By on November 9, 2020

Nissan will begin encouraging dealerships to place examples of the Toyota RAV4 on their lots so customers will have the ability to compare the best-selling vehicle in America that isn’t a pickup truck against its own Rogue. While pitting your bread and butter against a model that is often better reviewed and outsells it by a margin of nearly 2-to-1 seems foolish, we think we see where Nissan is going with this plan.

Toyota’s RAV4 retails a bit higher than Nissan’s Rogue and its base LE trim is about as basic as it gets for the segment. We’re willing to bet that’s the model that will be used in comparisons. As both are fairly appliance-like automobiles to drive, this gives Nissan an opportunity to showcase the Rogue’s slight advantage in overall comfort and features without being eclipsed by a better-equipped RAV4. Meanwhile, customers finding themselves less interested in crossovers than they were upon arrival are free to browse the rest of the Nissan lot.

The brand is calling it the “Rogue Gone Rogue” campaign and had opted to tap the famously unlikable Brie Larson for the accompanying advertisements. Despite having won some of the most coveted awards Hollywood has to offer, Larson’s choice as a multi-year brand ambassador feels like a minor misstep. But Nissan made it clear that this campaign isn’t about playing things safe, it’s about drawing attention to the brand’s best sellers. Larson’s constant advocacy for gender and racial issues lends itself to that, according to Nissan’s Chief Marketing Officer Allyson Witherspoon.

“Brie embodies the Nissan spirit in her desire to challenge the status quo off-screen and her ability to bring thrill and excitement to on-screen roles,” she explained. “When we previously worked with Brie on the Sentra campaign, she brought a unique point of view to the creative during the production process, advocating for diversity and inclusivity, which aligns with her interest in supporting the work of the Nissan Foundation.”

Seems a bit heady for selling cars but that’s where the dealership comes into play. Having the RAV4 on site will probably send plenty of customers who might have been considering one over to the Nissan store first. Judy Wheeler, Nissan division vice president of sales and regional operations in the United States, told dealers as much last week.

“We know that when consumers check out the all-new Rogue side by side with the RAV4, they will be amazed by our standard safety, advanced technology, premium design … and, most of all, outstanding overall value,” she said.

Toyota said that it’s happy the RAV4 will have more opportunities to go against its rivals, noting that it’s the best-selling crossover in the U.S. for a good reason. But Nissan is going hard with its marketing campaign, sprucing up its lineup, and will be offering sizable incentives for returning customers.

“It’s really about the features that are standard for the value that we are offering,” Wheeler explained to Automotive News last week. “When you test drive our vehicle versus the major competitors, you’re going to end up purchasing this vehicle because it’s that much better.”

Nissan said that rented RAV4s will be made available for customers to test drive and compare with the Rogue during December. Roughly half of its 1,074 American dealerships are expected to join the program.

[Image: FotograFFF/Shutterstock]

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14 Comments on “Nissan Allowing Customers to Compare Toyota RAV4 at Dealerships...”

  • avatar
    DOHC 106

    So basically Nissan is more afraid of Toyota than Honda. Well, even though I think the new Sentra is nice looking and the Altima is at least leaner looking bring the Accord, Camry,and the K5 to the dealership. Go all out. Also bring the other full size truck brands so customers can compare. You might lose more sales.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      I think it makes sense for them to be more afraid of Toyota and to bring in base RAV4s for customers to test instead of the CR-V — which I would argue is nicer in its base format.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Rouge? (Sorry – It’s a pet peeve of mine ever since the days of the Star Wars Rogue Squadron game.)

  • avatar

    both have/had transmission issues, I would think the Rav would win out – 8 speed vs the dreaded CVT!

  • avatar

    “As both are fairly appliance-like automobiles to drive, this gives Nissan an opportunity to showcase the Rouge’s slight advantage in overall comfort and features without being eclipsed by a better-equipped RAV4.”

    This seems about right. I bet if you were blindfolded and couldn’t see the badges you wouldn’t be able to tell what you were driving when it comes to such CUVs. In this segment its all about price vs features – the more wiz bang tech it has the better.

    If I was selling these things I’d show how easy it is to pair & charge your phone, stream music and enter a nav destination as for most buyers these things are top priority.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    I applaud Nissan for taking a little risk. BTW-most buyers are not counting gears nor shifts when shopping for cars…this is another TTAC pet peeve….and that’s it.

    As long as they can find where the “D” is on the selector that’s what they are concerned about.

  • avatar

    Odd but related fact: Brie Larson as a kid played the sister of NHRA racer Erica Enders in a Disney movie.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Bold move – I love it.

    Remember, the RAV4 may be #1, but a lot of customers choose not to buy it.

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    Sounds like the beginning of a joke.
    2 weeks from now marketing guy calls dealership to find out how the his promotion is going. Dealership says it’s going great we’ve never been this busy. So far we have sold over 100 RAV4s.

    • 0 avatar

      If Toyota rented Rogues so that buyers could compare them to Rav4s, the comparison would be favorable to Toyota. Rentals tend to be the lowest trim, so it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.

      Now, if Nissan rents a Toyota, and a buyer wrecks it during a test-drive, who is responsible? Does the Enterprise contract allow Nissan to loan the vehicle to anyone and everyone?

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    Anyone who buys a new Nissan today is really rolling the dice. While the cars themselves are not particularly bad, the fallout from Ghosn’s mismanagement could make for some unsatisfying warranty experiences.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    “What the Hell have you got to lose?!?

  • avatar

    Alright I’m biased, but why in the world would anybody buy one of those over a Rav4? Even if Nissan puts a lot of cash on the hood, you have to deal with sub-par reliability and poor resale down the road. Around my parts (sh!tty Cdn rust belt) anything half-decent with a Toyota badge commands a large premium and is sold within 24 hours. I always wonder what possesses people to buy Nissans, Hyundais and all the other junk….

  • avatar

    I like my Brie with vine and grapes. Who would name their kid after cheese :)

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