- Honda-like practicality
- Roomy back seat
- Improved interior quality
- Platinum ride quality
- Loud engine
- Good but not great dynamics
Nissan’s best-selling vehicle could soon be notable for more than just the amount of cash on the hood. After seven long model years, the redesigned 2021 Nissan Rogue re-enters the compact SUV scene more relevant than it’s been in a long time. Nissan, we missed you.
The box-checking Rogue hits at the heart of the segment with smart, practical touches. A large back seat and wide-opening rear doors are just the start. The Nissan manages to offer a spacious cargo area while shrinking in length by 1.5 inches, making it that much easier to park. A new cargo spot below the center console could be useful, and like the class leaders, its rear seats fold down by pulling levers in the cargo area.
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Nissan has clearly upped its game with interior quality, too, at least on our top-of-the-line Platinum tester.
“This interior is a big step forward for the segment,” features editor Scott Evans said. “You don’t get something this nice in a Honda CR-V. The design, the materials, and the tech are all standouts.”
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So the 2021 Rogue makes a great first impression. Press that start button to start up the 181-hp 2.5-liter naturally aspirated I-4, however, and the picture changes.
“The biggest problem will probably be that it continues to drive like the old one,” features editor Christian Seabaugh said. “The engine doesn’t so much deliver power as it slowly spills it out.”
Although we appreciate the updated CVT’s tuning for its intended mainstream audience, many judges found the engine a bit thrashy. And as much as we like a set of 19-inch wheels, we suspect their slightly firm ride will improve on lower trims with 17s or 18s.
Nissan wants the 2021 Rogue to lead on tech and safety. On the former’s front, the Rogue offers a digital instrument cluster, head-up display, 9.0-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a 360-degree camera system with its own ultra-convenient button right below the screen.
Then there’s ProPilot Assist, a bundle of active safety tech intended to keep you out of trouble and, in general, make driving more convenient. With blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, front and rear automatic emergency braking, and a more advanced adaptive cruise control system, it advances Nissan’s goal of spreading this tech across its lineup.
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A few judges found that this version of ProPilot Assist could use a bit more tweaking (in the way the adaptive cruise and lane assistance features work—or don’t). The same could be said about the Nissan’s new flat shifter—our tester sometimes made a plasticky creaking noise when we nudged the fancy shifter forward or backward.
When it comes to efficiency, the Rogue’s expected 1-2-mpg improvement from the previous model should allow it to tie the segment’s gas-sipping leaders. The Rogue’s estimated fuel economy moves in the right direction but fails to break new ground.
Without the panoramic glass roof, digital instrument cluster, and quilted leather seats, would the Rogue still catch our attention?
Absolutely: “There’s a vast competence in this Rogue,” editor-in-chief Mark Rechtin said.
Even so, the Nissan will face off against a ton of compact two-row SUVs, and a few are quite good. Although it’s not clear whether the much-improved Rogue is best-in-class, this might just be the best new Nissan available.
“I’m still surprised this is a Nissan Rogue,” Seabaugh, who spent time in our one-year 2014 Rogue tester years ago, said. “I cannot overstate what a massive improvement this is.”
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