A TECH-HEAVY RIDE
This popular crossover doesn't go rogue in latest update with a variety of improvements
David Booth: This road test actually started out as one that would pit the new Rogue against its larger Murano sibling, but it quickly became obvious that despite being smaller, cheaper and less powerful, the Rogue would so dominate the aging Murano that it would be the crossover equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. Nadine Filion: The Rogue won hands down, especially over its past generation, because of more and better technology. There's a more comfy cabin, more sound attenuation, a more refined powertrain and better road manners.
Nissan took an already techno-wise and spacious vehicle and added nice touches for 2021, such as a heated bench for the rear passengers and a head-up display for the driver. It now has storage compartments and I particularly loved its floating console.
The only bad thing is that you really need to overlook the new exterior. It's getting its sharp and square cues from, maybe, a Frigidaire. There's nothing sexy here. Even the Toyota RAV4 looks better.
DB: I like the new exterior. More important to me, because I spend a lot more time driving a car than looking at it, is that the interior is so much more pleasing. The materials are superior than the outgoing Rogue, and the build quality more refined. And much more luxurious than the old Rogue and more than the Murano.
The Rogue's powertrain is available in both front- and allwheel-drive variants and powered by the revised version of the previous-generation's 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine. Nissan says that, as a result of a new exhaust manifold and variable intake valves, it's up 11 horsepower and six poundfeet of torque. There's less noise, vibration and harshness. The CVT transmission has been recalibrated for less-annoying shifts and better manipulation of engine rpm. It doesn't boast a turbo because it doesn't need a turbo. NF: It's one of the most disciplined continuously-variable transmissions I've ever tested, so much that I thought Nissan had actually gone back to a traditional automatic. Pairing it with a revised CMF-C/D platform Nissan claims is more rigid, makes for more assured, if not outright sporty, road manners.
Another notable improvement is Nissan's “Intelligent” all-wheel drive. While past Rogues offered a lock mode, Nissan says the new enhanced system can now control torque more accurately, and predict front-wheel slippage more quickly, and it is paired with a drive selector that offers five modes: sport, snow, standard, eco, and off-road.
DB: The new Rogue's all-wheeldrive system is more than up to its intended tasks. Like its predecessor, it's more than functionally adequate, as robust as sport-cutes get on this side of a Land Rover, and able to tackle all the terrains and conditions its clientele is likely to throw at it.
The 2021 version is much improved in how it makes you feel. It's more luxurious, more comfortable and more pleasing to the eye. My one complaint is that, at least in the fully loaded Platinum version we tested, its price tag comes perilously close to $40,000. That's not cute at all. NF: I agree with your penny-pinching assessment, because the top-of-the-line Platinum we tested didn't even have ventilated seats. Yes, it did have a fantastic 12.3-inch digital-dashboard gauge cluster, pleasing to the eye and with numerous and practical customizations. But for close to 40 grand, I would have expected something special, such as electrification, where Nissan does have some expertise.
Even in its base S version ($28,498 for FWD, $30,798 for AWD), the 2021 Nissan Rogue is a well-equipped vehicle. I don't like when a manufacturer limits its advanced driver-assistance systems to top-of-the-line versions, so we congratulate Nissan on joining Toyota and Honda in making its Safety Shield 360 standard on all Rogues. That includes blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
But even if the base version is fairly well equipped, I would move one step up to the SV, starting at $31,998, because it brings the panoramic roof, intelligent adaptive cruise control, and Around View Monitor.