By on June 15, 2020

No one would accuse the current-generation Rogue of oozing too much testosterone. Few, if any, in its class do. The compact crossover sold very well, however, making it an absolutely crucial product for a company reeling from two financial body blows.

A bloated business and declining sales mingled with pandemic woes this year, making it all the more important for Nissan to streamline its operations while releasing new and improved product. And the 2021 Rogue is indeed improved.

Riding atop a new platform, the next-generation Rogue doesn’t change much in terms of footprint. It’s actually 1.5 inches shorter than the previous model, with a roof that sinks two-tenths of an inch closer to terra firma.

What strikes the viewer most are the subtly upscale slant to the model’s roofline, the more upright front end, a new take on Nissan’s corporate V-Motion grille, and narrow LED headlights that bring to mind the pre-facelift Jeep Cherokee (as well as Hyundai’s contemporary over/under headlight treatment). The rear glass also seems more vertical than before, and a sharp crease over the rear fenders lends some measure of athleticism — or at least authority — to a model whose previous iteration boasted none of the above.

Nissan claims those rear doors open nearly 90 degrees, aiding ingress and egress.

With a direct injected 2.5-liter four-cylinder as the sole engine choice, Rogue drivers gain 11 horsepower  and 6 lb-ft of torque for 2021. Output stands at 181, regardless of whether we’re talking ponies or twist. A continuously variable automatic handles the gear ratios, while both front-and all-wheel drive remains on the table.

A new steering rack is said to lessen the need for minor steering corrections on the highway, while a multi-link suspension sets up shop out back.

Also on the table for ’21 is a new way to spend more money on a Rogue, as lofty trims seem like a good idea when you’re in poor financial shape. Thus, Platinum joins a trim roster that previously consisted only of S, SV, and SL. In that spec, buyers gain standard quilted semi-aniline leather-appointed seating (see above), a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, a 10.8-inch head-up display (a first for Rogue), ambient lighting, and the otherwise optional (on SL only) ProPILOT Assist with Navi-link driver-assist system.

That system is now equipped to handle off-ramps without driver intervention, and the stop-and-go cruise control can now see the vehicle remain motionless for up to 30 seconds.

Elsewhere in the Rogue, the infotainment touchscreen grows to 7 inches (up from 5) in low-end trims, with a 9-inch unit optional. Also optional is a surround-view monitor. Interestingly, rear cross-traffic alert, rear automatic braking, and rear door alert are standard kit on this CUV. Those features are bundled into the vehicle’s standard Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of driver-assist technologies — a package that includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot assist, lane departure warning, and high beam assist.

Like its subcompact sibling, the Kicks, Rogue goes into ’21 offering five two-tone color combinations. No mainstream automaker has adopted the pay-more-for-paint-based-individualism strategy quite like Nissan.

Pricing will have to wait until closer to the new Rogue’s fall on-sale date. As for whether a greater standard level of content, combined with new looks, can push the model’s sales (which fell in 2019 after reaching a very lofty pinnacle in 2018) in an upward direction remains to be seen. Competition has never been as fierce — or as fresh.

[Images: Nissan]

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14 Comments on “Bread and Butter Update: 2021 Nissan Rogue Brings Brawnier Body and a Way to Spend More...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Looks like a smaller Pathfinder, which isn’t a bad thing.

    I’ve seen two-tone Kicks listed for the same price as one-tone Kicks, so I’m not sure the two-tone option really raises the price in the end, despite the $250-595 adder on the MSRP.

    I find that butterscotch leather option in the photo render a bit loud, sort of like my son’s 11 Sonata interior (gold on black), but nobody’s forcing me to buy it.

    This Rogue should do well.

    I’m all for Nissan streamlining their lineup, but the 2.5 engine has been around since dinosaurs ruled the earth. Time for some variety.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You’re really showing your age if you think that tan interior is loud. Did you know you could buy cars in the 1960s with plaid interiors? There were three-color combinations that would make you car sick before the car left the driveway. Today, any color at all is a welcome respite from black and fifty shades of gray.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        You could buy plaid interiors in the 60s/70s, but why would you want to?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I’m 56, and prefer light tan/beige/white, or black interiors. Chocolate is nice, too, IMO.

        We had an 82 Ford LTD full size with a red velour interior once. My son with the gold interior Sonata loved it. Our 80 Bobcat had a blue vinyl interior that magnified cold/hot temperatures. I find the red interior you can get on an Alfa Romeo these days to be an interesting throwback, but it’s way over the top for me.

        Beauty/beholder, etc.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Our 2018 SL Premium is a great road car, often returning 30 mpg @ 75 mph. The only improvements I would want to see is heads-up display (apparently coming for the new model), ventilated seats, and a seat bottom angle adjustment. Otherwise ours is a great riding, very roomy vehicle.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Did they steal old Rav4 blueprints?

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    “while a multi-link suspension sets up shop out back.” I thought they’d gone to a twist beam… OOPS, I must be thinking of that up-market, entry level luxury offering from Mazda.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    A definite visual improvement, inside and out.

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