Rogue vs. Murano
Nissan North America, Inc.

So you're looking for a spacious SUV under $30,000 and you've found yourself at your Nissan dealer. There are two SUVs on the showroom floor that look promising, the Rogue and the Murano, but you're not sure which one you should buy. The Murano offers more features than the Rogue, but it also costs more.

Many people find themselves in your exact situation, looking at two different products from the same manufacturer and wondering whether it's worth it to upgrade to the more-premium model. There are a lot of factors to consider when you're making a decision like that, including price, comfort, performance, and build quality. We've taken all of those factors into account. Which Nissan should you buy? Continue reading to find out.

Pricing and Features: Rogue

The 2016 Nissan Rogue has a base price of $23,290, which is about $6,370 cheaper than the base price of the 2016 Nissan Murano ($29,660).

For the extra money, the Murano gives you more features, like a V6 engine and alloy wheels. The Rogue comes with a much less powerful four-cylinder engine and steel wheels with plastic covers. Other features that come standard in the Murano and not in the Rogue include push-button start and dual-zone automatic climate control.

However, you can get most of those features in the Rogue, except for the V6, by upgrading to the SV trim, which only costs $24,740. In fact, a top-of-the-line Rogue SL ($28,690) still costs less than a base Murano and comes with many features that the base Murano doesn't have, like a 360-degree parking camera, leather, navigation, a Bose audio system, heated front seats, a power driver's seat, and a power liftgate.

A fully loaded Rogue SL with every option, including all-wheel drive, a panoramic sunroof, blind spot monitoring, and automatic pre-collision braking, costs $32,230. A fully loaded Murano with all of those features costs $42,960.

Seat Comfort and Passenger Capacity: Rogue

Rogue vs. Murano
Nissan North America, Inc.

Both the Murano and Rogue have Nissan's NASA-inspired "Zero Gravity" seats. That sounds like marketing hype, but our analysis shows that the seats really are among the most comfortable in the SUV class.

Both the Murano and Rogue offer similar passenger dimensions. The Murano has slightly more passenger volume (108.1 cubic feet vs. 105.8) and it's slightly wider, which gives you more hip and shoulder room. The Rogue has more front-seat head and legroom. The Murano has a larger back seat, though the Rogue's back seat can slide back and forth, so you can adjust it for more second-row legroom. You can't do that in the Murano.

However, what puts the Rogue over the top is the availability of a third row. For $1,190 over the base price you can get a two-person third-row seat. It isn't very spacious, but there's enough room for two kids, or two adults for a short trip. The Murano is not available with a third row. The availability of seven-passenger seating in the Rogue makes it a more versatile vehicle, especially for families.

Cargo Space: Tie

The 2016 Nissan Rogue and the 2016 Nissan Murano have almost identical cargo space. The Rogue has 70 cubic feet overall to the Murano's 69.9. Cargo capacity behind the Rogue's second-row seat is 39.3 cubic feet, compared with 39.6 in the Murano.

The Rogue and Murano are both available with similar cargo features, including lots of bins and cupholders for storing items throughout the cabin and a power liftgate that makes accessing the rear hatch easier.

Both models have fold-flat second-row seats. The Rogue's slide forward and aft, which allows you to choose between more second-row legroom and more cargo space when you have backseat passengers. The Murano's second row is available with a motorized seatback that can be lowered with a lever and raised with the push of a button.

One nice feature the Rogue has that the Murano doesn't is the Divide-N-Hide system, which includes cargo shelves and hidden storage bins that help you organize your stuff. It's easier to use than the cargo hooks and nets in most rivals. However, it's not available if you order the third-row seat.

Interior Quality: Murano

While both SUVs earn high marks from the automotive press for their attractive, high-quality interiors, the Murano stands out. Its interior is so nice you'll wonder why you'd ever pay more for a luxury brand.

The Murano has sound-deadening material inserted throughout its body and an acoustic laminated windshield, so it's exceptionally quiet of the highway. You'll be able to carry on a conversation with your passengers without raising your voice. The high-end SL and Platinum models, though pricey, offer leather and wood trim that put the Murano on par with models from Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury brand. The Rogue's interior is also nice, but you'll find more hard plastic panels in it than you will in the Murano.

The one downside to the Murano's premium cabin is its corresponding premium price. The Murano will cost you an extra $6,370 over the Rogue, and that's not including options like leather and wood trim. You'll have to decide whether the upscale ambiance is worth the extra coin.

Interior Tech: Tie

Rogue vs. Murano
Nissan North America, Inc.

The tech features of the Rogue and the Murano are both anchored by the user-friendly NissanConnect infotainment system.

Standard features in both models include Bluetooth, a USB port, and satellite radio. The Murano also comes standard with a touch screen and smartphone app integration, which lets you control smartphone apps like Pandora through your dashboard. However, you'd expect it to come with more, given its $6,370 price premium over the Rogue. Available features in both models include the usual suspects, like a Bose sound system and navigation.

Those tech features may sound overwhelming, but, NissanConnect is an easy system to use. Frequently used controls like volume and radio tuning get their own separate knobs and buttons, and the touch screen has clear on-screen controls. You won't have to look away from the road as often as you do in rival SUVs, which have more complicated infotainment interfaces.

Fuel Economy: Rogue

The base 2016 Nissan Rogue earns an EPA-estimated 26/33 mpg city/highway, while the base Murano earns 21/28.

If you want the best fuel economy, the Rogue is without question the better choice. In fact, the Nissan Rogue is one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs on the market. However, keep in mind that the Rogue has 90 fewer horsepower than the Murano, so you pay for its superior performance at the pump with inferior performance when you need to pass other motorists on the highway. It's also worth noting that, although the Murano can't beat the fuel economy of the Rogue, it's actually quite fuel-efficient for a V6 SUV.

Performance: Murano

Rogue vs. Murano
Nissan North America, Inc.

The first thing you'll notice if you drive the Rogue and Murano back-to-back is the Rogue's lack of power. The Murano has a 260-horsepower V6 engine, while the Rogue has a 170-horsepower four-cylinder.

You'll feel the difference immediately on the highway, especially if you're carrying a lot of passengers and cargo. Passing, merging, and climbing hills all take a lot more time in the Rogue and require you to keep the accelerator floored. The Rogue doesn't just feel underpowered compared with the Murano, it feels underpowered compared with most compact SUV rivals, and unlike compact SUVs like the Subaru Forester, Ford Escape, and GMC Terrain, the Rogue isn't available with a more-powerful turbocharged or V6 engine.

In terms of handling, the Rogue and Murano both have very comfortable rides that make them excellent highway cruisers. The Murano is slightly more composed around corners, a fact reflected in its higher performance score. Both vehicles are poor choices if performance is a priority, but they'll be fine if comfort is your number one concern.

Safety: Tie

The 2016 Nissan Rogue and 2016 Nissan Murano both earned top scores in every crash test from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The Rogue's crash test scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are less impressive. It earned four out of five-star ratings in overall, frontal, and rollover crash tests and a five-star rating for side impacts. The 2016 Murano has not been fully tested by NHTSA, so crash tests cannot be directly compared. However, the 2015 Murano earned the same crash test ratings as the 2016 Rogue. The 2015 Murano is almost identical to the 2016 Murano, so it's likely the 2016 Murano will earn the same scores.

A number of advanced safety features are available in both the Rogue and Murano, including automatic pre-collision braking, blind spot monitoring, a 360-degree parking camera system, and lane departure warning. That's a competitive number of high-tech safety features for the class.

Reliability: Murano

On J.D. Power's five-point predicted reliability scale, a score of three represents average reliability compared with the rest of the class.

The 2016 Nissan Murano has a four out of five rating from J.D. Power, indicating that its reliability is predicted to be better than the reliability of most rivals. The 2016 Nissan Rogue has a 2.5 out of five score, meaning its predicted reliability is below average.

Overall Winner: Rogue

Rogue vs. Murano
Nissan North America, Inc.

The 2016 Nissan Rogue just squeaks by with a win, but as you can see, it was close. Many of the categories were tied up, and the Murano earned just as many wins as the Rogue.

The Murano has a lot to recommend it. It's a more upscale car than the Rogue, and it's better built, with nicer materials and higher reliability scores. It's also more fun to drive. However, the Rogue ties or beats the Murano in the practical categories that matter most to SUV shoppers: passenger capacity, cargo space, fuel economy, and price.

The Rogue vs. Murano debate is another example of a classic dilemma for many car buyers: Do I focus more on luxury or value? The Murano is clearly the more premium choice. However, the Rogue is a better deal for the money, and we figure most SUV buyers, especially families, will appreciate that in the long run.