Going Mainstream in the 2021 Nissan Rogue

By Author: Harvey Briggs, Date: Sep 30, 2021

2021 Nissan Rogue may be the most inaptly named vehicle on the road today. Nothing about it suggests anything outside the mainstream. It has no dark side nor any counter-culture pretensions. Never once while I was behind the wheel did I feel like flaunting authority. Especially since Rogue has one of the most mild-mannered powertrains in the category, a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine that makes just 181 horsepower and is mated to an uninspiring CVT transmission.

While well designed, Rogue does little to break the convention of the CUV category

No, Rogue is in fact as conventional as a compact utility vehicle gets these days, which may be why it sells so well. Number three in a category with more than 20 nameplates. Rogue only trails RAV4 and CR-V in popularity in this biggest selling sector of the business

Updated in 2020 for the 2021 model year on Nissan’s all-new architecture, Rogue rides more like a car than ever. Independent MacPherson struts up front and multi-link suspension in the rear do the job they’re designed for, providing a smooth ride for the family. Rogue finds a sweet spot between the firm, sporting ride of Tiguan and the soft compliance of Venza. 

In Platinum trim looks and is priced like a premium SUV

My Platinum trimmed Rogue test vehicle rode on 19-inch, all-season tires mounted on shiny two-tone alloy wheels. The rich champagne silver paint and gleaming chrome trim gave it the premium look its $39,685 price tag deserved. Rogue’s revised styling is ruggedly handsome, with sharper creases, and more squared off edges. The front fascia is upright and SUV-like while the high beltline and long roofline hint at the increased space inside from its previous generation. 

Doors that open to 90-degrees making getting in and out of Rogue easy

Getting into the new Rogue is easier for rear seat passengers thanks to doors that open to a full 90-degrees. This makes installing car seats or loading cargo easier. And for tall people like me, ingress and egress is also more comfortable.

Rogue Platinum has all the premium cues: quilted, two-tone leather seats, soft touch surfaces, digital instrument panel and more

Up front, leg, head and shoulder room are more than ample even for my 6’3” frame. And when when you move up to this platinum trim, things get fancy. Highlights include two-tone, heated, quilted semi-aniline leather seats, three zone climate control, heated rear seats, and a premium Bose stereo that offers improved dynamics over the base sound system. The brushed faux aluminum trim and wood inserts are surprisingly well done and the switchgear, while still plastic, feels good to the touch.

The same is true for the electronic shift lever and drive mode dial. They’re right where you expect them to be and move with precision. There’s storage galore between the two seats thanks to a deep bin beneath butterfly doors, an extra compartment below the shifter, and door pockets that’ll hold additional water bottles along with all the candy wrappers, grocery receipts, and other junk that will accumulate over the miles. At its most premium level, Rogue’s interior is right up there with Mazda for the best in the category.

While loaded with standard and optional tech, Rogue combines buttons, switches and knobs with the touchscreen interface for ease of use

The technology is intuitive. Nissan hasn’t fallen prey to the allure of overlarge screens and the dispensation of physical buttons and knobs for the fools gold of touch and voice only. The 9-inch touch screen is plenty big with crisp graphics. Separate audio and HVAC controls make operation easy. While it may make it look conventional and even a little dated, it works. Available technology on the premium trim includes, wireless Apple CarPlay (Android Auto is standard, but only works with a plug), wireless charging, as well as multiple USB type-A and type C charge ports for both front and rear seat passengers.

Cargo space is ample, but not best in class. For that you’ll have to go to CR-V.

Like CR-V and RAV4, Rogue can be had fairly affordably if you opt for a front-wheel drive S model. Rogue’s starting price of $27,000 (includes destination and delivery charge), is slightly higher than its rivals, but you get a fair amount of standard gear including LED head and tail lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, and safety technology that includes cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and auto high beams. You also get one of the roomiest cabins in the segment. Storage behind the second row is adequate, but not best in class. It does, however, have what Nissan calls, its Divide-n-Hide system that can hold small items under a false floor. Or you can remove the cover to create a deeper storage area.

The panoramic moon roof opens wide to bring in lots of light and create an airy feel in the cabin

On the road, Rogue’s new platform provides a much more rigid foundation and you can feel it. The ride is greatly improved, but compared to the CR-V or Mazda CX-5, it feels a little heavy. Steering is predictable and solid with very little feel or feedback reaching the leather-wrapped steering wheel through its electronically assisted system. Mileage is on par with most vehicles in the category as well (do you sense a theme here?) at 25 MPG city and 32 MPG on the highway.

If you’re looking for a compact SUV that’s different, thrilling, and makes you feel like an outsider, then Rogue won’t make you very happy. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a compact SUV that is as good as anything in the category with a few extras, then Rogue may be just what you need.

Rogue looks good, drives well, and offers plenty of features at every trim level. There’s a reason it’s #3 in the category

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum
Four-door, five-passenger compact mainstream SUV

Base Price: $26,050
Price as tested: $39,685
Major options: All-Wheel Drive ($1,400), Platinum Trim ($9,380), Two-Tone Paint ($350), Illuminated Kick Plates ($400), External ground lighting ($350), Interior Accent Lighting ($350), Frameless Rearview Mirror ($310), Destination Charge ($1,095)
Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder with Direct Injection
Transmission: Xtronic CVT with enhanced Intelligent All-Wheel Drive
Power: 181 horsepower
Torque: 181 pound-feet
Curb Weight: 3,633 pounds
0-60 MPH: 8.1 seconds
EPA MPG: 25 city/32 highway/28 combined

In its higher trim levels, Rogue offers LED lighting all around
When this badge is on the outside, there are plenty of upgrades inside
The comfortable seats would look right at home in a car that cost $60,000.
Yes, the trim is plastic, but it’s really well executed plastic.

Harvey Briggs

Harvey Briggs is the Founder, Editor, and Publisher of Rides & Drives. He has also written for Car and Driver, Winding Road, and the luxury lifestyle blog, Pursuitist.com. His passions run from fast cars, small planes, boats and motorcycles to music, travel, and sports. When he's not on the road testing the latest cars, he been known to turn up on stage playing rock and blues guitar at clubs around his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. Follow Harvey's adventures on Instagram and Twitter @harvey_drives and find him on Facebook. Though keeping up could be a problem. As Harvey says, "If I don't slow down, time can't catch me."

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