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2021 Subaru Forester vs Nissan Rogue

2021 Subaru Forester vs Nissan Rogue
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

2021 Forester vs Rogue - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

If 2021 is your year to buy a new vehicle, consider investing in an SUV. If you enjoy spending time outdoors and exploring off the beaten path, look into models like the 2021 Subaru Forester or Nissan Rogue that offer plenty of ground clearance and all-wheel drive - we suggest looking into both of them for 2021!

Both SUVs are capable family haulers, but one does the job better than the other. The 2021 Subaru Forester now features standard turn-swiveling headlights and automatic high beams but otherwise stays unchanged from its 2020 lineup. All-wheel drive is standard on every Subaru vehicle, providing added value. With 8.7 inches of ground clearance and AWD, the Forester can handle any off-road adventure you throw at it. Plus, this SUV has plenty of cargo space for storing camping supplies, groceries, golf bags, luggage - you name it!

The Forester does have some shortcomings, though nothing that should deter potential buyers. Its engine is underpowered for a vehicle in this segment, leading to slow acceleration when required to accelerate on the highway. Furthermore, its modest max towing capacity of 1,500 pounds reduces utility; industry average hovers around 3,500 pounds. As such, other mid-size SUVs provide more versatility.

Are the 2021 Nissan Rogue one of them? And why does it struggle to match up against the Forester? There's plenty to love about the Rogue; it has been fully redesigned for 2021 with a fresh face, more features, and upgrades in technology. Plus there's the Platinum trim level which comes equipped with digital instrument panel, wireless charging pad, quilted stitching on upgraded leather upholstery plus head-up display and heated rear outboard seats - perfect for winter driving!

Overall, you get a lot of features for the price. The Rogue boasts an enjoyable ride quality and cozy seats all around. The cargo area is large enough to store various sized items. What's best? All advanced driver aids work as expected - no annoying warnings!

The Rogue is not without its flaws, however. Like all vehicles, the Rogue has its share of drawbacks. Most notably, when driving at high speeds on the highway, wind noise can enter the cabin - louder than average for this segment. Furthermore, voice recognition system doesn't recognize natural speech patterns and gets confused when given commands; you will need to learn a set of instructions in order to use it effectively. Furthermore, less-than-spacious rear seats may leave taller adults wishing for more legroom in the rear seat

What vehicle is best for you? Let's compare their powertrains, driving characteristics and safety features. In our opinion, the 2021 Subaru Forester provides more value than Nissan Rogue and ultimately makes for a superior purchase.

The Powertrain

Let us start by reviewing the various powertrains used on each vehicle. A great powertrain can provide an exhilarating driving experience, while one with issues can make for a frustrating drive.

The 2021 Subaru Forester's only weakness is its engine. This 2.5-L 4-cylinder produces 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque, which are below par for this segment. Paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission (or CVT), power is then sent to all four wheels; unfortunately, Subaru does not offer one of their turbocharged XT engines as an option on this model; therefore, this is the only engine available.

Now, the 2021 Nissan Rogue provides something close to this performance. Powered by a 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine that produces 181 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque, the Rogue also comes standard with a CVT transmission but front-wheel drive is standard; AWD can be had on any of its four trim levels as an option.


What makes a vehicle enjoyable to drive? Drivability isn't simply how well the engine runs; rather, it's an all-encompassing term that describes how a car accelerates, brakes, handles and steers as well as how comfortable and quality its ride is. Plus it covers all other important aspects like tech gadgetry and ride comfort/quality too.

Let us now take a closer look at what makes the 2021 Subaru Forester such an enjoyable drive. While its engine may not be designed for speedy acceleration (a 0-60 mile per hour acceleration time of 9.3 seconds is below industry average for this segment), its CVT transmission does an admirable job of providing power evenly to all wheels. You won't feel any abrupt shifts from it and since it is CVT, fuel efficiency is increased over traditional automatic transmissions. Steering, handling and braking performance are all above-average even though the Forester lacks sportiness; it remains stable while giving plenty of feedback through the steering wheel.

8.7 inches of ground clearance make the Forester an impressive off-roader, while X Mode drive setting adds hill descent control and improved trail capability for added adventure. Your average crossover SUV doesn't offer such strong off-road capabilities.

The Forester offers superior ride comfort no matter the road surface you're driving on. Its front seats feature secure bolstering on both sides and bottoms that are padded for all-day comfort. Lumbar support and suspension tuning also enhance comfort levels, while road noise is minimal; however, its taller stature does let in a slight amount of wind noise when traveling down the highway.

The Forster's interior has been designed for ease of use. All controls are situated conveniently up front, making them easy to read and reach for the driver. An 8-inch touchscreen display offers crisp graphics and is user-friendly in regards to menu navigation. A dual-screen display makes using voice command systems with built-in navigation easy; plus you can switch over to smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto at any time. Plus both front and rear seats come equipped with multiple USB ports so nobody will go without charging their device!

For 2021 Nissan Rogue owners, there has been a major upgrade in how this vehicle drives. Steering is now heavier and feels less artificial, while being much more responsive and composed while turning corners. Unfortunately, the Rogue does not feel quite as sporty as some of its top rivals do. Furthermore, its powertrain is about as slow as the Forester's so you need to plan ahead for merges and passes on the highway.

The Rogue excels when it comes to comfort. Even the rear seats offer ample lumbar support, while the front seats boast plush cushioning and ample bolstering. The suspension has been tuned for comfort even with larger 19-inch wheels attached. Unfortunately, cabin noise levels increase with speed as more wind and road noise enters from all directions; plus the engine makes an unpleasant whining noise under moderate to heavy acceleration. Thankfully, tri-zone automatic climate control is available - a rarity in this segment.

The almost 90-degree door openings make entering and exiting the cabin a breeze. It feels spacious inside, as if it's larger than it actually is due to tall and wide windows that offer an expansive view around the vehicle - except for the rear which is obscured by thick roof pillars; blind spot monitoring can help with that issue though. Legroom in back can be tight while headrests tilt forward slightly which might prove uncomfortable for some drivers.

Technology is a standout feature on the Rogue. All trim levels except for the base come with four USB ports and smartphone app integration is standard across the board; wireless smartphone app integration is only available on Platinum level models. While touchscreen system is clear and user friendly, voice controls feel clunky and struggle to respond naturally to natural speech patterns.

Buying Tip:

To avoid overpaying on a new car, shop prices online first. Get up front pricing before you walk into a dealership. We recommend the following free services; Car Clearance Deals, NADAguides, CarsDirect & & Motortrend.
These free services will offer you the lowest prices and supply you with multiple competing price quotes. You will know the best price before you visit the dealer.


Safety should always be a top priority when purchasing any vehicle, and the 2021 Subaru Forester comes equipped with Subaru's EyeSight suite of driver aids. With this in mind, buyers can rest assured knowing their new Subaru is equipped for every situation. This package includes adaptive cruise control (which sets a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of your Forester), forward collision mitigation (which warns you if an impact is imminent and applies the brakes for you), lane departure warning (to warn you if your Forester starts straying over its intended lane), and lane keep assist which gently maneuvers the Forester back into its intended driving lane). Starting with Premium models, customers can get blind spot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert, plus rear automatic braking on Sport models and above.

The 2021 Nissan Rogue comes equipped with Nissan Safety Shield, a suite of driver aids including forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, rear passenger safe exit system and automatic braking.

Which Offers the Best Value?

The 2021 Nissan Rogue is a formidable contender, yet lacks some elegance. On the other hand, the 2021 Subaru Forester boasts more off-road capabilities and offers more space inside. Both vehicles look sleek, but the Forester's materials appear more durable.

Which Is Better?

These two rivals are both strong contenders but both limited by their engines. The 2021 Subaru Forester stands out due to its off-roading capabilities, boasting 8.7 inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive that make a difference when driving in slippery conditions. Ultimately, while the Rogue may be an excellent option, the Forester offers more excitement for drivers.

Used 2021 Subaru Forester: