The 2021 Nissan Rogue is finally a competitive entry in this bustling crossover segment. While the last one sold well and made a good first impression, the more you drove it, the more disappointing it became. That’s no longer the case for 2021, as the Rogue gains a much improved chassis, extra refinement and a touch more power that amount to a crossover that’s considerably better to drive and therefore competitive.
Nissan also punches above its weight with interior design. It’s a modern and usable tech haven, assuming it’s equipped with all the available goodies. Nothing about the exterior design is revolutionary, but the new Rogue looks confident and worthy of its price tag. It successfully manages to look both premium and rugged at the same time. Available features like tri-zone climate control and the Divide N Hide cargo system aim to separate it from mainstays like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, but it’s likely its expansive array of standard driver assistance technologies that are bound to make the biggest difference. Not only are more standard on the Rogue than on most competitors, they are well executed systems (that goes for the sophisticated ProPilot Assist option, too). Altogether, the new Rogue doesn’t climb to the top of segment, especially since it doesn’t offer a more powerful engine upgrade or a hybrid option, but it’s much closer than before.
What’s new for 2021?
The Rogue is a totally new model for 2021. You can read all about what Nissan changed in our First Drive review.
What’s the Rogue interior and in-car technology like?
The best element of the new Rogue is its interior, which is right at the top of its class in both design and quality. A number of two-tone interior color combinations are offered, but even an all-black SV tester featured a weave-like pattern to the leatherette upholstery that nicely spruced things up. Even the open pore “wood” on the Platinum is convincing to the eye, if still fake. That top trim is also adorned with contrast stitching on the doors, dash and the seats, which are covered in semi-aniline leather and feature Nissan’s incredibly comfortable “Zero Gravity” seat design front and rear. There’s also a welcome amount of added driver seat power adjustability for 2021 that should be good news for taller drivers.
The updated dash and center console consist of a pleasing combination of digital screens and physical controls. An 8-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard, but the top Platinum trim gets an upsized 9-inch screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard with both screens, but the 9-inch screen comes with wireless Apple CarPlay. Lower grades get an analog instrument panel with a 7-inch display in the center (no complaints with either), but the Platinum trim comes with a fully-digital 12.3-inch panel that’s easy to read and moves through the various screens and menus quickly via steering wheel buttons. A large head-up display comes paired with the fully digital instrument panel, too. Other available features we like include a panoramic moonroof, tri-zone climate control and wireless phone charger.
How big is the Rogue?
The Rogue actually shrunk a bit for 2021, but it still measures up well versus other compact crossovers. Specifically, it’s 1.5 inches shorter in length and 0.2 inch lower in height. The old model was actually quite big for its segment, though, and thankfully, interior space and utility don’t suffer as a result. Quite the opposite. Rear seat legroom ticks up by half an inch, and the rear doors open wider (nearly 90 degrees) to make getting child seats in and out a simpler process (not to mention the children themselves). These upgrades add up to one of the more passenger-friendly back seats in the segment, one that measures up closely with the RAV4 and new Escape. The CR-V is still the overall winner in rear legroom. We found there is plenty of room for a rear-facing infant car seat and there is a LATCH anchor in the middle position (unlike the last Rogue), but the anchor points were not big enough to accommodate our Gracco car seat’s clips. As always, we’d recommend bringing along your own car seat on a test drive.
Maximum cargo capacity (second row dropped) is up to 74.1 cubic-feet, a number that just barely trails the Honda CR-V for class best. Space behind the raised second-row is reduced by a token amount to 31.6 cubic-feet, but that’s still more than most competitors, and only fell just short of the CR-V and RAV4 in our cargo capacity test. That was without the innovative and useful “Divide-N-Hide” cargo floor (pictured above left). Besides increasing cargo volume to 36.5 cubic-feet, it consists of two movable floor boards — keep them in for a flat floor; remove them for additional depth, or arrange them into a stacked formation to divide the cargo area into separate parts. A new milk gallon holder aft of the wheels is built into the cargo area floor, so now your gallon of milk, water or whatever won’t annihilate the rest of your groceries on the way back from the store.
What are the Rogue’s performance and fuel economy numbers?
Every version of the Rogue comes with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine. It produces 181 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, which is better than before, but still below average for the segment. A continuously variable transmission is the only transmission option. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional on every trim level of the Rogue.
In its most fuel-efficient form (front-wheel-drive S), the Rogue achieves 27 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined. All other front-wheel-drive trims drop 1 mpg in every category (26/34/29). An all-wheel-drive S is rated at 26/33/29, and the other trims (SV, SL, Platinum) are all rated at 25/32/28. All of these make the Rogue one of the most efficient in the segment.
What’s the Rogue like to drive?
The engine is a total bore, but it’s unobtrusive in operation, and the CVT reacts well to prodding from the responsive throttle. Even with more power than before, the Rogue is still on the slow side for the segment. A new platform and steering system have woken up the chassis for better handling and improved the ride compared to the previous Rogue. Quite simply, it is substantially better to drive. That said, the steering still has zero feel and the handling in general is mediocre. It’s perfectly acceptable, but if you want to be engaged as a driver, many competitors remain a better choice, including the RAV4, CR-V and Mazda CX-5
Nissan has tuned the Rogue for comfort, and it shows. This crossover rides admirably over bumps, highway frost heaves and potholes. It’s not luxurious, but it’s up to par for the segment. And even though engine noise is down, wind noise is still annoying at highway speeds. Where the previous Rogue was a noticeably poor driver, this new Rogue is competent and melts into the background without wowing or annoying us.
What more can I read about the Rogue?
Our first drive review of the redesigned 2021 Nissan Rogue. We go over the engineering of the new model, what’s new, specs and give our first impressions.
We show how much stuff can fit behind the Rogue SV’s raised back seat. Note that this is without the available Divide N Hide cargo system.
The Rogue has unusual faux roof rails that disguise plug-in points for a Nissan crossbar accessory.
Here’s how the new Rogue stacks up versus its main rivals. Check out how the Rogue measures up from a numbers perspective.
What features are available and what’s the Rogue’s price?
Pricing for the 2021 Nissan Rogue starts at $26,745, including the $1,095 destination charge. Adding all-wheel drive to any trim adds $1,400 to the price — it’s not standard on any trim level.
Standard equipment for the S includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, manual cloth seats, two front USB ports, 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a full suite of driver assistance technologies (Nissan Safety Shield 360).
The other trims are SV, SL and Platinum. Each step up comes with some useful features, but the best value is the SV trim ($28,435) with the available $2,660 SV Premium Package. This gets you Nissan’s excellent ProPilot Assist tech, 18-inch wheels. power driver seat, 360-degree camera, in-car WiFi, leatherette seats, power liftgate and panoramic sunroof. The Platinum comes with a ton of luxurious features and appearance items, but it starts at $36,525. A few highlights include quilted leather seats, fully-digital instrument cluster, wireless phone charging, head-up display and the Bose premium audio system.
What are its safety equipment and crash ratings?
The 2021 Rogue’s long list of standard safety equipment includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking (a rare feature), lane departure warning, blind-spot and rear cross traffic warning systems, driver inattention warning, a rear seat occupant reminder and auto high beams. Many of these systems are optional or not available at all on rival crossovers. If you step up above the base trim, you add ProPilot Assist, which is a comprehensive driving assistant for the highway. It includes adaptive cruise control, and a capable lane-centering system that’s more sophisticated than what is offered by rivals. Traffic sign recognition and ProPilot with Navi-Link (uses the navigation system to make ProPilot usable on highway junctions and exits) come as standard on the highest trim.
The redesigned 2021 Nissan Rogue hasn’t been crash tested by a third party.