leg room is kind of tight in the rear, and the headrests tilt forward in a way that might be uncomfortable for some drivers.
Technology is a highlight on the Rogue. Every trim save for the base come with four USB ports, and smartphone app integration is standard across the board. Wireless smartphone app integration is available on the Platinum trim level. The touchscreen system is clear and easy to use, but the voice controls are clunky and struggle to respond to natural speech patterns.
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Safety is certainly an important factor to consider when buying a brand new vehicle. The 2021 Subaru Forester comes equipped with the Subaru's EyeSight suite of driver aids. This bundles together adaptive cruise control (which sets a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of the Forester), forward collision mitigation (which warns you if a frontal impact is about to happen and applies the brakes for you), lane departure warning (which warns you if the Forester starts to stray over the line), and lane keep assist (which will gently maneuver the Forester back into its intended driving lane). Starting on the Premium, you can get a blind spot monitoring system with a rear cross traffic alert. Rear automatic braking can come on the Sport and above.
The 2021 Nissan Rogue is similarly equipped with a bundle of driver aids known as the Nissan Safety Shield. It includes forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, a rear passenger safe exit system, and rear automatic braking.
Which Has the Best Value?
The 2021 Nissan Rogue is a more formidable contender than ever before, but it still lacks some finesse. The 2021 Subaru Forester has more off-roading capabilities and a more spacious, more versatile interior design. They are both chic vehicles, but the Forester's materials still look a bit more solid.
Which is Better?
These two rivals are both strong competitors but are both limited by their engines. The 2021 Subaru Forester's advantage comes in the form of its off-roading capabilities. The 8.7 inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive make a difference in how the vehicle handles in slick driving conditions. All in all, while the new Rogue is a great option, the Forester is the more adventurous of the two.