Subaru Forester was all-new for the 2019 model year.
Nissan Rogue has been on sale in its current generation since 2014.
Forester comes standard with all-wheel drive; Rogue comes standard with front-wheel drive, while AWD is optional.
Two of the most widely considered compact SUVs for the coming year are bound to be the 2020 Subaru Forester and 2020 Nissan Rogue. As with the other competitors in this segment, both offer a good mix of space, efficiency and safety technology, leading many buyers to consider both in their search for a new compact SUV. Below we’ll compare these two vehicles in a number of categories to help prospective buyers determine which one may be better for them.
The Rogue and Forester both wear traditional crossover styling, but the Rogue’s design is overall a little more angular than that of the Forester, which has a slightly boxier, more upright profile. Up front, the Rogue wears an interpretation of Nissan’s trademark V-shaped grille, while the Forester has a more rectangular-shaped grille. When viewed from the side, both vehicles have an uptick in their rear window and around back incorporate a rear spoiler overhanging the rear glass as part of their bodywork. Neither vehicle takes much risk when it comes to design. To the untrained eye, it wouldn’t be out of the question to mistake one for the other. See the 2020 Nissan Rogue models for sale near you or See the 2020 Subaru Forester models for sale near you
As is the case with their exteriors, the Rogue and Forester both offer pretty conservative interior designs. Despite the recent trend for tablet-style infotainment screens perched at the top of the dashboard, both vehicles locate their infotainment displays in their center stack. The Forester features an additional display on top of the main display that shows relevant driving information.
As far as interior colors go, the Rogue keeps things pretty basic, offering black or beige, while the Forester makes things a little more interesting. Top-spec Touring models come with saddle-brown leather, while the Sport model, positioned in the middle of the trim-level hierarchy, comes with orange accents inside and out.
In terms of cargo volume, the Rogue offers slightly more space than the Forester behind its second row but the Forester has the advantage when the second rows are folded flat. The Forester has 35.7 cu ft with its second row in place and 73.1 cu ft with its second row folded, while the Rogue offers 42.6 cu ft behind its second row and 68.9 cu ft with the back seat folded.
Mechanicals and Capability
The Forester comes with an engine laid out in a "boxer" configuration. This is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that sends power to all four wheels via standard all-wheel drive.
2020 Subaru Forester Engine
- 2.5-liter 4-cylinder; 182 horsepower, 176 lb-ft of torque; 26 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/29 mpg combined
The 2020 Nissan Rogue engine is also paired to a CVT. Front-wheel drive is standard, while AWD is optional.
2020 Nissan Rogue
- 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder; 170 hp; FWD: 26 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/29 mpg combined; AWD: 25 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined
The Forester is rated to tow up to 1,500 pounds, while the Rogue is rated for just 1,102. For perspective, the new Toyota RAV4 is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds in the right configuration.
Either the Rogue or Forester can be optioned with a healthy array of cabin technology. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard on both vehicles. Optional luxuries include leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, premium audio, a power rear hatch, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and more.
In terms of capability, both vehicles are available with AWD but only the Forester offers different driving modes, not to mention hill descent control.
Both vehicles also offer a good mix of active safety technology. Standard on the Forester is automatic emergency braking, radar cruise control and lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist. Blind spot monitoring, automatic high beams and reverse automatic braking are optional. There’s also a clever feature that will alert you if the car in front of you at a red light or in traffic has started moving again, in case you’re not paying attention.
The Rogue comes standard with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind spot monitoring and automatic high beams. A 360-degree camera system, radar cruise control and lane centering are offered on upper trims. The Rogue ups the ante by offering Nissan’s clever ProPilot Assist feature, which combines the functionality of the car’s radar cruise control and lane tracing features to pilot the vehicle over short distances on the highway with minimal driver intervention.
Including destination fees, the 2020 Forester starts at $25,505 and tops out at a little under $36,000 for a loaded Touring model. The 2020 Nissan Rogue has a starting price of $26,245 in basic FWD form, while a fully-loaded SL model with AWD comes in at a little over $36,000. Keep in mind here that the Forester comes standard with AWD, while on the Rogue it’s a $1,350 option on all trim levels. Given that it’s an older design, your local Nissan dealer is likely to be offering rather appealing financial incentives on the Rogue, while the Forester’s relative newness means you’ll probably be paying closer to sticker.
The Rogue and Forester are both competitive — either one should appeal to buyers looking for a dependable, no-frills compact SUV. When it comes to design, the Rogue is getting a little old and its CVT can get a little annoying over long distances, especially when driving uphill. On the other hand, Nissan’s ProPilot Assist feature will be appealing to anyone who spends a lot of time in traffic. The company’s tendency to offer its vehicles with good financial incentives will likely make the Rogue appealing to more than a few buyers from a financial perspective.
That said, the Forester is a more modern vehicle. It offers standard AWD, greater fuel efficiency and a more up-to-date cabin. While it also uses a CVT, it isn’t as intrusive as the unit used in the Rogue and therefore won’t be as noticeable. Altogether, we prefer the 2020 Subaru Forester to the 2020 Nissan Rogue, but we look forward to a new Rogue debuting in the coming year or so that should make this comparison a lot more competitive. Find a Subaru Forester for sale or Find a Nissan Rogue for sale