The 5-passenger crossover market remains one of the most competitive automotive segments, with vehicles consistently among the best-sellers in America. For the 2021 model year, Nissan introduces an all-new Rogue — a heavy hitter in this group. Not only is Rogue one of the best-selling vehicles in America, it also represents almost a third of Nissan’s annual U.S. sales. Redesigning a vehicle this popular can be risky for an automaker; make a design misstep and sales could plummet. Built on a new platform with fresh styling, advanced safety features and a family friendly interior, the 2021 Nissan Rogue should easily continue as one of the most popular SUVs in America.
Nissan provided a 2021 Rogue SV AWD painted in an eye-catching Caspian Blue. The SV is the second-tier trim level of the Rogue, which includes the S, SV, SL and Platinum. Even though it resides at the lower end of the lineup, the SV comes well equipped with the latest advanced safety equipment and a range of comfort and convenience features — floormats were the only option on our test vehicle. Total MSRP listed at $30,220. Competitors to the Rogue are numerous including the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Ford Edge and Chevrolet Equinox.
Nissan moves away from the Rogue’s previously rounded styling aesthetic; the 2021 model features a more classic SUV design with a bold vertical grille, strong fender flares and a squared-off tailgate. Similar to the rest of Nissan’s vehicle lineup, Rogue still features the familiar V-Motion grille. Unique multi-level LED headlights give the compact crossover a unique look. LED running lights flow into the hood, while the main headlights are positioned below and flank the grille.
Slightly smaller than the outgoing model, the new Rogue is 1.5 inches shorter and slightly lower than its predecessor. Not only does this give the new crossover a stockier, stronger stance, it has improved overall drivability and maneuverability. Even With the front and back squared off, the roofline flows smoothly down from the windshield to the rear hatch. Nissan refers to this as a floating roof design.
The rear hatch has a chiseled look that matches the rest of the vehicle — the large ROGUE nameplate in large letters is a nice touch.
Under the Hood
The 2021 Nissan Rogue has a 2.5-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder engine that produces 181 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque — an increase of 11 horsepower and 6 lb-ft of torque versus the previous generation. As with most Nissan products in the U.S., the engine gets teamed with the Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission. We’re not big fans of CVTs; however, this one does a great job disguising itself as a regular automatic transmission.
According to the U.S.EPA, the 2021 Nissan Rogue SV AWD is rated at 25 mpg city / 32 mpg hwy / 28 mpg combined. During our drive in this new model the trip computer read 27 mpg, so the numbers seem accurate.
Nissan was able to improve interior space up front in the 2021 Rogue thanks to a new electronic shifter that takes less space. In addition to larger, centrally located cupholders, the interior has significant space beneath the shifter as well as a center console with “butterfly” doors allowing easier access. Multiple USB ports provide power and a wireless charger is available.
The infotainment system in the 2021 Nissan Rogue uses an 8.0-inch color display, which is standard in all trim levels of the Rogue. The screen is easy to read, and we appreciate the volume and tuning knobs as well as buttons below the screen for quick access to audio, communications and the main menu. Climate controls are separate from infotainment and thus readily accessible. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on all Rogue trims.
Nissan trims the front seats and doors in a high-quality cloth both attractive and comfortable, giving the small crossover a premium vibe. Like other Nissans, Rogue features Zero Gravity seats up front that offer abundant support and remain comfortable after long stints behind the wheel.
The rear seat of the 2021 Nissan Rogue possesses a surprising amount of legroom — even the middle seat does not feel cramped. Seats are the same Zero Gravity design, and they recline for additional comfort. Access to the rear seat has improved; the doors open almost 90 degrees, which is much wider than the previous generation.
Like the previous Rogue, the 2021 model offers a spacious cargo area that can be extended dramatically with the second row folded flat. Cubbies behind either wheel accommodate small items so they don’t roll around. The right cubby is specifically designed to snugly hold a gallon jug of milk (or other beverage) — based on an engineer’s experience spilling milk all over the cargo area of her previous-generation Rogue.
The rear hatch of the 2021 Nissan Rogue is larger for easier loading and unloading. The hatch can be opened via motion activation — a convenient feature when arms are full.
Nissan has equipped all trim levels of the new Rogue with the company’s Safety Shield 360. This suite of advanced safety features includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, rear automatic braking and high-beam headlight assist. Blind-spot intervention and traffic-sign recognition are available, as is Nissan’s Intelligent Around View monitor.
On the Road
The new Rogue is enjoyable to drive with adequate power and performance. It feels quick off the line, and the most pleasant surprise is how well the CVT works. With pseudo-shifts at correct times under hard acceleration, the CVT doesn’t have any of the common rubber-band feeling of most CVTs — it acts like an automatic transmission.
Overall the 2021 Nissan Rogue has a quiet ride — rough roads can be a bit noisy, but nothing we’d consider annoying. At higher freeway speeds the new Rogue feels solid and comfortable — not at all like an entry-level crossover. The steering is precise, so Rogue is actually enjoyable to drive on winding country roads.
Nissan’s advanced adaptive cruise control, ProPILOT Assist is standard equipment on the Rogue SV. The enhanced system employs next-generation camera and radar technology to provide smoother braking, improved vehicle detection and better steering assist. The system is easily activated and works well monitoring cars in front, as well as assisting with lane keeping without feeling too intrusive.
Nissan has done a great job with the 2021 Rogue in terms of design and performance. The new styling helps the crossover stand out in an extremely competitive market, and owners will enjoy the spacious, comfortable interior. Add in impressive performance, nice handling and good fuel economy and this Rogue is destined for continued success.