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2018 Nissan Rogue vs. 2018 Mazda CX-5: Which Is Better?

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author photo by Eric Brandt October 2018
  • The 2018 Nissan Rogue and the 2018 Mazda CX-5 are compact crossovers with similar sizing and pricing.

  • Both SUVs come standard with front-wheel drive with available all-wheel drive.

  • Technology, styling and different powertrains set these competitive crossovers apart.

Compact crossovers are one of the fastest growing segments in the automotive world. Many drivers are ditching their sedans and hatchbacks for taller, more versatile SUVs. People love them for their ride height, interior space and respectable fuel economy. Two of the most competitive entries in this growing segment are the 2018 Mazda CX-5 and the 2018 Nissan Rogue.

The Rogue and the CX-5 are the best-selling models in their brands' respective lineups. With attractive styling, roomy, comfortable interiors and affordable pricing, it isn't hard to see why. If you're shopping for a compact crossover, these are two SUVs that should be on your shopping list. Let's take a look at what's similar, what's different and which is better between the Nissan Rogue and the Mazda CX-5.

Exterior

The Rogue and the CX-5 are both very modern-looking crossovers. They both wear the corporate face of their respective brands, and they wear them quite well. The Rogue looks sharp from every angle, and its chrome "Vmotion" grille makes it stand out. On the other hand, the CX-5 is more subtle, but very handsome, and it appears more premium.

The Rogue is about five inches longer than the CX-5, but all of the other exterior dimensions of these SUVs are very similar. The Rogue will occupy a little more space in the garage, but it's still pretty compact. Both are big enough to be versatile and family-friendly but small enough to be maneuverable.

Interior

The Nissan and the Mazda both have comfortable and attractive interiors. The interior of the CX-5 resembles that of a much more expensive luxury SUV. Its clean lines and nice materials make it one of the interior leaders in its class.

The interior of the Nissan Rogue is likewise beautiful, with a flat-bottom steering wheel to facilitate getting in and out. The Rogue used to be available with third-row seating, but every 2018 Rogue has only five seats like the CX-5.

The passenger space is distributed a little differently in these similarly sized crossovers. The Rogue has a little more legroom in the front seats, while the CX-5 has a little more back-seat legroom. The Rogue is still reasonably spacious in the back seats, but your passengers might appreciate the extra room in the back of the Mazda.

Mechanicals

If you're seeking thrilling performance in a compact crossover, you probably won't find what you're looking for in either of these SUVs. However, they both have enough guts to get you where you need to go.

The Rogue and the CX-5 both come with a naturally aspirated inline-four engine, but the Rogue has a hybrid option. The base engine in the Rogue is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that makes 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. That's a bit underpowered for this class, but it returns respectable fuel economy of 26 miles per gallon in city driving and 33 mpg on the highway. The hybrid brings fuel economy numbers up to 33 mpg city/35 mpg hwy. Surprisingly, the Rogue is one of just two crossovers in this segment available with a hybrid drivetrain.

The only engine available in the CX-5 is also a 2.5-liter inline four, but this one makes 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque, giving it a slight performance advantage over the Rogue. It's not quite as good on gas, however, returning 25 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.

Both of these crossovers come standard with front-wheel drive and are available with all-wheel drive. Fuel economy takes a small hit when upgrading to AWD for both, but it can be a small price to pay for the added traction in bad road conditions.

Infotainment

Every 2018 Nissan Rogue and Mazda CX-5 comes with a 7-inch infotainment system. For the Rogue, the screen is integrated into the center stack. This NissanConnect system can be a bit clunky and unintuitive, but its saving grace is standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The CX-5's Mazda Connect system is mounted on top of the dash like a tablet. It's much smoother and more user-friendly than NissanConnect, but it lacks Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which can be a big deal for anyone who relies on those systems for things like audio, navigation and phone integration.

Another feature that's available in the Rogue, but not in the CX-5 is a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Unlike Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, this isn't standard on the Rogue, but it's nice that it's an option and surprising that it isn't available in the Mazda.

If the absence of these connectivity features doesn't bother you, then Mazda Connect is the better system, but if you want seamless phone integration with the screen in your car, you're going to want the standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay that comes in the Rogue.

Safety

The Mazda CX-5 is a little more generous with standard safety technology than the Rogue. For 2018, every CX-5 comes standard with blind spot detection, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking and a rear cross-traffic monitor. All of these features are available on the Rogue, but the fact that they're standard on the CX-5 is a big plus.

Other safety features available on both cars include lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams. Unfortunately, it costs a little more to get a Rogue with all of these features, while Mazda makes them pretty affordable and available on all trims of the CX-5.

The Mazda has a safety advantage over the Nissan, and we'd recommend opting for Nissan's aforementioned "ProPilot" features to anyone shopping for a Rogue.

Pricing

Pricing is quite similar between the Mazda and the Nissan. The Rogue starts at $24,800, and the CX-5 is a little more affordable at $24,150. As you move up the model ranges, the Rogue continues to be a little pricier than the CX-5, with the high-end Rogue SL coming in at $31,180 and the range-topping CX-5 Grand Touring starting at $29,645. The most affordable hybrid Rogue you can get is the SV Hybrid model at $27,020, which is only a $1,000 premium over the regular Rogue SV.

Conclusion

There are some clear pros and cons to both SUVs, but in the end, we recommend the CX-5 over the Rogue. Its stronger performance, better infotainment system, standard safety tech and luxury carlike interior make it a winner. Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are nice, but standard driver-assistance features are better. The Nissan Rogue Hybrid is a good choice for drivers who want an especially fuel-efficient compact crossover, but overall, we prefer the Mazda CX-5.

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New 2018 Nissan Rogue SL
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New 2018 Nissan Rogue SL
New 2018 Nissan Rogue
MSRP $37,060
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New 2018 Nissan Rogue SL
New 2018 Nissan Rogue
MSRP $37,165
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New 2018 Nissan Rogue SL
New 2018 Nissan Rogue
MSRP $37,165
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Nissan Rogue vs. 2018 Mazda CX-5: Which Is Better? - Autotrader