The small crossover category is heated with competition. Most manufacturers are putting their best foot forward in this segment, vying to keep and capture market share. Mitsubishi, as with most categories, is the underdog, working hard to keep a beach head in the tough North American market. Nissan, by contrast, is well-established here as a full-line maker with a good reputation. One of the best-selling vehicles in Nissan’s lineup and, indeed, in this small crossover segment, is the 2015 Nissan Rogue. The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander is also that make’s best-seller in this market.
The Rogue and Outlander share some common ground. Both were all-new in the 2013 model year, both have wowed audiences and critics with their excellence, and both are of similar size and configuration. For the shopper, it’s a tough decision. We’ll compare the two on several fronts: exterior looks, interior design and fit, family ergonomics, safety, and fuel economy.
Exterior Looks: 2015 Rogue vs 2015 Outlander
Although their basic shape is the same, since all crossovers in this category tend to start on the designer’s sketch pad as a box on wheels, the Nissan and Mitsubishi couldn’t be more different in overall style. The Rogue bases its looks on the overall design language of Nissan’s crossovers, with an aggressive nose, muscular fenders, and sleek European side view. The Outlander, on the other hand, is far more car-like in its look, with an understated front fascia and grille and boxier overall appearance. The Mitsubishi is a bit more traditional in its square-ish shape whereas the Nissan tends towards more curvature to de-emphasize the corners.
Two very different looks will mean very different appeal for some buyers versus others.
Interior Design & Fit: Rogue vs Outlander
Inside, the Rogue is definitely superior in fit, finish, and materials quality. Seating is excellent and there are no cheap plastics or low-rent items in the Rogue at all. The Outlander, however, strives for function over form and often pays the price in terms of lower-quality materials and less attention to detail on the finish.
Family Ergonomics: 2015 Nissan Rogue vs 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander
Where the two both shine is in ergonomics. For family use, both the Rogue and the Outlander are great vehicles. A third row option is available for both and those third rows are good for kids in safety seats or boosters. Cargo space is still available with the third row up and both allow the second and third rows to fold flat for maximum cargo room.
Door sills, door heights, and doors that open to near-perpendicular are to be had on both the Outlander and the Rogue, making entry and egress as easy as possible.
Safety & Fuel Economy: 2015 Rogue vs 2015 Outlander
The Rogue received four of five stars from the NHTSA and crash ratings of “Good” (the best available) from IIHS. The Outlander bested those scores from the NHTSA, receiving an overall five-star score, but received identical results of “Good” from the IIHS.
In fuel economy, the Rogue is the clear winner at 28 mpg combined with its four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission (the only powertrain option) in either front- or all-wheel drive. The Outlander, with a similar-sized four-cylinder, receives an EPA rating of 26 mpg in all-wheel drive (28 mpg in front-wheel drive). Both vehicles have about the same displacement and same power output in their four-cylinder configurations and both utilize a CVT in both FWD and AWD options. It should be noted that those who wish to have a more powerful passing and hill-climbing option can get a V6 engine for the Outlander, but not the Rogue.
Although the choice will often come down to style and preference, the Rogue is clearly more modern in its appeal than is the Outlander. The Mitsubishi, however, has the advantage of a generally lower price point at some trim levels and used vehicle buyers may be interested to know that the Outlander is redesigned for 2016, so the 2015 model can be expected to be heavily incentivized in the summer and fall of this year. All together, though, the Nissan Rogue is the clear winner in this matchup.
Both 2015 models of the Rogue and Outlander were driven in the Eastern Wyoming, Western Nebraska area during the winter months in a mix of town, city, highway and freeway driving. Although circumstances were not identical for each vehicle, they were very similar with the same driver, same general use, etc. For the author, this was the second time driving both vehicles since their generational debut in 2013.