The 2015 Nissan Rogue has become a hot seller in the United States over the past year, and the 2015 Mazda CX-5 remains near the top of Mazda’s best-selling vehicles. Both are highly rated affordable compact SUVs, but with very different strengths. Choosing the right one for you comes down to your preferred driving style and cargo needs.

The base Nissan Rogue engine has a 15-horsepower advantage over the base Mazda CX-5, but they’re tied to different transmissions. The base CX-5 is one of the few cars in this class that comes standard with a manual transmission, while the Rogue uses a CVT, which is operated like an automatic. The Mazda CX-5’s optional engine flips the power advantage to the CX-5 by delivering 14 more horsepower than the Rogue’s.

Mazda North American Operations

Looking inside, reviewers say both the Rogue and the CX-5 are made with soft-touch materials. However, the Rogue offers more standard features, like a rearview camera and Bluetooth, and reviewers add that its infotainment system is easier to use than the CX-5’s. The Rogue provides slightly more storage room behind the rear seat than the CX-5. It also has an available third row that will increase seating to seven, but reviewers say the third row space is tight. Finally, the Rogue has a cargo management system that allows the back seats to be folded into as many as 18 configurations to handle a range of cargo needs.

Despite similar engine power under the hoods, critics say the driving experiences are quite different. Test drivers say the Nissan Rogue’s suspension is “soft,” meaning you’ll hardly feel road imperfections like bumps and small potholes. When steering through curves, however, reviewers find the steering numb and unresponsive. The CX-5’s suspension, on the other hand, is tuned to deliver a more athletic driving experience, reviewers say, and it handles curves more like a sports car than a family hauler.

Nissan North America, Inc.

While the Mazda CX-5 and Nissan Rogue have nearly identical overall scores, their performance and interior scores are significantly different. The CX-5 earns a performance score of 8.3, while the Rogue's is much lower at 6.8. Interior scores are in favor of the Rogue, which earns an 8.4 to the CX-5’s 7.3. If you want a smooth-riding SUV with plenty of standard features and cargo space, go with the Rogue. For an SUV that’s all about performance, go with the CX-5.

Interested in purchasing or leasing a CX-5 or a Rogue? Check out the latest Mazda and Nissan deals and incentives. When you’re ready to buy, us the U.S. News Best Price Program for guaranteed savings on your new vehicle. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.