Behind the Wheel
2021 Nissan Rogue Review: Family-friendly functionality gets a dose of comfort, tech
It's easy to glance across the compact SUV landscape and characterize them all as being perfect for soccer moms. In the field, however, there are few that actually blend together. All have highs and lows as part of the design process that is their company's plan to stand out.
The 2021 Nissan Rogue is no exception to that rule. It was fully redesigned for the 2021 model year, bringing updated looks, an upgraded interior, and more powerful engine to the table. That's not all. The Rogue has stepped out of the bubble-body bubble. Though it still has typical SUV proportions, its nose is beefier and more muted while its backside stands taller and flatter.
Nissan offers the Rogue with a two-tone paint scheme.Photo courtesy of Nissan Motor America
Under the hood is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is paired with a continuously variable transmission and neither the most fuel efficient nor the most energetic power plant available in a compact SUV. What it is, is capable. There are few times in the Rogue's lifespan where the average buyer is likely to take advantage of the full 181 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque and think, "You know, I wish this thing was quicker."
Drivers have their choice of Off-Road, Standard, Eco, and Sport drive modes when behind the wheel of an all-wheel drive variant of the SUV. Sport genuinely kicks the experience up a notch and gives the crossover a little more asphalt-eating enthusiasm.
Like the previous-generation Rogue, this one goes right where you want it. The steering is properly weighted and effortless. Parking in a typical store lot is a breeze, as is maneuvering it around traffic.
There's a new-to-Nissan shifter in the Rogue that takes up far less room than the previous generation's did and offers quick and easy maneuverability with accuracy, which is about all you can hope for from a modern shifter yet so many automakers get it so wrong (hello, rotary dial).
The shifter in the Rogue is new for 2021.Photo courtesy of Nissan Motor America
A crossover is more about functionality than looks and the Rogue has that covered. From the standard multi-level LED headlights to the wide opening doors (easy in-out for little ones, car seats, and groceries), a split one-touch fold-down rear seat with remote capability, easy-to-wash cargo liner, and Divide-n-Hide divided rear cargo storage system.
It's also about keeping people safe. The Rogue works to do that with its standard Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of safety technology that includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and rear automatic braking.
The company's ProPilot Assist driver assist technology is available and performs just as well as it did on the previous generation Rogue. Though its functionality has become more commonplace on vehicles in years since its debut, the system remains one of the better ones on the market and it truly makes driving long distances a heck of a lot easier on the brain.
Nissan has improved the car's digital footprint with a large infotainment screen, all-digital driver information display, and a head-up display.Photo courtesy of Nissan Motor America
For 2021, the system is available with Navi-Link, a navigation-based component that uses real-time data to help predict traffic ahead and route accordingly. Additionally, the system makes adjustments to allow the driver to remain at ease in changing situations including Speed Limit Assist, and extended auto restart timing.
That technology pairs with the creature comforts that abound in the Rogue. Its seats are of the famously comfortable NASA-inspired Zero Gravity variety. Rear seat passengers can enjoy a recline function as well as available tri-zone climate control. Pull-up sunshades are also available for the second-row windows.
Its cabin is far more premium than what you'll find in the Toyota RAV4 or Ford Escape at an trim level, and is most comparable to the Mazda CX-5. Though clearly built to withstand the daily rigors of family life, the Rogue's cabin isn't overpowered by materials built for hardiness rather than aesthetics.
The SUV's new all-digital 12.3-inch driver information screen is easy to read and appealing. The same goes for the full-color 10.8-inch head-up display and 9-inch infotainment touch screen. Nissan has brought back its helpful surround view monitor for this generation.
Nissan has reconfigured the SUV's cargo area for 2021.Photo courtesy of Nissan Motor America
Other technology amenities include wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless phone charging, USB-A and USB-C charging ports, Google Maps, and Waze.
The 2021 Nissan Rogue doesn't reinvent the wheel. It keeps doing what the Rogue has always done – offer family-friendly functionality that is hard to beat in its class. For that reason, it deserves to be on your test drive list.