Demand for compact crossovers continues to climb, which explains why crossovers for mainstream brands continue to eclipse sedans. For example, the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4 each outsell the former top sellers, the Accord, Altima and Camry. With that pressure on its shoulders, Nissan has introduced the redesigned 2021 Rogue.
Since Nissan didn’t want to screw up its top seller, it’s no surprise that the third generation Rogue isn’t dramatically different than the second generation, unlike the difference between the first and second generations. The 2021 Rogue’s overall shape is similar, but it now has a bolder, more chiseled look than before.
At the front is where you’ll notice the biggest change where the Rogue’s face now stands out more than before. Overall its boxier styling gives it a more truck-like appearance, which separates it from the more car-like Rogue Sport.
Inside the Rogue’s interior is about the same size as its predecessor. The driver and front passenger will notice the front area is a bit more snug than before, with headroom reduced by half an inch and legroom cut by 1.5 inches. But in the rear there’s 0.7 inches more headroom and 0.6 inches more legroom. The Rogue offers up to 36.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row seats, which expands to 74.1 cubic feet with the seats folded. That means that the Rogue offers more total cargo space than the RAV4 (69.8), but it’s not as big as the Honda CR-V (75.8).
The interior does feel more modern and luxurious than before. The Rogue features the Zero Gravity seats and the top level SL trim level is available with quilted, semi-anline leather. The other materials also feel upgraded. No matter which seat you’re in, the Rogue feels comfortable and spacious.
The Rogue comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, while a larger 9-inch screen is optional on the SL trim and standard on the Platinum. The system is easy to use and looks a generation ahead of the systems in the CR-V and RAV4. The Rogue Platinum also comes with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.8-inch head-up display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trim levels, but wireless CarPlay is optional on the SL and standard on the Platinum.
On the safety front, the Rogue comes standard with a long list of driver-assistance technologies, which includes a blind-spot monitor, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic emergency braking. SV trims and higher get the ProPilot Assist system, which combines adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.
ProPilot Assist with Navi-Link is optional on the SL and standard on the Platinum. The system uses the navigation system to automatically adjust the speed, like on highway curves.
Under the hood there’s only one engine to choose from, an updated 2.5-liter four-cylinder. It generates 181 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, which is 11 more hp and 6 lb-ft. than 2020 Rogue. The four-cylinder is mated to a continuously variable transmission. All-wheel drive is optional.
On the road, the Rogue is definitely not sporty, so if that’s what you want, go check out the Mazda CX-5 or Volkswagen Tiguan. The four-cylinder packs enough power to get you around town with ease, but accelerating on a highway or up a steep hill is something the Rogue doesn’t enjoy. The good part is that the CVT is quieter and less annoying than other CVT transmissions that we’ve tested. What the Rogue really needs though is a turbocharged engine, like the 2.0-liter that’s offered in the Altima.
Moving past the lackluster engine, the Rogue does drive better than before with improved steering feel, but it’s still a bit light. The suspension also does a good job of keeping the bumps on the road from disturbing you.
Nissan also doesn’t offer a Rogue Hybrid, like it did before. This means that if you want a hybrid crossover, you’ll want to check out the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
The Rogue is rated at 27 mpg city 35 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, which drops to 26/33/29 with all-wheel drive.
The 2021 Nissan Rogue starts at $26,745, including destination. All-wheel drive adds an additional $1,400.
At the end of the day, the 2021 Rogue is a nice improvement over its predecessor. It now stands out more than before and the tech upgrades are a nice addition. The Rogue doesn’t really change the game compared to its biggest rivals from Honda and Toyota, but that’s ok. The Nissan Rogue is an affordable, comfortable and spacious crossover that’s perfect for the family.