- Clever storage areas
- Platinum trim
- More potent powertrain
- Stronger presence
- Standard safety features
- Only one engine
- Platinum price?
- No hybrid
- Those headlights
Nissan nudges the Rogue upstream with a more refined ride, interior, and features but the powertrain doesn’t take any steps forward.
The redesigned 2021 Nissan Rogue compact crossover SUV prioritizes creature comforts and advanced technology to stand out among competitors such as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Ford Escape.
In addition to a new look, Nissan’s best-selling vehicle gets a more potent powertrain, more standard safety and driver assistance features, and clever packaging that opens up more interior space.
The 2021 Rogue will come in S, SV, and SL trims, and will be topped by a Platinum trim for the first time. Platinum formerly was a package. Nissan will announce the price when it goes on sale in fall 2020.
Style and performance
The new Rogue rides a little lower and is more than one inch shorter than the outgoing version for a stouter, beefier stance inspired by the Nissan Xmotion concept shown at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Like that concept, the hood flattens to the buffer V-shaped grille, which is broader and taller. Fortunately, the face isn’t all up in your grille with a massive...grille. The biggest change to the design are “multi-level” LED headlights. The headlights are split, with standard automatic high beams on top of LED low beams. Above and separated from that are LED daytime running lights that wrap around the top and side of the front bumper like hawkish eyebrows into the belt line.
That line down each side dips below the side mirrors to the door handles, then back up over the rear fenders into the rear taillights in a kind of U-shape that resembles the V-shaped grille up front. Familiar Nissan design cues include the blacked out rear pillars meant to evoke a floating roof. Wheel choices range from standard 17-inch alloys up to 19 inchers. More compelling are the door handles themselves, which come with buttons on all four doors to open the door without pressing the key fob or waiting for the driver to hit the power locks inside.
Aerodynamic elements blend into the design to improve efficiency, including active grille shutters, tire deflectors, underbody covers to push airflow down and out, and a rear spoiler. Fuel economy will be announced later in the year as well.
Nissan expects fuel economy to improve 1 to 2 mpg, thanks also in part to a reduction of about 100 pounds and improvements in the tuning of the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Those efficiencies are balanced by a more potent engine. The 2021 Rogue comes with a 2.5-liter inline-4 rated at 181 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, improvements of 11 hp and 6 lb-ft over the 2020 model. Front wheel drive is standard but most Rogues will come with all-wheel drive with five drive modes, adding off-road and snow to the standard, eco, and sport modes on front-drive Rogues.
Nissan says the new platform and chassis underpinning the 2021 Rogue will lead to a big difference in both handling and a quieter ride inside the cabin. Rigid mounts in the front suspension complement a stiffer rear body with an independent rear suspension that promises to soak up road imperfections while cruising and sharpen the Rogue’s handling..
We’ll report back once we get behind the wheel of the Rogue.
Comfort, safety, and features
Whatever tricks exist behind the wheel might pale in comparison to how Nissan has made the 2021 Rogue smaller yet roomier. It's 1.5 inches shorter and .2 inches lower than the outgoing model, yet cargo volume with the rear seats folded forward increases 4.1 cubic feet to 74.1 cubes total over the 2020 model. It’s the same 39.3 cubic feet behind the second row.
Some of that space is made up for with clever packaging. The gear shifter is now a more compact electronic shifter in the center console. The console splits into upper and lower levels, so purses, tablets, or other precious items can be stowed out of sight but conveniently close at hand.
The storage area under the elbow rest was also redesigned. It splits in half longwise, in what Nissan calls a “butterfly” opening, so all five occupants can access it. Up to four USB ports are available, with two Type-C and two Type-A, and large cupholders in the doors can accommodate 32-ounce bottles, according to Nissan.
No need for fishing keys out of pockets—keyless start is one of many standard convenience features. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility continue to be standard, and the 8.0-inch touchscreen can be upgraded to a 9.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment. A 7.0-inch instrument cluster display can be upgraded to a 12.3-inch digital display, and an available 10.8-inch head-up display rounds out all the displays. Wireless charging is available, as is wireless CarPlay. Sorry, Android users, you still need the USB umbilical cord.
Safety continues to be a priority in the Rogue, with Nissan’s suite of standard safety features included across the lineup. Like last year, it includes rear door alert, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic rear braking, which was not standard for 2020.
Adaptive cruise control is still optional. Nissan upgraded its navigation and driver assistance features in the 2021 Rogue. The available ProPilot Assist system uses GPS and map data so the system can plan for slowdowns around curves or near exits. Nissan says it's smoother. In stop-and-go traffic, the adaptive cruise control can stop for up to 30 seconds without any intervention needed for the driver; last year it was only three seconds.