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2018 Nissan Rogue vs. 2018 Toyota RAV4: Which Is Better?

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author photo by Eric Brandt August 2018
  • The 2018 Nissan Rogue and 2018 Toyota RAV4 are close competitors in the compact crossover segment.

  • Both SUVs have generous safety tech on every trim.

  • Pricing is very similar for these crossovers, making both of them good values.

The compact SUV segment has been rapidly growing in recent years. Two crossovers that have been a big part of that growth are the Nissan Rogue and the Toyota RAV4. Both have been in their current generations since the 2013 model year, but the RAV4 is getting a big update for 2019. That means you should be able to find some good deals as Toyota dealers clear out the 2018 RAV4 models to make way for the new ones.

Neither the Rogue nor the RAV4 are particularly exciting vehicles, but they have a lot to offer for families who prioritize safety, convenience and value. Let's take a look at what these two crossovers have in common, what's different and which one is right for you.

Exterior

The Toyota RAV4 and the Nissan Rogue don't really stand out in traffic, but they have designs that are different enough to set them apart. The Rogue wears the corporate face that's found on most Nissans, giving way to a nicely sculpted body. It's a little more aesthetically interesting than the RAV4, which has an angular front end and doesn't look bad, but doesn't make much of an effort to stand out.

The Rogue and the RAV4 both have trims in their model ranges that spice things up a little bit. New for 2018 is the RAV4 Adventure, which gives this crossover an off-road aesthetic with the addition of a black stripe on the hood, 18-inch black alloy wheels, roof rails and rocker panel guards. The Nissan Rogue offers the stylish Midnight Edition, which adds black exterior trim including 18-in black alloy wheels.

Interior

The Rogue and the RAV4 are both a little more interesting on the inside than they are on the outside. Both have stylish interiors with instrumentation that's easy to read and controls that are easy to use. The Nissan has the distinction of a flat-bottom steering wheel, giving it a little more of a sporty vibe from behind the wheel.

Interior dimensions are similar and both have generous room in front with room to spare in the back. Cargo space is similar as well, with the RAV4 having a little more room when the back seats are folded down.

Mechanicals

The Nissan Rogue and the Toyota RAV4 both come with one inline-four engine and a hybrid variant. Under the hood of the RAV4 lies a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that makes 176 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. The Nissan Rogue is powered by a very similar 2.5-liter engine that makes 170 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque.

There's a bigger difference in fuel economy than there is in performance between these two engines. In front-wheel-drive, non-hybrid variants, the Toyota returns 23 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, while the Nissan gets 26 mpg city/33 mpg hwy, which is a big enough difference that it costs much less to fuel in the long run.

The Rogue's fuel economy also beats the RAV4's when you compare the hybrids. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder RAV4 Hybrid returns 34 mpg city/30 mpg hwy, which is great for the city, but the highway mpg is no different from the non-hybrid model. The RAV4 hybrid's 2.0-liter 4-cylinder hybrid gets 33 mpg city/35 mpg hwy. That's 1 mpg behind the RAV4, but it beats it in highway fuel economy by a significant 5 mpg.

Both crossovers are available with all-wheel drive, which improves traction in inclement road conditions like rain, snow and mud. Optional AWD also gives these SUVs some mild off-road capability, but you can't get too adventurous with either of these crossovers.

Features and Technology

From the base trims all the way to the top, these crossovers come pretty well-appointed. Every 2018 Toyota RAV4 comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) safety tech. TSS-P includes lane-departure alert with steering assist, dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and automatic high beams. Similarly, every trim of the base Nissan Rogue comes standard with blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking and rear cross-traffic alert. For more safety tech, you can get the Nissan ProPilot Assist technology suite, which adds intelligent lane intervention, intelligent cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and blind spot monitoring.

A big difference in entertainment features between the RAV4 and the Rogue is the availability of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. These connectivity features are available in the Nissan Rogue, but not in the Toyota RAV4. If you rely on one of these for connectivity to your mobile device or if you want these features in your next car, then the Rogue might be more attractive to you than the RAV4.

Since both of these crossovers are about utility and versatility, they have a lot of convenience features that make them easier to live with. Both are available with a hands-free power lift gate that's great for when you have your hands full. They also both have clever features in their cargo areas to make them more versatile, like a cargo shelf in the Rogue and a cargo net hammock in the RAV4.

The interiors of both of these SUVs can get so nice that you'd be surprised they weren't from luxury brands. They're both available with leather seats that are heated in front, satellite navigation, premium audio and a power moonroof. They have so much customizability between the base trim and the top trim that you're sure to find one that has just the right level of luxury for you.

Pricing

Pricing is very similar between the Rogue and the RAV4 in both hybrid and non-hybrid variants. The RAV4 starts at $24,660 and the Rogue starts at $24,800. If you want a hybrid, the Rogue Hybrid is the more affordable option starting at $27,020, while the RAV4 Hybrid starts at $27,385.

When similarly equipped moving up through the two model ranges, the pricing continues to be similar. However, the Toyota has a higher price ceiling than the Rogue, with the luxurious RAV4 Platinum starting way up at $36,400, which is pricey for this segment. The highest trim of the Rogue is the SL, which starts at $31,180. The Rogue SL is comparable to the RAV4 Limited, which starts at $31,155.

Upgrading to AWD adds to the prices of both SUVs, but it's a slightly more affordable option on the Rogue than it is on the RAV4.

Conclusion

When you have two crossovers that are so neck-and-neck, it's hard to recommend one over the other. A lot of it comes down to personal preference. While pricing is similar, you should keep in mind the difference in fuel economy and how much those differences add up, with the Rogue being the more efficient vehicle for both the conventional and hybrid models.

If you prioritize connectivity technology like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, then you might be more interested in the Rogue. But if you want a lot of safety tech without breaking the bank, then the RAV4 has you covered with TSS-P standard on every trim. The best way to know which one is right for you is to shop around on Autotrader and test drive them for yourself.

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New 2018 Nissan Rogue SL
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MSRP $37,725
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New 2018 Nissan Rogue SL
New 2018 Nissan Rogue
MSRP $36,270
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New 2018 Nissan Rogue SL
New 2018 Nissan Rogue
MSRP $37,330
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New 2018 Nissan Rogue SL
New 2018 Nissan Rogue
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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 Toyota RAV4: Which Is Better? - Autotrader