The Mazda CX-5’s popularity is strong but trails its Japanese counterparts.
The Nissan Rogue has lost some momentum but the 2021 model year brings an all-new vehicle.
Despite a very rough start to 2020, Mazda CX-5 sales are steady while the Nissan Rogue is tanking in the US.
The compact SUV segment is turning into a full-on Battle Royale. Making it in this segment can and will ensure the survival of the fittest. Thing is that, with a handful of exceptions, most of the players in the segment are cookie-cutter versions of each other. Because of this, carmakers have been forced to try out different formulas in order to stand out. Some go with design, others opt for performance or efficiency and while these may apply here, Nissan, with its new 2021 Rogue, and Mazda with the CX-5, have turned their focus on proving a more upscale experience through presentation and content.
A few years ago, Mazda decided to take a more upmarket approach and, for the most part, has worked. The current CX-9 and CX-5 have benefitted from this decision decidedly earning some resounding success in their respective segments. The Mazda CX-5 has, since its introduction, delivered a unique design, both inside and out, and the most recent iterations have also brought with them more refinement and power.
Nissan comes into the 2021 model year with a prevailing desire to knock over the competition with value, utility, technology, and a renewed commitment to quality and design. From what we can tell, Nissan’s turned up the attention to detail and “poshness” especially onboard. For Nissan, the new Rogue comes at a time in its history where they absolutely need a hit in order to curb the massive declines in sales they’ve experienced over the last few years.
In this segment, as noted, there are more valiant and worthy options than in any other. In many cases, these units are the brand’s best-selling nameplates, or easily in the top two or three. SUVs such as the Chevrolet Equinox, Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Cherokee, Ford Escape, and a few others, are all vying for your attention. Or, at the very least, take it away from the Toyota RAV4.
Here, we’ll measure the new 2021 Nissan Rogue against the 2020 Mazda CX-5 to help you along your way.
What is the pricing and when will they be available?
Pricing for the all-new 2021 Nissan Rogue is not yet known but Nissan has said that it will be in showrooms sometime this fall. For Canada, our best guess is that the base S with FWD will be priced at close to $28,000 to start. The SV AWD will possibly be priced from $32,000 while the top-line Platinum should hover just below the $40,000 mark.
In the US, pricing for the base S trim should begin around $26,000. The mid-range SV will command a $1,500 jump in price while the SL should be priced roughly from $32,500. The new for 2021 top-line Platinum trim should start around $35,000. AWD will be an option across the board and should cost about $1,400.
The 2020 Mazda CX-5 is ready and waiting for you right now. Canadian pricing begins at $27,950 for the GX FWD version. The GS FWD starts at $30,950 while the GT AWD goes for $37,650. The turbocharged Signature versions, with all the trimmings, sees its priced set at $41,900.
In the US, the 2020 Mazda CX-5 Sport starts at $25,190. The Touring is priced from $26,830 while the Grand Touring retails for $30,310. For the latter three, AWD is a $1,400 option. The Grand Touring Reserve with AWD and turbocharged engine is $35,135 while the top-line Signature starts at $37,155.
Which Has The More Efficient Powertrains?
In Mazda’s bid to provide options for its customers, the CX-5 can be powered by the same engine that does duty in the much larger 3-row CX-9. The turbocharged 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine generates 250 horsepower and 320 lb.-ft. of torque (on 93-octane fuel, otherwise 227 and 310, respectively) making it one of the most powerful in the segment. The average fuel consumption is rated at roughly 9.5L/100km or 25 mpg.
The majority of CX-5s on the road are equipped with a naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine good for 187 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft. of torque. Standard in the US, available on the Canadian GS and GT trims, the 2.5-litre features cylinder deactivation for maximum efficiency. With FWD, the CX-5 averages 8.5L/100km or 28 mpg, and with AWD, the average fuel consumption changes to 9L/100km or 27 mpg. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard for all.
Nissan sticks to a single powertrain for all versions of the new 2021 Rogue. All will set up with a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine that produces 181 horsepower and 181 lb.-ft. of torque. These numbers represent an increase of 11 and 6 respectively over the 2020 model year Rogue. The Rogue’s sole transmission, a continuously variable automatic, is oddly nowhere in the press releases. In the US, AWD will optional on all trims while in Canada, we expect it will standard on all trims save for the base “S”.
Fuel economy numbers for the updated 2.5-litre in Rogue have not been shared by Nissan but we expect the combined average to hover around the 9L/100 km mark, or 27 mpg.
Which is better equipped?
In Canada, the 2020 Mazda CX-5 GX FWD is fitted with standard heated front seats, a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and numerous safety features such as Blind Spot Monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, collision mitigation braking and more.
In the US, the Sport lacks many features included in the Canadian GX such as heated front seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. To get these accessories, one has to upgrade to the Touring.
The top-line Signature models for both countries are loaded with an 8-inch screen, Nappa leather-trimmed heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, 360º View Monitor, genuine layered wood trim, and numerous more active safety features.
The most basic 2021 Nissan Rogue S trim will feature many of the same elements as the CX-5 Sport and GX. Nissan’s advantage is that it will make many features available only on higher trims, if at all, in its mid-range models. For example, rear heated seats are delivered with the Rogue SV, the middle trim, compared to the GT (in Canada) or Grand Touring Reserve (in the US). But this is only the tip of the iceberg as the Rogue will be fitted, depending on trim and options, with a 10.8-inch head-up display, a 12.3-inch digital cluster, a central display sized up to 9 inches, wireless charging and wireless Apple CarPlay integration.
What About Styling?
From the moment the Mazda CX-5 arrived for the 2013 model year, it quickly earned the title of one of the most, if not the most, stylistically attractive SUVs in the segment. Through a number of updates over the years, the CX-5 continues to position itself as a most upscale-looking vehicle and this applies but inside and out.
Mazda spent an enormous amount of time creating an environment that would not be out of place in a pricier vehicle. Obviously, the whole of the displays, materials, and interior design is all Mazda, and thus uniquely ergonomic and well thought out. Space for occupants is generous however trunk volume is limited to 857 litres, or 30.9 cu.ft.
We’ve had plenty of time to study all pictures of the 2021 Rogue provided by Nissan and continue to be less than enthralled with the SUV’s front end. The trendy split front lights have had the effect of prematurely aging the handful of vehicles that were styled in this manner. The Rogue’s rear quarters and side profile are all the contrary where they blend traditional SUV cues with elegant lines. Compared to the 2020 model, it is 1.5 inches shorter and 0.2 inches lower. A nice touch is that the rear doors now open a full 85 degrees.
As stated, Nissan’s seriously upped the ante where interior design, surfaces, and materials are concerned, at the very least by the looks of it. If you pay attention to the images, it’s important to note that vehicle used exclusively the top-line Platinum. And, if the interior pictures are enticing, read the previous sentence. It does look roomy, though. On that topic, interior dimensions for the new 2021 Rogue are unknown however the 2020 is rated at 1,112 litres or 39.3 cu.ft.
How important are these vehicles for their respective brands?
Both of these SUVs are critical models for their respective brands. For a while, Mazda’s volume came from the compact Mazda3 however that changed with the CX-5 as it has taken over as the top seller. All indications point to the fact that car sales will continue to decline and so the CX-5’s job is all the more important.
As it stands, Mazda is introducing new SUVs such as the CX-30, wedged between the decently-performing CX-3 and the CX-5. Time will tell if its presence will impact the CX-5.
In Nissan’s corner, for both the US and Canada, the 2021 Nissan Rogue is as close as any Nissan product will ever get to making or breaking the company in North America. Nissan’s in a tough spot and has been for a while. Even though they have products in most major segments, some new or all-new, sales have continued to drop dramatically in some instances. Vehicles like the Sentra, Altima, Murano, Kicks, Rogue Sport (Qashqai in Canada), and Pathfinder are missing their volume marks. In no uncertain terms, the 2021 Nissan Rogue has to be an unprecedented sales success.
Our Thoughts On The 2021 Nissan Rogue And 2020 Honda CR-V
The Mazda CX-5 is another vehicle that survived the 2019 sales decline trend. It, like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, saw its numbers increase, quite the opposite of what happened to the Nissan Rogue.
So far, in 2020, in the US, the 2020 Rogue has amassed 59,717 sales while the 2020 CX-5 stands at 52,571 – we know 2020 is not a typical year, in any regard. The gap is a far cry from what Nissan normally expected from their Rogue. Last year, 350,000 Rogues were delivered compared to just over 154,000 CX-5.
Now, we do look forward to driving and experiencing the new 2021 Rogue for ourselves. Our prospects are high given what we’ve seen and read and we do hope it fulfills our and Nissan’s expectations.