Review: All-new 2021 Nissan Rogue carries the company forward
The Nissan Rogue has been completely revamped for 2021, with a new look and top-end trim level. It has been Nissan’s top-selling vehicle in North America for a few years, beating out the Altima amid declining sedan sales ... and the automaker is hinging hopes on it, going forward.
The Rogue carries on as the flagship vehicle for Nissan, in terms of sales figures, and with it goes the future of the struggling automaker. That’s a lot to carry on small shoulders, and the 2021 Rogue’s redesign holds much hope for Nissan. The good news is that this top-selling model is the best Rogue yet. The bad news? Well, it’s still behind the curve in technology and propulsion.
At a Glance
- Nissan is putting a lot of hopes on the little Rogue.
- Smaller, yet somehow bigger, new design is better-looking and roomier
- Versatility is still at the forefront of the Rogue’s toolbox
- Technology and powertrain designs are dated
Looking at the 2021 Rogue, the most obvious change is to the body style. The new Nissan is boxier with a more squared-off front end and lighting signatures that match the overall Nissan lineup. The "floating roof" that’s a part of every other Nissan vehicle’s design now is present as well. Dimensionally, the new Nissan Rogue is about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) shorter in length, but retains the same wheelbase and width as the previous-generation Rogue. The new Rogue is also shorter in height, by about the same 1.5 inches, allowing the vehicle to remain dimensionally low and wide for sporty visuals.
Inside, the 2021 Rogue is markedly improved from the previous-gen, dispensing with the cheap plastics and glossed-over material choices of the 2020 model for a much more upscale and contemporary look. Hard, piano black plastics are all but eradicated from the new Rogue’s design and in the newest top trim level, the Rogue Platinum, the quilted seating and ambiance become luxurious.
The back seats are still a little cramped, given the overall size of the Rogue, but usable for two adults with three across possible for short trips. Nissan’s wonderful Zero Gravity seating is found both in the front seats and at the second row outboard positions. Cargo space is also very good – the configurable shelving and separators made popular in the previous-generation Rogue a now a standard feature in the crossover.
For 2021, the Rogue features a full suite of Nissan Safety Shield advanced safety technologies as standard equipment. This includes forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a rear passenger safe exit system (preventing rear doors from opening into approaching traffic), and rear crash mitigation. That’s a hefty list of standard safety tech.
On the road, the 2021 Nissan Rogue is a pretty good drive for the segment. The luxury and upscale cleanliness of the interior is lost, however, as noise levels and street-level driver feedback remind one that this is still a low-cost compact vehicle and not a premium level drive. Highway noise is significant in the new Rogue, and the powertrain from the previous generation carries over with its dead fish continuously variable transmission (CVT) and not-very-interesting 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Further, Nissan has no hybrid or other electrified options for the Rogue, and there don’t seem to be indications from the company regarding plans along those lines.
On the dashboard is Nissan’s latest iteration of infotainment which, while functional and embedded with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, feels outdated. Menus and icons are blocky, and response times are often slow. Voice recognition is sluggish and often gets things wrong as well.
Fuel efficiency in the 2021 Rogue is pretty good for the class. The EPA rates the new Rogue at 35 mpg (6.7 l/100km) on the highway in its front-wheel drive configuration and about a point lower when all-wheel drive is equipped. Our real-world test achieved 33 mpg (7.1 l/100km) in this vehicle. Adjusting for our high altitude may add another point to that, giving our AWD test model a score on par with the EPA’s.
With all of this, the 2021 Nissan Rogue is very much improved over its previous renditions. This third-generation Rogue is a good match for the market it aims for. It’s not exciting or beautiful, or in any way an inspiration to the use of adjectives. It is, however, exceedingly practical and comfortable. Pricing starts at US$25,750 with the top-end Platinum trim level pushing into the $37,000 point quickly.
Product Page: 2021 Nissan Rogue