The Nissan Rogue is a very important vehicle to the brand for one very simple reason. It’s their best seller. Now in its 3rd generation, how has Nissan improved it?
Engine – Unlike its competitors, the 2021 Nissan Rogue is only available with one engine (for now at least). It is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.5L 4-cylinder engine that produces 181 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque (135 kW & 245 Nm). That is a moderate bump in power from the last generation Rogue but it’s still lower than some of the base engines that Mazda, Toyota, & Honda offer in their models. But despite the lower power output, the engine never felt as though it was struggling while driving the Nissan Rogue. The crossover accelerated at a moderate rate of speed from a stop and overtaking another vehicle on a highway didn’t require a long run-up. Sure, the engine’s rpms needed to hit the 3,000 mark when accelerating onto a highway but once the Rogue got up to cruising speeds, the rpms dropped to around the 1,500 mark.
The 2.5L engine also received a bump in fuel efficiency. It is now rated for 7.2 L/100km (32.7 MPG) on a highway and 9.2 L/100km (25.6 MPG) in a city. A 0.3 & 0.4 L/100km improvement over the old Rogue. During my time with the SUV, I averaged 8.6 L/100km (27.4 MPG) so it’s not difficult to reach those targets.
Transmission – Like virtually every other Nissan vehicle on sale now, the Rogue uses a CVT to send power to the ground. It’s not the most exciting transmission but because Nissan has stuck with it, they refined it over the years to make it one of the best CVTs around. During normal commutes, the transmission behaves like a typical CVT, as in, it will hold the engine’s rpms to a set point until the car is up to speed. If you press down harder on the throttle, it will start to simulate virtual gears. You can also take over “shifting” duties with the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. They’re ok in terms of responsiveness but you still feel somewhat disconnected from the action of changing gears. Just leave the transmission in auto and it’ll get the job done.
Braking – Like many other manufacturers, Nissan vehicles are equipped with forward collision alert & automatic emergency braking as standard; regardless of trim level. The 2021 Rogue is no different. The system didn’t feel overly sensitive nor did it give me any false alerts while I test drove the Rogue. The brakes themselves are adequate for the Rogue. There’s quite a bit more pedal travel than I’d like but in everyday situations, there’s more than enough braking force. The only limitation are the winter tires that don’t provide as much grip as all-season tires.
Handling – Speaking of providing grip, The 2021 Nissan Rogue drives much better on twisty roads than the outgoing model. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not a Mazda CX-5. However, this new generation feels more planted and eager to go around a corner. On city streets, the steering is light and effortless making for easy maneuverability. Apart from this top Platinum trim with AWD, all other trim levels have the option for FWD or AWD. If you’re reading this in the United States, the Platinum trim’s AWD system is optional.
Ride Comfort – The 2021 Nissan Rogue is arguably one of the most comfortable rides in this class of vehicles. Bumps and road imperfections are very well ironed out by the suspension. It’s not like “driving on clouds” but it’s darn close.
Further aiding to the comfort in this top Platinum trim are the quilted leather seats. They are extremely comfortable to sit in for long…. really long periods of time without any back pain. Also, the 2021 Nissan Rogue has a three zone climate control system. A rare feature for a compact SUV.
Interior Space – The 2021 Rogue – like many new generation vehicles – offers more interior space than the outgoing model. However, the increase in size is not in all axis. Front and rear passenger legroom is greater as is total cargo volume with the rear seats folded. But headroom and cargo capacity with the rear seats up is a tiny bit less than the 2020 Rogue. While the headroom is a few millimeters less than last year’s model, there’s still ample headroom for tall adults like myself at 6’4”. Getting in and out of the Rogue is a breeze, especially in the back row, thanks to the rear doors that open at an almost 90 degree angle. This also aids in loading and unloading with the seats folded.
Speaking of which, the trunk can accommodate 1,028 L (36.3 cu-ft) behind the rear seats and 2,064 L (72.9 cu-ft) with the seats folded. These are specifications with the panoramic moonroof. Without it, the capacities increase by 5 & 34 Liters respectively.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – A refined interior is also one of the biggest changes to the new Nissan Rogue. The cabin is insulated from most outside noises although it’s the engine that you may hear, depending on how hard you press on the accelerator pedal. From idle to around 2,000 rpms (most everyday situations), the engine noise is subdued. But beyond that mark, the noises coming from the engine bay are glaringly obvious in the cabin.
Beyond the noises of the engine, wind and road noise on highways is not any greater than in a Honda CR-V. There are also no cracks or squeaks from the interior trim pieces when driving over rough city streets.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The 2021 Nissan Rogue starts at $28,498 CAD ($25,650 USD) and for your money you get a full suite of advanced safety & driver aids. These include forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot sensors, & rear cross traffic alert. While a lot of auto manufacturers are adding automatic emergency braking as standard, most of the other advanced safety equipment are optional so the Nissan Rogue has a bit of a leg up on the competition for a base model trim. Here in Canada you also get an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto connectivity, heated seats, heated steering wheel, & dual zone automatic climate control.
Upgrade to this $40,000 CAD ($36,830 USD) Platinum trim and the 2021 Rogue becomes a compact SUV with every feature that you & your family will ever need. You’ll get a panoramic sunroof, head-up display, surround view cameras, navigation, full digital instrument cluster, wireless Apple CarPlay, a 9-inch infotainment touchscreen, & some of the softest and most comfortable leather seats in the business.
One gadget that Nissan does very well is adaptive cruise & lane keep. The ProPilot assist feature uses the adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist system to aid the driver during long, boring highway drives. It’s not an autonomous driving system but you can momentarily take your hands off the steering wheel before the car yells at you to hold the wheel again. Overall, this is a fantastic system that does a fabulous job of keeping the Rogue in the center of the lane without “ping pong-ing” you from edge to edge.
Interior Design – When you step inside the new Rogue, it still feels like a Nissan vehicle but it also feels modernized. The steering wheel is a traditional D-shape that Nissan always like to use but it’s just a tad on the skinny side for my extra long fingers to grab a hold of. The infotainment touchscreen has physical quick access buttons & knobs on the bottom and the climate controls are pretty much dummy proof.
One interior design that I particularly like is the choice of trim on the floating center console. It’s plastic but it looks like a blend of wood & aluminum trim. It feels like it’ll stand the test of time and won’t show dirt & fingerprints like traditional piano black plastics.
Finally, there is the new gear selector. It looks funky & different but once you manipulate it, you immediately notice that it is a cheap feeling part. Thankfully it’s the only let down of the interior but it is something that you have to touch every time you drive the Rogue. As well the drive mode selector also feels very cheap compared to the rest of the interior.
Exterior Design – The outside of the 2021 Nissan Rogue seems to take a bit of inspiration from the old Nissan Juke. It has thin daytime running lights at the top of the bumper and actual headlights further down. It looks a bit odd to me but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For example, I actually like the look of the new BMW 4-series. But back to the Nissan, the design language is instantly recognizable as a Nissan product. It has the deep “V” grille on the front and wrap around taillights that are reminiscent of the Murano.
In all the 2021 Nissan Rogue is a good overall compact SUV. It’s not as good to drive as the Mazda CX-5 nor is it as big as the Honda CR-V, but the Rogue is less expensive than both and features a lot of the same gadgets & gizmos. So in a way, you’re getting more value for your money with the Nissan Rogue than other competitor compact SUVs.
Thank you to Nissan Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Nissan.ca