Driving lesson

SUV Comparison: 2022 Honda CR-V vs. Nissan Rogue

Competition is fiercest in the family crossover segment

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Corvette versus 911. Raptor versus TRX. Mercedes-AMG takes on BMW M. Anyone would think that the most vicious competition in the automotive field would be between performance-oriented machines, designed to fight on the tarmac or in the desert. But if you’re looking for the place where the struggle for sales really gets red in the teeth and claws, you have to look to the parking lot of an average grocery store.

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Midsize crossovers are the products that make or break a mainstream brand these days. Thanks to convergent evolution – the natural selection that makes a dolphin look like a shark – the cars in this segment are all quite similar. Four doors and a useful hatch. A style that features a big badge, but errs on the side of bland familiarity rather than boldness. A hint of ground clearance, an efficient engine and the all-wheel drive that Canadian customers usually demand.

Compare the specs of these midsize crossovers: Nissan Rogue vs Honda CR-V vs Toyota RAV4

To the aliens of the planet Omicron Persei 8, this Nissan and this Honda are basically the exact same vehicle. However, for those who actually spend their money on the biggest consumer purchase outside of a home, the differences are significant. Currently, the Toyota RAV4 is the king of the midsize crossover segment, but the Rogue and CR-V are locked in a battle for second place. Here’s how they compare to each other.

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First, the Rogue, Nissan’s bottom line saviour. Among Japan’s biggest automakers, Nissan has had to navigate some of the roughest waters lately, and the Rogue has been something of a lifeboat. His steady sales didn’t entirely bail out the company, but they did enable low-budget projects like the new Z.

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It’s a pretty compelling product. The 2022 model year sees a new 1.5L turbocharged three-cylinder engine that pushes peak power to 201 horsepower, a 20 horsepower increase over the old model. The 225 lb-ft of torque is more immediately apparent. Driven moderately on a daily basis, the Rogue’s new engine is considerably punchy.

But you’d never know this car was built by the same company that builds the Z. The Rogue’s mission brief eschews any sporty intent for a planted, comfortable feel. Rather, it rolls bigger than it is, which will likely appeal to buyers looking for a sense of security. Lively and nimble is great for a sports car, but a midsize crossover is more about taking piano lessons than cutting highs.

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By comparison, the Honda feels a little spindly and steamy on the highway. Its 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder matches the Rogue in terms of displacement, but it’s down on horsepower and torque: 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque. Accelerations are still acceptable, but the engine can get riled up when provoked. The CR-V is also a little more greedy than the Nissan, with 8.1 L/100 km in mixed use against 7.6 L/100 km for the Rogue.

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The CR-V’s ride quality isn’t much less comfortable than the Rogue’s, but the Nissan has plusher seats. Cornering is pretty much the same for both cars, with the Honda feeling a bit lighter on its feet.

In terms of interior layout and practicality, the Rogue is slightly more upscale, while the CR-V has more compartments and storage space. The Rogue has a slight disadvantage in rear cargo capacity with the seats up: 1,028 L versus 1,065 for the Honda. The Nissan is also a little more cramped for legroom and headroom in the back.

Overall though, it’s a millimeter more shoulder room here and a millimeter less hip room there. You can’t really separate these two by the numbers.

What really separates the Rogue from the CR-V is technology versus trust in the brand. Both of these vehicles come at a feature-packed price tag: $43,678 for the Touring-level CR-V and $42,698 for the Rogue Platinum. Let’s talk about the technology first.

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  1. SUV comparison: 2021 Honda CR-V vs 2021 Nissan Rogue

    SUV comparison: 2021 Honda CR-V vs 2021 Nissan Rogue

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    Hybrid SUV Comparison: 2021 Toyota RAV4 vs 2022 Hyundai Tucson

To see the generational gap between these two machines, just put the transmission in reverse. With Honda’s conventional R-shifter, the rear-view camera displays three different angles from a single relatively low-resolution camera. The Rogue’s shifter is unnecessarily goofy, but its camera screen is crisp, clear and displays a 360-degree view.

Similarly, Honda’s infotainment screen is smaller and harder to use. The size of automotive touchscreens has been out of whack for some time, but the Rogue’s 12.3-inch screen isn’t blatant, and it’s tuned high so the driver doesn’t unduly take their eyes off the road. . It looks more impressive than the Honda’s setup, but it’s also easier to live with.

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Anyone comparing interiors in an automall-like setting will walk from Honda dealership to Nissan dealership and be impressed. A test drive will almost certainly underline the advantage. But more than a few buyers will return to Honda. Why?

Because, while the Nissan is the better drive and offers smoother tech, the CR-V says Honda up front. That’s enough to give it a resale advantage, and perhaps put it on the pedestal in the buyer’s mind. The 20 hp power difference between these two engines is far less than customer expectations for reliability and longevity.

2022 Honda CR-V
2022 Honda CR-V Photo by Brendan McAleer

These expectations aren’t always based on data, as past Rogues have been largely as reliable as the CR-V. However, in this case, the Rogue has a new variable compression engine. The three-cylinder manages not only the boost pressure from the turbo, but also the pressure exerted by the pistons themselves in the combustion chamber. It’s Nissan’s own technology, but it’s necessarily complex.

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And that means that while the Rogue easily wins this comparison test on driving impressions, value and available technology, the CR-V isn’t quite ready to give up the win just yet. The CR-V is a known quantity, and these are certainly times when being able to make the safe choice feels like a luxury. Critically, the Rogue is the better choice. It’s completely understandable that more buyers are choosing the CR-V — for now.

The 2023 model year will bring a refresh to the CR-V as Honda tries to topple the Toyota RAV4 from its current crossover-selling throne. In this segment, to stand still for too long is to perish. Honda might be able to get away with relying on its reputation here, but it knows it has to act decisively. Because it’s not a grocery store parking lot. It is a battlefield.

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