A Long-Time Favorite Gets a Makeover
The Rogue has been in Nissan’s stable for quite a few years, and is a perennial fan favorite CUV. It’s been in the top five best-selling vehicles in America, and makes up almost half of Nissan’s truck and SUV sales in total.
The outgoing Rogue debuted in 2014 and had a facelift in 2017, but it is essentially a six-year-old design. That has translated in a falloff in sales over the last two years. Nissan knew it was time for a top to bottom refresh and for 2021 that is exactly what they have done.
What’s new in the 2021 Rogue?
The 2021 Nissan Rogue is built on a new shorter platform and chassis—1.5 inch shorter on a 106.5-inch wheelbase, and it’s a bit lower. Only one engine and transmission choice are available. The legacy 2.5-liter direct-injection-inline-four’s horsepower (hp) is up 11 to 181 hp, and torque is up 6 lb.-ft. to 181 compared to last year. Power is directed through Nissan’s Xtronic CVT transmission and is available in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
The interior is completely redesigned with improved utility and comfort. Enhanced ProPILOT assist with Navi-Link is available, and Nissan Safety Shield 360 is standard. Apple CarPlay is now offered with either wired or wireless connectivity.
The exterior design is new with an evolution of Nissan’s V-motion design in the front grille, a floating roof and unique U-shape bodyside moldings.
The 2021 Nissan Rogue is available now in four trim levels–the S, SV, SL and the new Platinum grade. All can be configured with FWD or AWD. MSRP pricing starts at $25,650 for the S and tops out at $36,830 for the Platinum. Our evaluation vehicle was the top of the line Platinum FWD. AWD is available on all trims for an additional $1,400.
There is a lot to like about the new Rogue. Even though it is rated as a compact crossover utility vehicle, it looks and feels like a big SUV. Even in the S trim, it’s got all of the comfort and convenience that a family might need. On the higher trim levels, there is tri-Zone HVAC so that whoever’s in the passenger seat as well as the kids in the back can control their own climate.
Passenger safety is top priority for the grocery-getting, kid-hauling Rogue. While the crash safety ratings for this Rogue are not yet available, if history is any indication, Nissan will continue to ensure that the 2021 Rogue is a top safety pick. The Rogue builds on a safe body structure with an impressive set of active safety features that are now standard. This standard bundle of technology is called Safety Shield 360. It includes rear automatic braking, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, high-beam assist, and 10 standard airbags.
Driving safe means seeing where you are going, and the new Rogue now includes multi-level LED headlights, with available LED fog lights.
How Does It Drive?
The competitive space where the 2021 Nissan Rogue lives is a crowded one with the likes of the Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, VW Tiguan and Toyota RAV4. Nissan knows its competition, and it knows what its target market wants, and what they are willing to pay. With that in mind, Nissan has checked all of the boxes to continue the Rogue’s dominance in the CUV market.
It’s not a sports car, but it isn’t a snail either. It posts a respectable 0-60 time of 8.2 seconds, and has a very quiet interior at freeway speeds. In our evaluation vehicle, there wasn’t a bit of wind noise or road noise from its Dunlop 19-inch wheels. Aerodynamic design goes a long way at enhancing the quietness of the Rogue. Key aerodynamic features include “3D” tire deflectors in the lower front fascia, an active grille shutter to control air flow into the engine compartment, special A-pillar shaping, underbody covers to manage air flow under the vehicle and a unique “air curtain” that precisely directs air flow from the front to the sides of the Rogue.
Ride quality was very good, as the Rogue now has active control called Vehicle Motion Control. This, along with the active aerodynamic systems, improves fuel efficiency and the ride. The system makes continuous adjustments on the engine, transmission, vehicle dynamic control and steering to provide a consistent ride regardless of the road or terrain. There are different driving profiles available–Sport, Standard and Eco for FWD cars with AWD cars adding Off-road and Snow options. Even when driving on rough potholed urban streets, the Rogue’s front strut and multi-link rear suspension kept its cool, and never became harsh. It’s wasn’t quite luxury car quality, but it was very close.
The new Rogue does not offer a hybrid option, but given that the Rogue’s competitors are now offering hybrid options, if Nissan wants to compete in the green space, there may be that option in the future. They did in the recent past.
The 2021 Nissan Rogue just received its EPA fuel economy ratings. The FWD model is rated at 26 mpg city/34 highway/29 combined; the AWD model clocks in at 25 mpg city/32 highway/28 combined. The S models add one mpg across the board. Our testing of the FWD version yielded 28 mpg combined.
A Comfortable and Versatile Interior/Cargo Space
The Rogue’s interior design follows the styling cues from Nissan’s other recently redesigned vehicles, the Sentra and Altima. There are tons of storage cubbies, a huge center armrest storage bin and deep wide door bins. The dashboard pad is thicker, and the front glass now has acoustic damping properties. The center console sports a squat stylish electronic shifter that gives the console a floating look with extra storage underneath. The console has a wireless smartphone charger. There are up to three high-resolution displays on the Rogue–a 12.3 or 7.0-inch drivers instrument display, a 9.0-inch floating center display and a huge 10.8-inch head up color display (HUD). They are all easy to read even in the brightest sunlight. There are four total USB ports available front and rear, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. The lower trim Rogues have a pretty ordinary infotainment system, but a Bose system is available on higher trims.
Depending on the trim level, there are heated front and rear seats, with memory function for the driver. All 2021 Nissan Rogue trims use Nissan’s Zero Gravity seats that are designed to provide comfort regardless of how long the drive is. They are available in cloth, faux leather or genuine leather with the Platinum trim featuring semi-aniline hide with quilted stitching. One surprising omission was the lack of a height adjustment on the passenger seat. A very useful feature for most trims is the Intelligent Around View Monitor that uses cameras and acoustic sensors to help guide the driver into tight spots like my garage.
The rear seating is for three, and is very roomy with a split 60/40 seatback and a shoulder harness seat belt for the center passenger. The rear seat passengers have their own climate controls on higher trim levels. The rear doors themselves are extra-wide and open nearly 90 degrees, making it easier to get a child seat in or out, and also easing ingress and egress. The rear seat offers flexible and convenient child seat installation in all three seating positions – so adults or older children can sit on either side of a center-positioned child seat.
The rear cargo space is well done with a low threshold and a motion-controlled lift gate. Simply wag your foot under the bumper, and the car will open the lift gate for you. The rear storage area has configurable hidden storage below the deck, too. And there is a storage bin behind the right wheel well that is perfect for securing a big bottle of Jack or a gallon of milk. The cargo space for the Rogue is 39.3 cu. ft. with the rear seat up, and a respectable 74.1 cu. ft. with the rear seats folded down.
Autonomous Driving Features
The Rogue was the first Nissan to offer ProPILOT Assist, its Level 2 autonomous driving assistance system. ProPILOT Assist, which is available on the Rogue SL and standard on the Rogue Platinum, combines steering assist and adaptive cruise control to help control acceleration, braking and steering in both heavy traffic and on the open highway.
The system is one of the better ones on the market today, and for 2021, it is further enhanced with next generation radar and camera technology. This year ProPILOT Assist is enhanced by using the Rogue’s navigation map information from Google to adjust its speed on tight freeway curves, and off-ramps as well as being aware of the speed limits and adjusting the set speed to the posted speed limit. It has better steering assistance feel and hazard detection and avoidance when other vehicles cut into the lane. It isn’t hands-free driving, but it will start and stop automatically when in traffic congestion. The driver still needs to be in control at all times, but ProPILOT Assist is a great wingman always watching the road.
Basic warranty: Three years/36,000 miles
Powertrain warranty: Five years/60,000 miles
Roadside assistance: Five years/unlimited miles
S FWD – $25,650
SV FWD – $ 27,340
SL FWD – $32,000
Platinum FWD – $35,430
S AWD – $27,050
SV AWD – $28,740
SL AWD – $33,400
Platinum AWD – $36,830
SV Premium Package – $2,660
SL Premium Package – $1,320
Premium Paint w/ Two-Tone (Body/Roof)- $695
Premium Paint – $395
Two-Tone Paint (Body/Roof) – $350
LED Fog Lights – $325
Floor Mats and Cargo Area Protector Package – $385
Destination and Handling: $1095
Summing It Up
The Rogue is one of Nissan’s most important vehicles; it is almost half of the company’s truck and SUV sales and has consistently been in the top five best-selling vehicles in America.
For 2021, Nissan is looking to make the Rogue an even more attractive buy for those who are seeking a very safe, technologically advanced, well-equipped grocery getter and all-around vehicle for the practical price-conscious family.
The SUV/CUV vehicle is the 21st century station wagon, and the Rogue is looking to be the benchmark for that title. It’s a well thought out, high-quality design that delivers a best-in-class experience for a CUV at a price that has something for every pocketbook. Regardless if your family is just starting out or are empty-nesters, the 2021 Nissan Rogue should be on your consideration list.
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Story & photos by Gary Lieber.
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