Review and photos by Dan Heyman and Brendan McAleer
Dan and I are rain gods. This is somewhat inconvenient.
I ain’t joking: in every single one of our past four or five comparison tests, as soon as we grab the keys, the heavens grumble, the clouds gather, and the heavy sheeting rain begins. If I were a member of the California Board of Resources, I would immediately ask the two of us to schedule a convertible shoot out in Los Angeles ASAP. We’d end the drought in about two hours.
However, while a rainy day isn’t convenient for photography and tends to snarl traffic up somewhat, it does provide a good backdrop for some real-world testing. What’s more, the two crossovers we have here today aren’t just about sunny days – these are the sort of vehicles that have more or less replaced the four-door sedan as the mainstay of Canadian families. They have to be good when Mr. Golden Sun refuses to come out, no matter how much Raffi begs him to.
The Nissan Rogue and the Honda CR-V were the top two finishers in Autos.ca’s seven-car crossover shootout, which exposed them to a traditional Eastern Canada winter landscape. Here on the soggy West Coast, Lord Poseidon and I are going to referee a rematch. Well, we won’t be able to separate ’em much on looks – the CR-V’s front lights appear better than the Rogue’s dotty LEDs, but neither one of us liked the Honda’s slightly hunchbacked three-quarter view.
Let’s let the styling critique run down the drain with the rest of the rainwater. Cue the Gene Kelly impersonations and let’s start slinging these two in the rain.
Ride, Performance, and Handling
Honda makes good driver’s cars—it’s been said many, many times both in the annals of this site and the car journalism catalogue as a whole. They put a focus on making good driver’s cars out of the lowliest hatchbacks, and we love them for that.
Still, I was surprised to find the same feelings of connectivity between driver and car as I did in the CR-V.
You sit a little higher in the CR-V than you do the Rogue, actually, but after that, the way the just-right-sized wheel falls into your hands and the way the gear lever protrudes from the centre console—Civic SiR style—is just right.
Then, as you begin to proceed (in either “D”, “S” or “L”; I was happy to find the CR-V’s CVT transmission has all three, where the Rogue just gets “D” and “L”), the fantastic linearity of the drive experience makes itself felt pretty quickly.
That nicely sized wheel I talked about? Well, it connects you to a wonderfully responsive steering rack. Indeed, some drivers may find it almost a little too lively—almost nervous—but I’ll take that over a mushy, overly assisted power steering setup any day of the week.