2021 Nissan Rogue vs. 2021 Toyota RAV4: Compare Crossover SUVs

The redesigned 2021 Nissan Rogue fortifies its bones and freshens its skin inside and out to take on the best-selling non-truck in America, the 2021 Toyota RAV4

The RAV4 comes in seven trims, three powertrains, and a striking design. The Rogue is less edgy and more mainstream, with four trims and just one engine. 

Keeping count of these compact crossovers adds up to zero difference on our scale: both small SUVs earn a TCC Rating of 6.4. 

The similarities are much more than a rating. Both come with 2.5-liter inline-4 cylinder engines in front-wheel drive or available all-wheel drive; both seat five, ride on 17-inch wheels, and feature amenities such as standard smartphone compatibility and at least two USB ports; both come loaded with standard safety features. 

The difference is in the details.

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

Style and performance

When it comes to style, Toyota pushed hard to shed its dull, stodgy image with a more dynamic style that gets tweaked by trim levels. Chunkier fenders shape the TRD Off-Road and Adventure trims, while squared-off wheel arches and a tall and broad grille lend the look of the Tacoma pickup truck to the other trims. Inside both the RAV4 and the Rogue upgrade the materials from their predecessors and mount a touchscreen atop the dash. 

The Rogue’s style is less daring on the outside, with more attention paid inside. Up front, the split headlights flank the familiar U-shaped Nissan grille, and rounded wheel arches split by sculpted rocker panels add some flair. The inside features contrasting materials such as textured metallic elements on the console and door, as well as fake wood trim dividing soft-touch materials up top and hard plastics below. 

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime SE

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime SE

A new platform with a stiffer chassis and independent rear suspension keeps the Rogue more composed on the road than the outgoing model, and there’s less bounce from the rear and less road and engine noise. Built for comfort not for speed, the 2.5-liter inline-4 gets a modest boost to 181 horsepower, and the retuned CVT provides more responsiveness but also a 1 mpg increase in efficiency. In front-wheel drive, it returns a healthy EPA-rated 27 mpg city, 35 highway, 30 combined in the base S model. The more popular Rogue trims with all-wheel drive serve as a better comparison to the RAV4, however, with a 25/32/28 mpg rating. 

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

That is almost identical to the RAV4’s 25/33/28 mpg rating with all-wheel drive. But the RAV4 has so much more potential; it can go 42 miles without using any gas at all in the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid. If you are fatigued from plugging in all the things and don’t want it to extend to your car, the RAV4 Hybrid can get 40 mpg combined. Either hybrid comes standard with all-wheel drive, and higher output than the 203-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 paired to an 8-speed automatic in the gas-only model. They also come with a higher price tag, natch.

The all-wheel-drive systems vary in the RAV4, with the base models getting a simple version that can shuttle torque to the rear wheels, but the higher-trim TRD Off-Road, Adventure, and Limited trims add torque vectoring that can shift that rear torque to either rear wheel for better grip. 

The Hybrid uses a rear electric motor to power the rear wheels, and boosts total output to 219 hp. The RAV4 Prime is the beast of the bunch, using an 18.1-kwh battery to power a motor on either axle that, along with the 2.5-liter inline-4, makes 302 hp, making it the quickest and most powerful production RAV4 to date. It’s exceptional. The RAV4 Prime wins the performance and efficiency battle—but it also costs about $40,000, which is more than the Rogue in top Platinum trim. 

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

Comfort, safety, and features

The Rogue gets the edge on passenger and cargo space thanks to clever storage areas like a tiered cargo floor, deep storage pockets, and a hidden shelf under the center console. The Rogue is a bit shorter than its predecessor, yet offers up to 74.1 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats down, compared to 69 cubic feet in the RAV4. With the seats up, Rogue stores more than 39 cubic feet to the RAV4’s 37 cubes. The RAV4 Prime loses space to battery placement. With rear doors that open nearly 90 degrees, the Rogue is easier to get in and out of, but both offer about 37 inches of leg room. 

Federal and independent crash testing hasn’t been completed on either model, but they both do a good job of avoiding crashes with excellent standard safety equipment that includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, and automatic high beams. The RAV4 comes standard with adaptive cruise control, but the Rogue comes standard with blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert and automatic rear braking. Standard adaptive cruise control on the RAV4 gets the nod here.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

The Rogue comes with better standard equipment for a better price. The RAV4 starts at $27,225 and comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, power features, smartphone compatibility, and all the safety features listed above. The 2021 Rogue undercuts the RAV4 at $26,745 and comes with a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen. The Rogue comes with better features on each trim level, and offers better options, such as a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, quilted semi-aniline leather seats, wireless Apple CarPlay, and other upgrades. 

The 2021 Rogue gets the edge on content and price, but the RAV4’s efficient powertrain options and differentiated trim levels provide a compelling counter.

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