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2021 Nissan Rogue Looks to Rival Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4

Nissan’s compact SUV seeks to regain lost ground against rivals.

Todd LassaWriterManufacturerPhotographer

Nissan's Rogue was atop the compact-SUV hill just a few years ago. Buoyed by its smaller sibling, the Rogue Sport, which was counted in the same sales line, the Nissan outsold both the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V in 2017. Having slipped several spots in its segment—which has replaced the midsize sedan as the most important in the U.S. after pickup trucks—Nissan now aims for a revival with an all-new design. The 2021 Nissan Rogue is topped by a new Platinum trim level featuring quilted and heated (front and rear) semi-aniline leather seats, Bose sound system, and ambient lighting.

The 2021 Nissan Rogue, which is scheduled to hit U.S. showrooms this fall, is immediately a big step up visually from the outgoing model, with a big, chunky double "V-Motion" grille, flanked by LED headlights (the lower lamps) and thin LED daytime running lights with integrated turn signals. It also features square-shoulder side surfacing topped by a "floating" D-pillar and optional two-tone paint job for the Platinum and SL trim levels. These two-tone paint schemes suddenly became de rigueur a few years ago mostly on smaller European SUVs, and they're finally catching on here, adding much-needed visual stimuli to the boxy compact-SUV segment.

2021 Nissan Rogue: Slightly Smaller Body, More Cargo Space

Speaking of Europe, the 2021 Nissan Rogue is based on architecture shared with the company's alliance partners. Visually, the 2021 Rogue looks bigger than its predecessor, though it's actually 1.5-inches shorter overall, and 0.2-inch lower than the model it replaces. Because the body is boxier and more filled out, the new model is more capacious, with cargo space behind the second row increasing by 3.2 cubic-feet to 36.5 cubic feet, and cargo space behind the first row up 4.0, to 74 cubic feet. Nissan added lightweight materials and more high-strength steel to lower the Rogue's body-in-white mass by roughly 44 pounds. The new architecture features a stiffer rear structure, and the suspension comes with new double-piston shock absorbers.

2021 Nissan Rogue: Vehicle Motion Control

All-wheel-drive-equipped 2021 Nissan Rogues get a new system called Vehicle Motion Control, which monitors steering, throttle, and braking to assist braking in corners, actively curb understeer, and enhance yaw linearity. All-wheel-drive models also get five drive modes: Off-Road, Snow, Standard, Eco, and Sport, while front-wheel-drive models get Sport, Standard, and Eco. The 2.5-liter inline-four has 11 more horses and 6 more pound-feet of torque, for 181 hp and 181 lb-ft. It's coupled to a CVT automatic transmission.

The latest version of Nissan's Pro Pilot Assist driver-assistance systems is now standard on S, SV, SL, and Platinum trims, and now uses map data to lower or raise speeds automatically as needed around freeway curves, junctions, and exits. The adaptive cruise control again can bring the SUV to a complete stop, but the driver now has 30 seconds, instead of three, to move forward again before the cruise control deactivates automatically.

2021 Nissan Rogue: Family Hub

Nissan calls the Rogue's interior a "family hub," with redesigned "Divide-n-Hide" compartments for each seating position. A new electronically controlled gearshift lever makes the "butterfly" front center console to have an easy pass-through. The remote starter on the key fob can be used to heat or cool the car before everyone piles in, and a new tri-zone climate control gives backseat passengers the ability to control their environments. The key fob also has unlock buttons for all four doors, and a motion-activated tailgate is now available.

As for entertainment aboard the 2021 Nissan Rogue, the SUV has a new 12.3-inch customizable digital dashboard (7 inches on lower trims, though still digital) and a 10.8-inch head-up display, plus an optional 9-inch "floating" center touchscreen. Connectivity includes Waze and Google Maps, with wireless Apple CarPlay planned for availability sometime after the initial vehicle launch. All the usual safety gadgetry is either standard or available, depending on the trim, and a 360-degree camera is available from the SV grade on up.

 

Asked whether Nissan would join the movement toward electrified hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains being adopted by the segment's two leaders, the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, product chief Jared Haslam said there's potential for a hybrid Nissan Rogue in the future.

As planned for its autumn launch, the 2021 Nissan Rogue certainly looks like a much more compelling compact SUV than the previous model, with the sort of thoughtful surprises and delights that will attract the young families that make this segment so popular. It's an important new model that ought to help Nissan regain some of the vast sales ground it has lost in the last few years.

2021 Nissan Rogue Highlights:

  • Improved looks
  • More cargo volume
  • Four-cylinder engine produces 181 hp, 181 lb-ft of torque
  • Pro Pilot Assist now available on a wide range of trim levels
  • Improved adaptive cruise control
  • Clever interior and family features