Nissan Rogue vs. Toyota RAV4 for 2021

Erin Riches-Wong | Jan 19, 2021

If you’re shopping for a small SUV, you’re hardly alone. Compact crossover SUVs have overtaken midsize sedans as the go-to vehicles for singles, couples, young families, empty nesters, and anyone else seeking that just-right blend of comfort, versatility, and fuel efficiency.

Collectively, Nissan and Toyota sold well over half a million Rogues and RAV4s in the United States last year. Most shoppers will consider one or both of these small SUVs during their search, so here’s a Nissan Rogue vs. Toyota RAV4 comparison to help you sort out their strengths and weaknesses in critical categories.

Price and Value

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

Redesigned for the 2021 model year, the Nissan Rogue ranges in price from $25,650 to $36,830, not including a $1,095 destination charge. Trim levels are S, SV, SL, and Platinum.

Every 2021 Nissan Rogue has a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. You’ll choose between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (AWD). For the moment, there’s no hybrid model, nor is there an option to upgrade to a turbocharged engine.

Save for the base S trim, Nissan Rogues come with NissanConnect connected services. Features include automatic collision notification, rapid access to roadside assistance, remote engine start capability, customizable vehicle status alerts, concierge services, and voice access to the NissanConnect app via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. All of this is complimentary for six months, and then you decide whether to subscribe. NissanConnect also provides an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, but the free 1GB trial lasts just 30 days.

Free scheduled maintenance is not available for the 2021 Rogue. Instead, Nissan offers pre-paid maintenance plans for purchase.

Prices for the 2021 Toyota RAV4 span from $26,050 to $41,425, not including a $1,175 destination charge. This larger price range reflects a more diverse lineup.

The standard Toyota RAV4 has a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and offers a choice of front-wheel drive or AWD. But there’s also the RAV4 Hybrid with a gas-electric hybrid powertrain and standard AWD and, new for 2021, the Toyota RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). The Prime is the priciest RAV4, but it qualifies for the electric vehicle federal tax credit (up to $7,500). And depending on where you live, additional state EV rebates may be available.

Trim levels vary according to which powertrain you select. The list includes LE, SE, XLE, XLE Premium, XSE, Limited, Adventure, and TRD Off-Road. 

Toyota offers two tiers of connected services on the RAV4. Benefits are similar to what you get with NissanConnect. All trims come with a year of Safety Connect, including automatic collision notification, an emergency assistance button, and speedy access to roadside assistance. You also get a complimentary 3-month, 2GB subscription for in-car Wi-Fi.

Higher trim levels add a year of free concierge services (Destination Assist) and Remote Connect, which allows you to start or lock your RAV4 from your smartphone. With the RAV4 Prime, you can also monitor and schedule vehicle charging. A 10-year Service Connect plan is also free on higher trim levels, which helps you stay on top of vehicle maintenance.

Scheduled maintenance is on the house for the first two years or 25,000 miles that you own your 2021 Toyota RAV4.

Advantage: Toyota RAV4

Reliability and Quality

2021 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

2021 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

Nissan’s previous-generation Rogue did not rank among the top three compact SUVs in the J.D. Power 2020 Vehicle Dependability Study or the 2020 Initial Quality Study. It comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 3 years or 36,000 miles

The Toyota RAV4 ranked third among compact SUVs in the 2020 Vehicle Dependability Study but did not place in the top three in the 2020 Initial Quality Study. The RAV4 comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Hybrid system warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles
  • Hybrid battery warranty: 10 years or 150,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 2 years or 25,000 miles

Advantage: None. The RAV4 ranks higher in quality, but the Rogue offers more breakdown protection with a longer roadside assistance plan.

Performance and Efficiency

2021 Nissan Rogue dashboard

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

Standard on every 2021 Nissan Rogue is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that generates 181 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. It drives the Rogue’s front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). 

The EPA estimates that a base Rogue S will get 30 mpg in combined driving with this setup, while the slightly heavier SV, SL, and Platinum are rated 29 mpg. With the $1,400 optional AWD system, combined fuel economy drops to 29 mpg on the S and 28 mpg on other Rogues. 

Standard power in the 2021 Toyota RAV4 comes by way of a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine in the 2021 RAV4. It’s rated at 203 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission directs power to the front wheels. With this setup, the EPA rates the RAV4 at 30 mpg in combined driving. With the optional $1,400 AWD system, combined EPA fuel economy ranges from 28-30 mpg, depending on which trim level you select.

If you choose the 2021 RAV4 Hybrid, your small SUV will come with a 176-hp version of the 2.5-liter engine supported by a pair of electric motors and a battery pack. The total system output is 219 hp. Instead of a regular automatic transmission, the hybrid RAV4 uses a CVT. Fuel economy is impressive, with an EPA rating of 40 mpg in combined driving.

Finally, there’s the Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. The PHEV RAV4 also uses a version of the 2.5-liter engine, but it has a bigger battery pack than the standard hybrid. As a result, it can supply 42 miles of electric driving range before switching to gas-electric hybrid operation. The total system output is a heady 302 hp. In hybrid mode, it’s EPA-rated at 38 mpg in combined driving.

Both of the hybrid Toyota RAV4 models are AWD, but it’s not AWD in the conventional sense: There’s no physical driveshaft running to their rear axles. Instead, a separate rear-drive electric motor provides torque to the rear wheels when extra traction is needed.

Buyers seeking more adventuring capability will want to look at the non-hybrid RAV4 Adventure and TRD Off-Road versions. These trims have a more advanced AWD system that uses torque vectoring to control how much engine torque is going to individual wheels.

Advantage: Toyota RAV4

Safety and Driving Assistance

2021 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

2021 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

Every 2021 Nissan Rogue comes with Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 suite of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). With Safety Shield 360, you get lane departure, blind-spot, and rear cross-traffic warning systems. There’s also automatic high-beam headlight control, automatic rear emergency braking, and Intelligent Driver Alertness, a driver attention system that triggers a warning chime if it senses that you’re driving erratically.

From the SV trim level and up, the Nissan Rogue comes with lane-centering assistance (Intelligent Lane Intervention), blind-spot intervention, and Intelligent Trace Control, which corrects your steering as needed around challenging turns and cloverleaf ramps.

Nissan’s ProPilot Assist is also standard on the Rogue SV. It’s a Level 2 version of ADAS that combines adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability (it allows a 30-second delay in traffic before deactivating) and lane-centering assistance. Higher trims offer an upgraded version of ProPilot Assist that automatically slows your Rogue for curves, exits, and highway interchanges based on map information and GPS coordinates. Both versions of ProPilot Assist require drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times.

Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has published crash test ratings for the 2021 Nissan Rogue.

The 2021 RAV4 provides similar advanced driving aids via Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which is standard across the board. One key difference is the absence of automatic rear braking on the Toyota. Also, if you select the base RAV4 LE, you’ll have to pay extra to get a blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning system. It’s standard on all other Toyota RAV4s. 

Like the Rogue’s ProPilot Assist, the RAV4’s Safety Sense 2.0 provides Level 2 driving assistance when you use the adaptive cruise control combined with the lane-centering assistance system. But, as on the Nissan, your hands must stay on the steering wheel.

The RAV4 earned an overall 5-star rating in federal crash testing, but the NHTSA hasn’t published ratings for the Toyota RAV4 Prime. The IIHS rates the Toyota RAV4 a Top Safety Pick in 2020, including the Prime.

The Nissan brand performed significantly better than Toyota in the 2020 J.D. Power U.S. Tech Experience Study.

Advantage: Nissan Rogue

Infotainment and Technology

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

Most versions of the 2021 Nissan Rogue have an 8-inch touchscreen display, along with standard Bluetooth with text messaging support, SiriusXM satellite radio (with a 3-month trial subscription), Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Nissan also includes throwbacks like a CD player and an auxiliary input jack.

A majority of shoppers will want to step up to at least the Rogue SV, which also comes with Nissan Connect services and provides two Type-A USB ports and two USB-C ports (the Rogue S has one of each). The SV trim also adds two extra audio speakers for a total of six.

Higher trims are available with a 9-inch touchscreen display, wireless Apple CarPlay, a door-to-door navigation system that provides directions via smartphone app if you need to walk the last part of your journey, SiriusXM traffic data, one-shot voice recognition technology, and an upgraded Bose audio system. A wireless smartphone charging pad, head-up display, and surround-view parking camera are also available.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 features a standard 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The base LE trim has only a single USB port (all other RAV4s have five ports) but has two more stereo speakers than the Rogue S’s basic four-speaker setup. Bluetooth, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa compatibility are all standard across the board. You also get the complimentary 1-year trial to Toyota’s Safety Connect and three months of free Wi-Fi. 

A larger 8-inch touchscreen display is available on most trim levels. Other upgrades include expanded connected services (Service Connect, Remote Connect, Destination Assist), wireless smartphone charging, a dynamic navigation system with natural voice recognition, an 11-speaker JBL premium sound system, and a surround-view camera.

Advantage: Nissan Rogue

Comfort and Utility

2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD

2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD

Cloth upholstery is standard in lower-trim versions of the 2021 Rogue. The base S offers only manual air-conditioning but includes rear-seat air vents. 

Stepping up to the Nissan Rogue SV provides an 8-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, and smart key access that allows the remote to stay in your pocket. The optional SV Premium Package adds amenities like a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, leatherette upholstery, and rear side-window sunshades (a rare feature in this class). 

Higher-trim Rogues provide the luxury of triple-zone climate control (not offered on the Toyota), along with leather upholstery and memory for the driver’s seat and mirror settings. The Rogue Platinum comes with premium leather upholstery.

The 2021 Nissan Rogue offers 36.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind its 60/40-split rear seat, and with SL trim and higher, the rear seatbacks have remote folding capability. With the seats folded, the Rogue has a maximum cargo volume of 74.1 cu.-ft. (72.9 in Rogues with the available panoramic moonroof).

A traditional power liftgate is optional on the Rogue SV, while the SL and Platinum have a hands-free liftgate as standard.

The RAV4 is equipped similarly to the Rogue. The lower trims have cloth seats, while the higher trims get Toyota’s SofTex leatherette upholstery, which reportedly has a smaller environmental footprint than conventional leather.

Smart key access and an 8-way power driver’s seat are standard in most Toyota RAV4s, but as in the Nissan Rogue, the front passenger never gets more than a 4-way seat adjustment regardless of trim level. 

Dual-zone climate control is standard in all RAV4s, except the LE trim on the conventional gasoline model (the Hybrid LE has automatic climate control). You’ll need to step up to the XLE Premium to get rear-seat air vents, though. Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel are available starting at the XLE trim level, and Toyota equips some versions with heated rear seats and ventilated front seats. 

You’ll find 37.6 cu.-ft. of cargo space behind the RAV4’s 60/40-split folding rear seat. The RAV4 Hybrid’s battery pack does not reduce this amount, but the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid’s cargo area is smaller, measuring 33.5 cu.-ft. The maximum cargo capacity for all versions of the RAV4 is 69.8 cu.-ft.

Toyota offers a power liftgate for most 2021 RAV4s. Higher trims upgrade to a hands-free liftgate.

Advantage: Nissan Rogue

Learn More About the Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4

If you’d like to learn more about these small SUVs, be sure to read our expert reviews of the Toyota RAV4 and the Nissan Rogue. To find out how people like you rate vehicles in this segment, be sure to check out our ratings from verified vehicle owners.

Additionally, please keep in mind that while the information in this article was accurate and valid on January 19, 2021, it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker’s website or your local dealership.

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