2021 Nissan Rogue Review: A Fresh Take on a Popular People Mover

by Paul Strauss
2021 Nissan Rogue Review: A Fresh Take on a Popular People Moverzoom in

    2021 Nissan Rogue SV AWD

  • Engine: 2.5L 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower: 181
  • Torque (lb-ft.): 181
  • Transmission: CVT w/manual mode
  • Drive Configuration: AWD
  • City/Hwy/Combined MPG: 25/23/28
  • Curb Weight (lb): 3,532
  • Wheelbase (in): 106.5
  • Total Length (in): 183.0
  • Width (in): 72.4
  • Base Price (USD): $28,740
  • Price as Tested (USD): $30,220

The Rogue has been Nissan’s top-selling vehicle for a while now and is one of the most popular cars in the country. The ubiquitous mid-size SUV has seen a dramatic makeover for the 2021 model year, giving the daily driver a bold new look both outside and in, along with upgrades to its handling and technology. These changes should broaden the appeal of the Rogue, while still keeping its faithful buyers happy.

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The 2021 Rogue looks dramatically different from its predecessor, most notably its front end, which features a wider and taller version of Nissan’s “V” grille that wraps upward towards the hood, flanked by sharply sculpted LED headlamps. In profile, the new Rogue has a more dynamic look, with a more sloped appearance to its roofline and an upward sweep to its black body cladding.

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Around back, new sculpting across its midline helps to distinguish the look of the Rogue’s liftgate, as well as a more pronounced “R O G U E” logo centered beneath the Nissan badge. The overall look is more modern and confident than the outgoing design.

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Under the hood, the 2021 Rogue has an updated version of the 2.5-liter, naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder engine that now makes 181 horsepower, a modest bump from the prior model’s 170 horsepower. Working in concert with a continuously-variable transmission, power delivery is smooth and sufficient. While I’d love to see a more powerful turbocharged option at some point, the current engine is just fine for everyday driving, and the CVT is well executed for smooth and quiet acceleration. As has been advertised heavily, the new Rogue also gets five drive modes: auto, off-road, snow, eco, and sport. Each one makes modest adjustments to power distribution, torque mapping, and steering weight, but none of them felt particularly dramatic to me.

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The Rogue’s new platform results in an exceptionally quiet and vibration-free ride. While its handling isn’t exactly sporty, it instills confidence by limiting body roll and unexpected movements when cornering or taking bumps. The suspension is tuned for everyday comfort, and I found the ride to be pleasing on a variety of road surfaces, from clean new pavement to bumpy old brick roads. Nissan really stepped up their game in terms of ride quietness, and the interior of the Rogue is a very comfortable place to spend time behind the wheel.

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The Rogue’s interior has been nicely redesigned, most notably in the more streamlined look of its new dash and a higher position for its infotainment screen that keeps your eyes up and on the road. The center console has an electronic gear shifter that allows for storage space below and the cupholders to move forward, and space for the drive mode switch. The new butterfly-style center storage bin means both front and rear-seat passengers can reach its contents as well.

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My mid-grade SV trim Rogue was tastefully appointed with a modern multi-fabric seat and door trim, but the new top-of-the-line Platinum trim gets some really upscale quilted leather seats that bring the luxury level way up. As is the case with other Nissan’s, the seats are quite comfortable and supportive, and rear-seat passengers get the same seating quality as front-seat passengers. Heated seats are available as an option for both the front and rear seats as well, though my review car wasn’t equipped with these.

Rear seat legroom is great as well, allowing plenty of space for those of us with long legs. Despite being 1.5″ shorter than the last Rogue, there’s still plentiful cargo space as well. With the rear seats in use, you’ll find 36.5 cubic feet of space, and with them folded, you’ll get up to 74.1 cubic feet. These figures decrease slightly if you opt for the moonroof. The rear seats fold in a 60/40 split and lay completely flat. That big open floor space was enough for me to haul a 70″ television back there without a problem.

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Beyond its aesthetic and ride quality upgrades, the 2021 Rogue is packed with modern technology.  Of note is the latest version of Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist, which provides both adaptive cruise and lane-keeping capabilities on the highway. The enhanced version of the system integrates with navigational data to automatically adjust speed when cornering or reaching off-ramps and can also be set to automatically set its speed based on the posted speed limit signs. Overall, I found the system worked well, and its steering assistance was less intrusive than other systems I’ve used. The safety system also comes with blind-spot warning and intervention, which uses braking to gently nudge you back into your lane if you try changing lanes and somebody is in your blind spot. Surround-view cameras make entering and exiting parking spaces a breeze, and the new high-resolution display is crystal clear.

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Overall, the Nissan Rogue is a great family car, offering a solid mix of comfort, safety tech, and utility. For 2021, it looks better than ever, with bolder and more modern styling, as well as improvements in materials and storage space. Nissan has taken its most popular car here in the States and given buyers a plethora of reasons to upgrade from prior model years.

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