Bread and Butter Update: 2021 Nissan Rogue Brings Brawnier Body and a Way to Spend More

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Bullnuke Bullnuke on Jun 15, 2020

    "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.

  • Chiefmonkey Chiefmonkey on Jun 15, 2020

    A definite visual improvement, inside and out.

    • See 2 previous
    • Chiefmonkey Chiefmonkey on Jun 16, 2020

      @slavuta Style is a matter of opinion. These are crossovers and not Italian roadsters so I wouldn't call my standards for what moves the needle very high. This is less bland than the previous Rogue. I don't see any Ford at all. Where did you get that from? Toyota and Hyundai, maybe.

  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.
  • The Oracle These are all over the roads in droves here in WNC. Rarely see one on the side of the road, they are wildly popular, capable, and reliable. There is a market for utilitarian vehicles.
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