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Autos

2021 Nissan Rogue: Best-selling CUV emerges from make-over better than ever

Car companies and doctors have more in common than you would think.

To wit, Nissan’s Rogue compact crossover is the company’s best-selling car and one of the best-selling vehicles in the U.S.

Nissan is in the midst of redesigning its entire product line, and now it’s Rogue’s turn. There are risks in redesigning a popular car, though. Even a small misstep can mar an otherwise successful launch.

The Hippocratic Oath pertains: First, do no harm.

Comfort, engagement up

Fortunately for Nissan, the 2021 Nissan Rogue emerges from its third-generation makeover without miscues. It’s a much better car than its predecessor. 

Rogue is a five-passenger CUV. It’s available in front- and all-wheel drive configurations.

Nissan plants the new on a strong new platform, with the expected gains in safety, ride quality, handling and refinement. Reductions in noise, vibration and harshness contribute to a more tranquil cabin.

The new platform and revised suspension produce a firm yet forgiving ride. Body motions are well controlled and the suspension effectively dials down the impact of most potholes. 

The ‘21 Rogue is more engaging than before, with quicker and more accurate responses. It’s agile in town and solid and stable at speed.

Materials quality is up across the board. Expanses of soft-touch materials replace last year’s hard plastics. The infotainment touchscreen moves up from its old spot in the center of the dash to the top. 

Shift-by-wire

Infotainment controls are straightforward and easily mastered. The buttons and knobs used to control audio and climate functions are well-organized and clearly labeled.

Nissan abandons the conventional shift lever, replacing it with a stubby electronic shifter that operates with a unique back-and-forth sliding action. 

The electronic shifter is more compact than a conventional shifter. Nissan mounts it on a floating console that bridges a large, open storage bin below. Other casual storage opportunities include a cell-phone bin just ahead of the shifter and a large covered bin in the center console.

The hood and front fenders are stronger and better defined. A new front fascia features a larger and bolder grille set off by Nissan’s new signature LED lighting treatment. Automatic high-beam assist is standard.

Despite sweeping updates, Nissan raises Rogue’s price by just $160. 

An eye on tech

Rogue is available in four trim levels: S ($25,060); SV ($27,340); SL ($32,000); and Platinum ($35,430). 

Nissan’s focus on tech manifests itself  in standard push-button start, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Siri Eyes Free and Google Assistant. There’s hands-free texting, Bluetooth connectivity and satellite radio. 

A new rear-seat alert system reminds parents of objects, pets or young persons they may have left in the rear seats. Another prevents a backseat passenger from opening a door into traffic.

The Platinum trim is new this year. It’s fitted with quilted and stitched semi-aniline leather upholstery, heated rear seats, tri-zone climate control, wireless cellphone charging, a customizable digital instrument panel and a large, multi-color head-up display.

The Platinum adds wireless CarPlay connectivity so you can enjoy your tunes without plugging in.

Sole engine offering

Rogue easily accommodates four adults and the rear seats will fit three kid’s seats across. There’s good rear-seat legroom but taller passengers may find headroom lacking. The cargo area offers flexible storage options.

Nissan outfits Rogue with a full complement of advanced safety and driver-assist features. Its ProPilot Assist and Safety Shield 360 suites are now both standard on the SV trim and higher.

ProPilot Assist bundles adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. Safety Shield adds forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert with automatic braking.

A 181-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine powers all Rogues. It’s mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The duo produces the usual CVT drone during acceleration but the cabin is isolated from engine noise so the effect is minimized.

The Rogue accelerates from 0-60 in an acceptable 8.2 seconds, 1.2 seconds quicker than last year.

Properly equipped, Rogue can tow up to 1,350 pounds.

It’s mission accomplished for Nissan and its new Rogue. A successful third-gen makeover doubtless will keep the little CUV on its upward trajectory.

Questions or comments? Contact Don at don@dadair.com.

2021 Nissan Rogue SV AWD
Vehicle base price: $25,060
Trim level base price: $28,740
As tested: $30,220 (includes destination and handling)
Options: Floor mats and cargo area protector package
Tow rating: 1,350 pounds
EPA rating: 29 combined/26 city/33 highway
Regular gasoline specified



Don Adair
Don Adair is a Spokane-based freelance writer.