2021 Nissan Rogue vs. 2021 Ford Escape: Compare Crossover SUVs

October 19, 2020

The 2021 Nissan Rogue and 2021 Ford Escape represent the newest versions of compact crossovers that are some of the most popular cars on the road. Both five-seat SUVs prioritize safety and value without skimping on the latest features or premium options. That makes either one of these best sellers a winner.

Redesigned for 2021, the Nissan Rogue comes with one powertrain in four trims and has a more refined ride with more premium aspirations than last year’s model. Redesigned for 2020, the Ford Escape comes in five trims and four powertrains, including a small turbo-3, a hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid. The difference in our TCC Ratings of a 6.4 out of 10 for the Rogue and a 7.0 out of 10 for the Escape mostly comes down to safety: The new Rogue might close the gap once crash testing is complete and we can assign it a safety rating. (Read more about how we rate cars.

Style and performance

2020 Ford Escape

2020 Ford Escape

2020 Ford Escape

2020 Ford Escape

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

Another place where the Escape outshines the Rogue is on that most subjective of things, style. The Escape has attractive car-like lines that resist the urge from the rest of the segment to slap on black cladding and big bold grilles as if it were descended from a truck; Ford reserves such rugged elements for the Bronco Sport. 

The Rogue gets a point for trying to look different in a segment that looks entirely too much alike, but the way the LED headlights are split off from the daytime running lights is more curious than compelling. Both crossovers tend toward a dull inside, but two-tone upholstery can brighten things and the Rogue’s metallic touch points complement a band of fake wood trim. The Escape leans more to the dark plastic side, but its dial gear shifter in the console is sturdier than the new joystick in the Rogue. 

2020 Ford Escape SEL FWD Gear Shift

2020 Ford Escape SEL FWD Gear Shift

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

The Escape offers several more ways to get around than the Rogue. Both come standard with front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive can be added for $1,500 in the Escape and $1,400 in the Rogue. All Rogues come with a 181-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-4 with a continuously variable automatic transmission built for comfort. Switch it to Sport mode for a bit more grunt and a bit more engine noise. All but the base model in front-wheel drive get an EPA-rated 26 mpg city, 34 highway, 29 combined.

The Escape has a powertrain for any fuel taste. The volume engine is a 180-hp 1.5-liter turbo-3 with an 8-speed automatic made to conserve fuel even though there’s a hybrid and plug-in hybrid Escape. It gets 27/33/30 mpg, which isn’t much better than the 2.5-liter Rogue. For more grunt, consider the 250-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 with standard all-wheel drive available on SEL and Titanium trims. 

For the best balance of efficiency and power, the Escape SE Sport and Titanium use a hybrid powertrain with a 200-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 with a CVT and a small battery pack that gets 44/37/41 mpg; the plug-in hybrid Escape is reported to get 37 miles of all-electric range, but we haven’t driven it yet. If you’re considering the hybrid and plug-in hybrid Escape, cross-shop it with the 2021 Toyota RAV4 hybrid and plug-in hybrid. 

Comfort and features

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue

2021 Ford Escape

2021 Ford Escape

2021 Ford Escape

2021 Ford Escape

The Rogue gains the advantage on interior space and standard features. Like the Escape, it can seat five and has about the same leg room just under 39 inches. But the Rogue fits more in back with 39.3 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats up compared to 37.5 cubic feet in the Escape. A two-tiered storage floor in the Rogue, as well as clever pockets in the rear corner, under the front console, and in door pockets with cup holders large enough to fit big-’n-wide water bottles, further extends the optimized packaging in the Rogue. 

The standard feature set on the Rogue justifies the $27,000 starting price over the Escape’s $26,000 mark. Both come with standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and active lane control, but the Rogue adds blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts and automatic rear braking. The Escape aced crash tests; we’re waiting to hear how the 2021 Rogue fares.  

In the cabin, the 2021 Nissan Rogue comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, whereas the Escape has a dinky 4.2-inch display screen. Step up to the Escape SE for the content on the base Rogue S, but it’ll also add heated front seats, keyless start, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. We’d recommend the Escape SE Sport Hybrid for just under $30,000 for the more efficient powertrain and additional features such as a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. 

If a hybrid doesn’t cut it, the Rogue SV is the best value at just over $28,000 with adaptive cruise control, wi-fi hotspot, four USB ports, a surround-view camera system and more. On the top Platinum trim, the Rogue comes with features not offered on the top Escape Titanium, such as wireless Apple CarPlay and heated rear seats. 

The bottom line? The 2021 Nissan Rogue is the better value for the content, but the Escape offers more variability when it comes to energy usage.


Summary

6.4
Expert Rating
The 2021 Nissan Rogue nudges its way upstream with a more refined ride and more standard features but the powertrain doesn’t take any steps forward.
7.0
Expert Rating
The 2021 Ford Escape is the softer side of the Blue Oval’s small crossover 1-2 combo.

Styling

6.0
Expert Rating
The 2021 Rogue isn’t daring when it comes to design, except for the tiered headlights.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The Escape’s great curb appeal is unexpected but also very welcome.
Read More

Performance

5.0
Expert Rating
The 2021 Rogue isn’t going anywhere fast but it gets there with more comfort and efficiency.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
There’s a long list of powertrain possibilities here, none of them are bad.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

7.0
Expert Rating
Smaller yet roomier thanks to smart packaging, the 2021 Rogue feels larger than it is.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The Escape is comfortable and spacious, but perhaps not for big bodies.
Read More

Safety

Comprehensive standard safety features help prevent a crash in the 2021 Rogue.
Read More
10
Expert Rating
Nailed it.
Read More

Features

9.0
Expert Rating
The Rogue SV trim hits the sweet spot for value and features.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
Skip the base trim and every Escape gets an 8.0-inch touchscreen and good gear.
Read More

Fuel Economy

5.0
Expert Rating
Without a hybrid powertrain, the most efficient Rogue gets 30 mpg combined.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
The Escape is good on gas, but hybrids are much better.
Read More

MSRP

from $25,650
from $24,885

Invoice

from $24,282
from $24,138

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

29 (Est)
30 (2020)

Engine

Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.5 L
Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-3, 1.5 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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