By on November 17, 2021


Fresh off a substantial redesign for 2021, the Nissan Rogue enters its sophomore year with a new engine option. On tap is a version of the brand’s variable compression technology, applied to a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-banger good for 201 horsepower and 225 lb-ft of torque. And, as is Nissan’s apparent M.O., the CVT ‘box remains.

Those are power increases of 11 percent and 24 percent respectively compared to the standard model from last year. Nissan is also boasting a combined fuel economy rating of 33 mpg, which is a 10 percent jump over the 2021 vehicle. This change appears to make the ’21 Rogue a one-year-only vehicle since it seems this 1.5L VC-Turbo will be the only engine available across all trims.

Your author is far from an engineer, so the description of a Nissan variable compression engine makes his head spin, even more so than it does after his grog ration of Canadian Club. Suffice it to say the mill deploys high/low compression ratio technology to create a pair of different driving profiles: Nissan calls ‘em dynamic performance and eco/efficient. Stroke in the cylinder ranges from 88.9 to 90.1 mm with a compression ratio of anywhere between 8.0:1 and 14.0:1.

This wizardry first appeared on their 2.0L VC-T which found homes in vehicles like the Infiniti QX50 and Nissan Altima. Nissan says the engine utilizes a multi-link system that continuously varies piston top dead center and bottom dead center positions, permitting free control of the compression ratio. That multi-link system is in place of a traditional connecting rod to rotate the crankshaft, while an actuator motor changes the multi-link system endpoint to vary the piston reach to transform the compression ratio.


This is all great on paper but some testers of the 2.0L VC-T engine reported having a tough time eking out the type of fuel economy promised by the manufacturer. This is likely down to a driving style that prioritizes speed over efficiency. Like with Ford’s EcoBoost suite of engines, one can generally have either Eco or Boost – not both.

It’s also worth asking if John Q. Customer will accept the notion of a three-cylinder engine in a crossover of this size, no matter what its stated power output. Nissan better hope it got this assumption correct since the Rogue is literally the company’s bread and butter in this country. Mass rejection of such a small displacement engine could hamper sales and trample all over their balance sheet.

As for the CVT – Xtronic, in Nissan speak – it is said to have been imbued with a 17-percent wider gear ratio coverage and 32 percent lower friction than the previous transmission. All we’ll say is a recent drive in a new Pathfinder was notable for the nine-speed automatic which played nicely with its power team dance partner.

Prices will start at $26,700 for a front-wheel-drive S trim, on up to a $36,480 Platinum front-driver. In between are SV and SL trims for $28,390 and $33,050 respectively. All-wheel drive is a $1,500 option across the board. The 2022 Rogue will be available this winter.

[Images: Nissan]

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31 Comments on “2022 Nissan Rogue Adds Variable Compression Engine, Retains CVT...”

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Turbo charged 3 cylinder in a Nissan just makes it more disposable especially on top of the Jatco CVT.

  • avatar

    hard pass

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Think that Nissan is shooting themselves in the foot with this. The Rogue is a big seller. Asking consumers to purchase a 3 cylinder in a vehicle in this segment/size combined with the CVT is I believe going to seriously negatively impact their sales.

    if they are making changes to the driveline of the Rogue then they should maintain the same engine and offer their new automatic transmission as an option.

    If they wish to experiment with a 3 cylinder why not first offer it as an option on the Kicks?

    • 0 avatar

      The funky nature of the Kicks is definitely a better place for a quirky 3-cyl engine. It wouldn’t even need the turbo as underpowered as the Kicks is now.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Biro

        If a three-pot powerplant will keep me from buying a Bronco Sport, it would certainly rule out the Rogue for me. I don’t need no glorified snowmobile engine.

        Nissan got our hopes up by putting a real automatic in the new Pathfinder. I guess that’s as far as it goes. A pity, really, because Nissan’s latest vehicles look better and their ad campaign seems to be working.

        • 0 avatar
          Ol Shel

          Who cares? What difference does the number of cylinders make if the performance is adequate and the vehicle is an appliance like this one?

          People love to act disgusted, but they weren’t going to buy this, or probably any other new car.

    • 0 avatar

      IDK, I doubt most Rogue buyers care what’s under the hood, as long as it has adequate scoot and decent mpg.

    • 0 avatar

      You think the average buyer of a Rogue knows or even cares what engine it has? They take it for a test drive – it’s nice… And that’s the end of the discussion.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree. Not just for the Rogue, but for most people these days, there is very little thought given to the drivetrain – apart from the growing number of people who think that AWD is utterly essential in all vehicles. I’ve driven several Nissans as rentals as well as other vehicles with a CVT and even though they are getting better I still don’t like them. But… I’d be willing to bet that only a very small percentage of people who own these vehicles knows that they have a CVT and how it differs from an automatic transmission.

      • 0 avatar

        Literally this the fact that the tires are properly balanced and the suspension is not sacked is sufficient to impress the typical new Rogue buyer.

  • avatar

    Wonder if its stablemate twin the Mitsubishi Outlander is going to get this new engine or stick with the old 181 hp/ 181 ft-lb 2.5 liter. Be kind of curious how the two compare- 20 HP and 40+ torque in a vehicle this large won’t go amiss, but only if it’s available in the low to mid powerband. Seems like Nissan missed the boat not offering the 2.0 turbo they offer in the Infiniti’s. Lots of mid-sized crossovers out there with that displacement, bet you 99/100 people wouldn’t bat an eye.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    That variable compression engine is a deal breaker.

  • avatar

    I’m still not sure what I think of a 3 cylinder, let alone one with this new and interesting potential failure point, but I’m curious how well the 3 cylinder Escape sells in comparison to the 4 cylinder. My brother has one and seems to like it.

  • avatar

    Consumers won’t care much about the # of cylinders in this class of vehicle as their top priorities are decent cargo/people room and sitting high in traffic. GM proved that by selling tons of buzzy 3cyl Trailblazers and Encore GXs.

    Read consumer reviews of even “slow” CUVs and note how will speak to how “peppy” they are because they don’t pay much attention to how hard the hamster wheel is spinning. They will say the same about the Rouge as they floor it from stoplights and up freeway ramps.

    • 0 avatar

      Floor it from stoplights? Charge up freeway onramps? Not in my neck of the woods!

      It seems to be a spectator sport to see how far below the posted speed limit just ONE idiot in one of these can force a conga line of other drivers to enter an expressway, oncoming semis be damned! And then those underposted numbers on a sign are the only laws that ever seem to be followed in Northwest Ohio; never mind that these same clueless clods are texting while driving, ignoring the lever on the left side of the steering column that might give other drivers a hint about what they’re about to do, clogging the passing lane so they can be judge, jury AND executioner of that one law, and generally doing everything else BUT paying attention to their driving!

      All that said, the Jatco CVT itself is a deal-breaker, never mind that janky variable-compression in an overstressed hamster wheel!

  • avatar

    “it is said to have been imbued with a 17-percent wider gear ratio”…

    I’m no engineer, but can a transmission without gears have a “gear ratio”?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Engineer here. I guess a better term would be “output ratio”, which is what’s used for actual gear reducers.

      Electrical engineers use the term “gas gauge” for measuring battery charge levels.

      Sometimes the old terms are still useful.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s the ratio between the sizes of the input and output pulleys on the CVT belt.

  • avatar

    Sick of the CVT whining. They’re good transmissions for this sort of application, and they’re not as fragile as they were in the beginning. They allow for smooth driving and, especially from Nissan, better-than-segment-average fuel economy. I really don’t understand why people are so freaked out by static engine speed; if you need a certain amount of power, holding the engine at the speed where it makes exactly that amount of power is the most efficient way to do it.

    If the engine’s too loud when you do that, that’s an engine NVH problem, not a transmission problem.

    • 0 avatar

      Nissan CVT transmissions suck. They suck to drive, they’re unreliable (don’t know how the last 5 years have been but the prior 15 years they’ve been hot trash) and they make Nissan engines sound worse than they probably should.

      Moreover, does it really matter if the engine or trans is at fault? Nissan has only recently begun to move away from CVT in some of their products, but they’re still selling it in the Rogue.

      The damage to the brand has been GM-like in it’s scope and duration.

    • 0 avatar

      “that’s an engine NVH problem”

      Then everyone offering a CVT has an engine NVH problem.

      This is tortutrous.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      Because interwebz umbrage bruhs.

  • avatar

    “On tap is a version of the brand’s variable compression technology, applied to a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-banger good for 201 horsepower and 225 lb-ft of torque. And, as is Nissan’s apparent M.O., the CVT ‘box remains.”

    Are they serious? Nissan couldn’t deliver a competent product with a decent motor at the helm, but now its let’s double down on failure and drop in whiz bang technology which I doubt works for any length of time *and* keep the awful CVT we’re so famous for?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Contrary to most Nissan memes on here; a friend of mine has a master’s degree and a sterling FICO score. I asked her, why on earth a Nissa? She replied: “cheapest 4wd I could live with and buy, I can do a Costco run with it, and to be honest, I don’t care if it gets dinged and scuffed up in the parking lots.” I think she fits Nissan’s sales goals.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Most buyers of Nissans might not know what a CVT is or what a turbo 3 is until their transmission and engine goes out and they find out how much it costs to replace them and what their highly depreciated vehicle is worth. Nissan manages to make their vehicles even more disposable. Nissan has fallen from a very good manufacturer to basement level quality.

  • avatar

    Nissan answered the question that tortured engine designers’ minds in the 1980s. Variable compression ratio. And nowadays it simply is not required, in fact it’s the next best thing to being useless.

    Everyone got around the Variable CR idea by first VTEC and then fully variable cam timing on both inlet and exhaust valves. The next thing was really studying the intake tract and creating reliable tumble-air charging of the cylinder over a wide rpm range. After that was the fiddling wih combustion chamber shape, quench, etc. that matched the tumble and so on. Optimization of combustion conditions. Then add turbo.

    What does Nissan do? Varies the CR so that the combustion chamber is NEVER the right shape at any speed or load. As C/D says, when the underwhelming new QX 50 arrived a couple of years ago with its 2.0l turbo Variable CR, it tested over 10% below its EPA highway rating, 27 actual versus 30 claimed. Most new vehicles do better than their EPA highway claim on C/D’s steady 75 mph 200 mile long test. Not the QX50.

    Someone at Nissan needs to bang their head repeatedly on a nearby office table to clear out the cobwebs. See? That’s better now, isn’t it?

  • avatar

    “32 percent lower friction than the previous transmission.”

    32 percent more rubber band feel.

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